How We Got From Apolitical Taylor Swift to Blue Dog Tay: Swift's public evolution on speaking out

Monday, October 8, 2018
President Trump gives a thumbs up while walking to Marine One on the South Lawn Saturday. Credit: Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Hope Hicks Says Buh-Bye DC, Hello Los Angeles: Hicks found a new gig, working for FOX

Barbara Bush Ties the Knot in Maine: The former first daughter got married in Kennebunkport

How We Got From Apolitical Taylor Swift to Blue Dog Tay: Swift's public evolution on speaking out

Kate Bennett

What the White House is Talking About:
President Trump today will give remarks at the International Association of Chiefs of Police's annual convention in Orlando, Florida. Later, back at the White House, he hosts a celebration for the swearing-in of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. 

What the White House Press Corps is Talking About:
The victory lap Trump will be taking today and tonight, and then repeat. 

The Supreme Court and Brett Kavanaugh:
This is a good breakdown of how the dynamics of the Supreme Court might work now that Kavanaugh has been confirmed as an Associate Justice. Most importantly, the addition of Kavanaugh means Chief Justice John Roberts is at a crossroads. "If this court is going to break out of its predictable political mold on major legal controversies in America, it will be up to the inscrutable 63-year-old chief justice, whose ideology now lands him at the center of the bench, between the four liberals and the four most dependable conservatives."

Our Daily Melania:
Guys, to be honest, I'm not really ready to talk about the Africa trip yet in full because a) I'm not sure what time or day it is and I've slept about 4 hours in the past two days, and b) it was such a remarkable trip that I'm not sure I can put it all into words. That said ... I wrote a long thing about Melania's trip and my impressions of it. I hope you can make time to give it a read. And please take a look at some of the visuals shot by the insanely talented news photographers that came with us in the press pool. Here's one of my favorites from our last day in Egypt taken by the legendary Doug Mills of the New York Times. 
Credit: @nytmills/Instagram

Hope Hicks Says Buh-Bye DC, Hello Los Angeles:
Hope Hicks has found a new gig after the White House: EVP and chief communications officer at FOX. Brian Stelter has the details

Barbara Bush Ties the Knot in Maine:
Barbara Bush stealthily got married in Kennebunkport this weekend -- she married Craig Coyne, who was super-casual in an open-neck shirt and no tie. Barbara wore a custom Vera Wang gown that reminded me a lot of the slip-dress style worn years ago by Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy. She also wore a bracelet that her grandfather George H.W. Bush gave her grandmother, Barbara Bush, as her something borrowed, and earrings from twin sister Jenna Bush as her something blue. Also, fun fact, the wedding photographer was Paul Morse, who for years took images of the Bush daughter when he served as the official White House photographer for President George W. Bush. 
Credit: @paulmorsephoto/Instagram

First off, let me say that after a 15 hour flight without wifi access, there are few things scarier than landing at 2:00AM and having your phone go batshit with alerts and texts from friends saying, "OMG, you were just parodied on Saturday Night Live!!" WITH NO FURTHER INFORMATION. So, for a very long few minutes, I was at a level 10 panic attack knowing that I had been on SNL, but not knowing in what context. In the end, it was sort of strange because I was CNN reporter me, but as a Capitol Hill reporter covering the Kavanaugh hearings ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Pretty sure they used my CNN headshot as a guide for the wig and my look (which was like 4 Kate hairstyles ago but whatevs.) See the comparison: 
Credit: SNL screenshot/CNN 

Dress Like the First Lady: 
You can't buy Chanel online -- or at least not a lot of its ready-to-wear -- but Melania was wearing a Chanel hat and Chanel sleeveless blouse and necktie in this outfit -- with Valentino trousers, available here for $2,300, and iconic Chanel "Ballerinas" in beige and black, available here for $750
Credit: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images 

Hunter Schwarz

What Washington is Talking About:
The Senate voted 50-48 Saturday to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, and journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who wrote columns for the Washington Post, went missing Tuesday after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. The Post is reporting he was killed.

What America is Talking About:
A Banksy painting self-destructed after it was purchased for $1.4 million; last weekend set an October box office record, with "Venom" bringing in $80 million and "A Star Is Born" bringing in $40 million; and a new UN report found that the planet will reach 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels by 2030, leading to catastrophic droughts, fires, floods, and food shortages.

Poll of the Day:
A 25-nation Pew survey about five world leaders released last week found President Trump has a lower rating than autocrats like China's Xi Jinping and Russia's Vladimir Putin. The poll found 27% of people had confidence Trump would do the right thing regarding world affairs, while 70% said they had no confidence.  
Credit: Pew

How Millennials Could Kill Politics As We Know It:
Millennials could be one of the biggest political forces in America today, if they wanted. They make up about 22% of the US population, and at some point between November's midterms and the 2020 election, they're expected to surpass baby boomers as America's largest living generation. They're a massive voting bloc, capable of setting policy priorities and swinging elections. They're also grossly underrepresented in American politics.

Millennials are the most independent generation, and Steven Olikara, founder of the nonpartisan group Millennial Action Project told me he thinks Millennials are "rejecting the old partisan boxes, they're rejecting the old binary choices." You can read my story on Millennials political potential here. Send me your thoughts, questions, and hate mail at 🥑🥑🥑

Taylor Swift Says She's Voting for Democrats in November:
TSwift is Red no more. The singer wrote on Instagram last night that she's voting for Democrats Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for House in her home state of Tennessee.

"In the past I've been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now," she said.

Swift said that she votes and has voted "based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights," and specifically spoke out in support of LGBT rights, and against racism and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender.

"I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent," she wrote.

