The jab was in response to Swift’s acceptance speech at the MTV Video Music Awards, where she criticized President Donald Trump and his administration for not responding to an official White House petition she started to garner an answer about their opposition to the Equality Act. The Equality Act ensures certain protections for LGBTQ+ people, and while it passed the House over the summer, it faltered in the Senate and does not have the support of the White House.
On Fox News, as Variety points out, Conway said that she liked Swift’s song “You Need to Calm Down” and sang the line “If you say it on the street, that’s a knockout/If you put it in a tweet, that’s a cop-out,” before adding, “I love that! I mean, that basically is Washington in a nutshell” (it’s unclear if the Trump administration official recognized the irony in her statement).
Conway went on to bemoan “Hollywood and singers” getting political, and suggested Swift’s stance backfired, noting her support for the Democratic candidate in the 2018 Tennessee Senate race didn’t pan out. “She’s also somebody who went up against President Trump head to head in the United States Senate race in Tennessee and lost handily,” Conway said. “Marsha Blackburn is our United States senator now.”
But while taking on Swift is one thing, Conway may have made a critical error in belittling the singer’s devoted fan base as well. “I would love to ask her audience if they even know what that is, [what] the Equality Act is and isn’t,” Conway said. “She’s welcome to her opinion. I can tell you there’s a lot of poison pills in it.”
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When asked what those poison pills were, Conway offered no specifics and turned the conversation to the economy.
Along with Conway’s appearance on Fox News, the White House did share a response to Swift’s Equality Act petition — though as Pitchfork points out, the statement was basically the same one they shared in May: “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,” White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said.