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The White House Responds to Taylor Swift’s Criticism at the VMAs

Taylor Swift’s VMA call out of the Trump administration has earned her a response from the White House.
Taylor Swift’s VMA call out of the Trump administration has earned her a response from the White House. Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

Taylor Swift used her acceptance speech for Video of the Year at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards to call out the Trump administration’s inaction on a petition in support of the Equality Act attached to her video “You Need to Calm Down.” The petition had already accrued a half-million signatures by Monday night, well past the threshold to require a White House response, as Swift pointed out.

Well, the White House has now responded—with almost the exact same statement it used to voice its opposition to the bill when it passed back in May 2019. When asked by CNN about Swift’s comments at the VMAs, White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said, once again, that “the Trump administration absolutely opposes discrimination of any kind and supports the equal treatment of all; however, the House-passed bill in its current form is filled with poison pills that threaten to undermine parental and conscience rights.” The statement echoes language that Swift herself had already criticized in an open letter.

The “poison pills” excuse was later echoed on Fox News by none other than Kellyanne Conway who, despite singing (!) a few lines of Swift’s “You Need to Calm Down” on the air, said that she doubted how much fans of the singer really knew about the Equality Act “is and isn’t” because according to Conway, it’s less an anti-discrimination bill and more a “poison pill” container.

Conway admits that, while she actually likes “You Need to Calm Down”—she particularly loves the lines, “If you say it on the street that’s a knockout/ if you put it in a tweet that’s a copout” because “that’s basically Washington in a nutshell”—she doubts Swift’s commitment to politics as a celebrity and notes that previous attempts by Swift to go “head to head” with President Donald Trump have yielded less than successful results. Conway references Swift’s endorsement of Democrat Phil Bredesen over the Trump-endorsed Republican Marsha Blackburn in the 2018 Tennessee Senate race, noting that Swift “lost handily” in that race.

In any case, Swift’s political involvement is only getting started. In a recent interview with the Guardian the singer characterized the Trump administration as an “autocracy” and pledged to do “everything I can for 2020.” Exactly how Taylor Swift’s political awakening will manifest for 2020 is unclear, but no doubt it’s already providing her with a lot of lyrical fodder. Don’t be surprised if an extended version of Lover appears full of new songs about “poison pills.”