Kanye West v Taylor Swift: from the VMAs to the White House, who is winning now?

The stars are at odds yet again as the White House announces West will meet with Trump and Jared Kushner after Swift endorses two Democratic candidates

With every twist in the news cycle, it becomes clearer that the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards was the moment reality fractured.

It was the show at which Kanye West stormed the stage while Taylor Swift was accepting a prize, there to launch his infamous “I’m a let you finish …” speech. Now, years later, still two of the biggest music stars in the world, West and Swift are at odds once again. On either side of a bitter political divide, both are attempting to wield their influence.

In the blue corner, Swift, who on Sunday endorsed two Democratic candidates in her native Tennessee.

In the red corner, West, who will have lunch with Donald Trump on Thursday.

“Kanye West is coming to the White House to have lunch with President Trump and he will also meet with Jared Kushner,” the press secretary, Sarah Sanders, said on Monday morning. “Topics of discussions will include manufacturing resurgence in America, prison reform, how to prevent gang violence, and what can be done to reduce violence in Chicago.”

West was born in Chicago and violence in the city was discussed at his 2016 meeting at Trump Tower, a visit which now seems a harbinger of a still somehow surprisingly close relationship between rapper and president.

On Monday, in front of a crowd of law enforcement officers in Florida, Trump spoke at length about violence in Chicago. He would like, he said, to see the return of “stop and frisk”, a largely ineffective, racist and unconstitutional method of policing.

Prison reform has also been on West’s mind. In an unaired monologue after an appearance on Saturday Night Live he addressed it, sort of, while clarifying, sort of, his seemingly incongruous support for Trump.

“The blacks want always Democrats,” West said, “… you know it’s like the plan they did, to take the fathers out the home and put them on welfare … does anybody know about that? That’s a Democratic plan.

“There’s so many times I talk to, like, a white person about this and they say: ‘How could you like Trump? He’s racist.’ Well, uh, if I was concerned about racism I would’ve moved out of America a long time ago.”

Not long after that West expressed on his Twitter account, which he has since deleted, a desire to see the 13th amendment abolished. He later clarified that he didn’t mean the bits of it that eliminated slavery.

Needless to say, Republicans have been delighted by support for the president from such a big star.

Equally needless to say, Republicans all the way up to Trump were not as charitable in their reaction to Swift’s remarks. The president said he still liked her music, but “maybe 25% less”. Also disappointed were actual white supremacists.

It seems, however, that of the two, it is Swift who is moving the needle.

Kamari Guthrie, the director of communications for vote.org, told BuzzFeed News on Tuesday there was a marked spike in voter registration on the service following Swift’s Instagram post, with 65,000 registrations in a 24-hour period. There were 190,178 such registrations in September and only 56,669 in August.


Luke O'Neil

The GuardianTramp

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