Bad Blood: Taylor Swift Threatens to Sue Blogger for Defamation
Taylor Swift has a list of names and Megan Herning’s is in red, underlined. On September 5, 2017, Herning posted an article on PopFront, a website created in 2013 for political blogs, titled Swiftly to the alt-right: Taylor subtly gets the lower case kkk in formation. The article, beyond even Swift’s wildest dreams, directly questions Swift’s very own reputation. In her post, Herning dissects the lyrics of Swift’s latest song “Look What You Made Me Do” and indicates that Swift is an “icon of white supremacists, nationalists, and other fringe groups.” Herning also compares images from one of Swift’s music videos to imagery of Hitler, proposes that neo-Nazis and white supremacists look up to the singer, and demands that Swift clarify her stance on white supremacy.
Swift’s legal team knew Herning was trouble when she walked in, and sent Herning a letter claiming that the post was defamation and threatened to pursue a lawsuit against her. In the letter, Swift’s team also demanded that Herning issue a retraction, remove the story from all media sources, and cease and desist. Moreover, the letter included Swift’s denouncement of the white supremacist movement, but prohibited Herning from publishing the denouncement based on copyright protection.
Refusing to just shake it off, Swift’s legal team specifically stated that “the story is replete with demonstrable and offensive falsehoods which bear no relation to reality or the truth about Ms. Swift. It appears to be a malicious attack against Ms. Swift that goes to great lengths to portray Ms. Swift as some sort of white supremacist figurehead, which is baseless fiction masquerading as fact and completely misrepresents Ms. Swift.” Swift’s lawyer pressed further, stating that “The association of Ms. Swift with Adolf Hitler undisputedly is ‘harmful,’ ‘abusive,’ ‘ethnically offensive,’ ‘humiliating to other people,’ ‘libelous,’ and ‘no doubt otherwise objectionable.’”
Herning contacted the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California after receiving the letter. The ACLU issued a statement that Swift’s legal claims are unsupported and that this is an attempt to suppress constitutionally protected speech.