Fox News personality Jesse Watters raised eyebrows when he entertained a conspiracy theory suggesting pop sensation Taylor Swift could be a covert government operative.
During his show Jesse Watters Primetime, Watters presented a clip falsely attributed to a Pentagon official, claiming that Swift was considered by the Pentagon's psychological operations unit as an asset to combat online misinformation.
Watters questioned Swift's meteoric rise to fame, suggesting a possible government connection:
"I like her music. She’s all right. But, I mean, have you ever wondered why or how she blew up like this?"
He then played a clip from a 2019 cyber conference featuring Alicia Bargar, a research engineer at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, who used Swift as an example of a public figure combating misinformation through a "peaceful information operation."
But Bargar is not a Pentagon operative, not that this stopped Watters.
“Well, around four years ago, the Pentagon psychological operations unit floated turning Taylor Swift into an asset during a NATO meeting. What kind of asset? A PSYOP for combating online misinformation." ...
“Yeah, that’s real: the Pentagon PSYOP unit pitched NATO on turning Taylor Swift into an asset for combating misinformation online.”
You can hear what he said in the video below.
Despite the false attribution, Watters continued to mull over the theory, and later during the same segment he only somewhat walked back his assertion about Swift, acknowledging the lack of evidence to support the theory:
“So is Swift a front for a covert political agenda? 'Primetime’ obviously has no evidence. If we did, we’d share it.”
“But we’re curious because the pop star who endorsed [now-President Joe] Biden is urging millions of her followers to vote."
Andrea Hailey, the CEO of Vote.org, quickly dismissed Watters' conspiracy theory, noting that Swift's partnership with the organization "is helping all Americans make their voices heard at the ballot box." She added that Swift is aiding "the biggest nonpartisan platform in America helping young people register [and] cast their vote."
Watters was highly criticized for his absurd declaration.
The Pentagon later was forced to address Watters' conspiracy theory—and with a Swiftian sense of humor at that.
Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh responded to Watters' claim, invoking one of Swift's popular hits by stating in a release, "as for this conspiracy theory, we are going to shake it off."
Singh took the opportunity to emphasize the importance of Congress approving the supplemental budget request "Swift-ly," cleverly integrating another Swift song into her statement, saying, "'I Wish You Would' grant the administration" its request.