Taylor Swift threatens legal action against blogger
In this Feb. 28, 2016 file photo, singer Taylor Swift attends the Vanity Fair Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills, Calif. Swift posted the title of her new album, 'reputation,' and announced on Instagram it will be out Nov. 10. (Photo by Evan Agostini / Invision / AP, File)
Published Tuesday, November 7, 2017 8:01PM EST
Taylor Swift, the chart-topping singer known for high-profile spats with Kanye West, Kim Kardashian and Katy Perry, has entered into a new feud – this time with a little-known blogger who suggested that Swift isn’t doing enough to denounce neo-Nazi and white supremacist fans.
Swift’s legal team issued a legal notice to PopFront, a California-based blog with fewer than 300 Twitter followers, demanding a retraction of its article, “Swiftly to the alt-right: Taylor subtly gets the lower case kkk in formation,” which accuses the singer without any evidence of supporting the white supremacist movement.
The story, written by editor Meghan Herning, suggests that Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” music video contains imagery that is “subtle, quiet white support of a racial hierarchy.”
She goes on to accuse Swift of not doing enough to personally distance herself from white nationalists.
“There is no way to know for sure if Taylor is a Trump supporter or identifies with the white nationalist message, but her silence has not gone unnoticed.”
Lawyers representing Swift deny the story’s premise. In a letter dated Oct. 27, Los Angeles-based law firm Venable LLP said the story “goes to great lengths to portray Ms. Swift as some sort of white supremacist figurehead, which is a baseless fiction masquerading as fact and completely misrepresents Ms. Swift.”
The letter cites two previous stories by the Huffington Post and the Washington Post that similarly point out Swift’s alt-right fan base, but include statements from
Swift’s attorney denouncing the groups. Neither story includes a quote from Swift herself.
Swift’s lawyer also claims PopFront is “substantially liable to Ms. Swift for defamation.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, which has stepped in to defend Herning, says the blog post is an opinion piece that is protected by the First Amendment.
The group says Herning’s post was “a mix of political speech and critical commentary” and that Swift’s lawyers were using “intimidation tactics” to try to bully the blogger – including a statement that the letter should not be republished under copyright law.
“Not in her wildest dreams can Ms. Swift use copyright law to suppress this exposure of a threat to constitutionally protected speech,” said ACLU attorney Matt Cagle in a statement.
For her part, Herning is standing behind her story.
“The press should not be bullied by high-paid lawyers or frightened into submission by legal jargon,” Herning said in a statement. “These scare tactics may have worked for Taylor in the past, but I am not backing down.”
News of the spat comes just days before Swift’s new album, “Reputation,” drops on Friday.