Swift specifically criticized Republican Marsha Blackburn and said her voting record "appalls and terrifies me."
Credit: @taylorswift/Instagram

On Tumblr, Swift liked posts from her fans celebrating her voicing her political opinions, including this photo of her "kicking Republicans" which a fan captioned "tonight's mood."
Credit: carouselofswift/Tumblr

Swift has been criticized for, among other things, the timing of her announcement, with some I've seen saying she waited until she finished the US leg of her Reputation Tour. Her last US stop was Saturday in Arlington, Texas. But it also came the day after Kavanaugh was confirmed (see in the following section what she's said about sexual assault) and two days before the deadline to register to vote in Tennessee.

She was also criticized for turning off the comments on her Instagram, as if she was trying to avoid critics, but y'all, she's had them off for a while, so check yourself before you wreck yourself.

Conservative pundits who were supportive of Kanye West getting political were less supportive of Swift. Charlie Kirk tweeted that Swift had "absolutely no idea" what she was talking about and that her career hasn't recovered "since Kanye ended it" (hun, Reputation is the only album released in the past two years to sell 2 million copies) and Candace Owens accused Swift of using "black people and minorities as pawns to brainwash people." "Fox & Friends" did their thing. Breitbart, which spent a day in 2017 tweeting "Look What You Made Me Do" lyrics along with links to their story, described Swift's criticism of Blackburn as a smear.
Breitbart in 2017 vs. 2018. Credit: @BreitbartNews/Twitter, @wearebreitbart/Instagram

But Tomi Lahren, who has remained firm in not caring about what celebrities think no matter what they say, continued to not care.

I was most looking forward to seeing if Ye had anything to say about Swift's post, but he just deleted his social media accounts. Bummer.

Swift didn't tell her fans who to vote for, but called on them to get educated and vote for the candidates who most closely align with their values.

How We Got From Apolitical Taylor Swift to Blue Dog Tay:
I present to you, a timeline:
  • October 19, 2012: Swift explained she doesn't weigh in on politics because she doesn't know enough during an interview with Time magazine. "I don't talk about politics because it might influence other people," she said. "And I don't think that I know enough yet in life to be telling people who to vote for."
  • October 20, 2014: Swift released her song "Welcome To New York," which seemed to show her support for same-sex marriage with the line, "And you can want who you want/Boys and boys and girls and girls."
  • November 8, 2016: On Election Day 2016, Swift posted a photo in line to vote, but did not indicate who she voted for. Some fans were upset she was not more vocal, while others thought she was dropping a hint that she voted for Clinton because of her off-the-shoulder sweater.
  • December 6, 2017: Swift spoke out in support of sexual harassment and assault victims in 2017 when she was photographed and interviewed for Time magazine as one of their People of the Year "Silence Breakers." "My advice is that you not blame yourself and do not accept the blame others will try to place on you," she said about her advice to victims. "You should not be blamed for waiting 15 minutes or 15 days or 15 years to report sexual assault or harassment."
  • October 7, 2018: Swift announces for the first time ever who she's voting for.
Street Art Sighting:
Utility boxes around Capitol Hill were plastered with posters of Brett Kavanaugh's face Saturday after he was confirmed, many torn up or otherwise defaced. The poster, red with the words "Kava Nope," was made by artist Tracie Ching, and was one of the defining images of the confirmation fight.

The trashed signs were symbolic visuals for a highly partisan confirmation of an especially divisive nominee. Forty-five percent of Americans did not want Kavanaugh confirmed, according to a Gallup poll last week, a higher figure than seven other recent confirmations the organization polled. But 49 Republican Senators and one Democrat voted to confirm him. Bruised, he made it through nonetheless.

Credit: Hunter Schwarz

The confirmation struck a deep political faultline, and it was a story told often in images. Of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, eyes closed, swearing to tell the truth during her testimony; of Kavanaugh's angry and emotional response, which Ching made into a second version of the "Kava Nope" poster, "using the candidate's own facial expression and how he decided to reveal himself," she told me; of the sight of hundreds of protesters filling the Hart Senate Office Building, in the shadows of the towering, abstract statue by Alexander Calder that sits in the atrium.

I also saw it outside the Court Saturday. Miami artist Alessandra Mondolfi, whose work I've shown in this space before, stood dead center in front of the building holding a "Stop Kavanaugh" stop sign. Her message was simple, and people were drawn to it.

"I know how to create images," she said. Mondolfi has worked professionally in design and fabrication, making window displays and trade show displays. She didn't start making political art until after Trump was elected. She said she edits her signs down for maximum simplicity and impact. "I've never been prouder of my work," she said.

Mondolfi makes protest signs that she photographs and turns into street art of disembodied hands holding the signs, drawing attention to the message. Many of the photos taken by photojournalists recreated that look IRL.

Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images

On Instagram, photographer Adrian Wilson mashed-up Banksy's self-destruction stunt with the news. He made two posts out of the idea -- one of the blind Lady Justice and the other of Kavanaugh, both getting shredded. The Kavanaugh one got more likes.

"What is interesting for me is that the justice goddess version is way more true to the Banksy and has a wider message," Wilson DMed me. "But the same image with Kavanaugh takes no thought process so is more popular on social media because it's all about that 'no brainer' quick sucker punch."
Credit: @interiorphotography/Instagram

The power of simple images was true for Kavanaugh supporters, too. After the Senate voted, a man who had been walking around with a blue "I Like Beer" sign pulled out another, red sign that read, "We Just Keep Winning." His signs, both of them, were unsurprisingly hits among the handful of Kavanaugh supporters who gathered.

If you spot political street art, tweet me @hunterschwarz, tag me on Instagram @hunterschwarz, or email me at with your sighting so I can feature it in COVER/LINE.
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