By: Mark Fitzgerald
Stars and Stripes debuted a new column Tuesday with a decidedly unserious investigation. Specifically is country singing sensation Taylor Swift a Chinese spy?
“For whatever reason, a reader from San Antonio wrote Stars and Stripes alleging that Swift is a ‘mole from north eastern China,’ adding that entertainers should be ‘screened to check their uterus and equipment for their bugging kits,’” wrote Jeff Schogol in the new column, The Rumor Doctor.
Schogol checked out the rumor rather thoroughly, asking sources ranging from the Chinese embassy to the Brookings Institute, collecting plenty of no-comments or unanswered phone messages in the process.
He did get a response from Swift’s publicist, who was not amused.
“I would appreciate it if you would refrain from running this piece,” Paula Erickson said in an email to Stars and Stripes, “I think it is beyond obvious that Taylor is NOT a Chinese mole, and to even attempt to imply otherwise is defamatory. This is not something we need to dignify with a response.”
Shogol concluded the column this way: “The Rumor Doctor’s diagnosis: Unfounded. If you still believe that Taylor Swift is a Chinese spy, see a real doctor.”
Schogol said future columns will be both “humorous or serious depending on the rumor.” The column is envisioned now as a weekly piece, but could run more often depending on the number of rumors he’s tipped to, he added in a phone interview.
Among the sources Schogol called for comment was the U.S. Communist Party, leaving messages in a variety of places including the party’s Twitter and Facebook accounts. No home-grown party member managed to get back to him with a comment. “But I guess I shouldn’t have expected the Communist Party to be a model of efficiency,” Schogol said.