Taylor Swift is not a good role model because she is not married: The suspicious author of the viral attack against the singer

The weekly magazine ‘Newsweek’ has published a controversial column that has caused an online stir, but the author is an unknown individual who only writes in ultra-conservative and minority outlets

Taylor Swift at the premiere of her documentary 'The Eras Tour' in Los Angeles in October 2023.
Taylor Swift at the premiere of her documentary 'The Eras Tour' in Los Angeles in October 2023.Mario Anzuoni (REUTERS)
Raquel Peláez

On June 27, Newsweek published an opinion column titled “Taylor Swift Is Not a Good Role Model.” The starting point was undoubtedly explosive: it was a completely obvious clickbait maneuver that became a global trending topic in just a day and a half. Pearls of wisdom in the article included: “Swift’s highly publicized romantic life has been a source of prime tabloid fodder for years. She has dated numerous high-profile men — at least a dozen — including the singers Harry Styles and Joe Jonas, the actor Jake Gyllenhaal, and, more recently, the American football player Travis Kelce. This revolving door of relationships may reflect the normal dating experiences of many young women in today’s world, but it also raises questions about stability, commitment, and even love itself. Should we encourage young girls to see the ‘Swift standard’ as the norm, something to aspire to? Or should we be promoting something a little more, shall we say, wholesome? Would any loving parent reading this want their daughter to date 12 different men in the span of just a few years?”

The invective gives off such a sexist and ultra-conservative smell that the first thing any critical reader might wonder is who the author is. “Swift’s recent rallying cry against patriarchal structures stands in stark contrast to her personal dating choices. The singer often dates strong, influential men — celebrities who embody significant social and economic power. This can appear hypocritical. Hypocrisy fundamentally undermines the ability to be a good role model because it involves a contradiction between one’s actions and the principles or values they publicly advocate,” the column continues. “Swift and Kelce may last, and I hope they do. But, judging by her record, the odds aren’t great.”

The author is a “writer” named John McGhlionn who is listed as a “doctor in psychosocial studies, researcher and essayist” although he does not specify at which university he earned his doctorate, what areas he has researched or what essays he has published. An exhaustive online search does not allow access to any information about said author, except what is displayed under his signature in the opinion forums and journalism pieces (without sources) that he publishes in newspapers known for the low reliability of their contents: The New York Post, The Spectator and the U.S. edition of The Sun, in addition to several digital websites, all created after 2020, in which current events are addressed from a perspective “critical of the great powers and the establishment.” This is the case of the Brownstone Institute website, presented as the digital spokesperson of a conservative association critical of the way the Covid pandemic was managed through policies that were “a failed experiment in full social and economic control in most nations.” He has also collaborated with the minority websites Spiked and Unherd, where he has penned pieces with suggestive headlines such as “Kevin Spacey deserves a comeback,” “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is bad for your health,” “The myth of the trans genocide” and “The fury of Ireland’s farmers.” The articles are all faithful to an editorial line that is suspiciously similar to that which characterizes websites around the globe where “essayists” like this one are clearly aligned with the ideology of new libertarians such as Javier Milei in Argentina, Alvise Pérez in Spain or lie within the orbit of Donald Trump.

The mysterious McGhlionn does not have an account on Twitter (or else it is currently suspended) but he does have one on Gettr, the social media platform created by Donald Trump’s former spokesperson, created after the assault on the Capitol by Trump supporters, which led the major platforms to deny him access. Rounding off the fachosphère feeling surrounding this entire matter is the fact that Newsweek, a weekly magazine that enjoyed a certain prestige until the 1990s and underwent an attempt at revitalization in 2010 with the signing of the legendary editor Tina Brown, has been owned since 2018 by IBT Media, a company specializing in headlines that generate junk traffic. And its star publication is precisely the old weekly, which is achieving a spectacular monthly figure of 100 million unique users thanks to strategies such as the one applied in this Swift column: free controversies and supposedly politically incorrect ideas.

The life cycle that the headline of this opinion piece has followed is just one more example of how in the era of social media and fake news, any ultra-conservative digital troll backed by a structure can dictate the state of opinion or at least the global information agenda for days.

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