Leaked Trump Admin Docs Rule Out Billie Eilish For Ad Campaign
UPDATE: The Washington Post misrepresented the Trump administration’s mention of Billie Eilish in the original document tracking the political views of celebrities as part of an effort to rule them out for ad campaigns. The document was quoting the speech that Eilish made at the Democratic National Convention in August in which she said that Trump was “destroying our country and everything we care about,” not that Eilish was.
It appears that the Trump administration recently made politically motivated changes to a planned $250 million advertising campaign that was intended to “defeat despair and inspire hope” amidst the coronavirus pandemic. The campaign was set to feature various celebrities, but The Washington Post reports that Trump’s Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Michael Caputo proposed instead that a theme for the ads should be “Helping The President Help The Country.” Trump, his political appointees, and the consultants that they hired also attempted to vet the celebrities who would be used in the ad campaign, omitting anyone who had been critical of Trump or his policies. It looks like they were especially apoplectic about the idea of Billie Eilish being involved.
According to a document obtained by the Post, Eilish was vetoed because she’s “not a Trump supporter” and also because she is “destroying our country and everything we care about.” (Duh.) The administration also refused to allow musicians like Jennifer Lopez, Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine, and Justin Timberlake to participate, using the rationale that all of them are liberals who support Obama or gay rights. None of them were singled out for destroying the country, though.
Per the Post:
The administration ultimately approved only 10 celebrities to participate in a PSA program: actor Dennis Quaid; gospel singer CeCe Winans; singer Marc Anthony; Hasidic singer Shulem Lemmer; Mehmet Oz, known as the television doctor Dr. Oz; country singers Billy Ray Cyrus, Miranda Lambert and Garth Brooks; former basketball player Dwyane Wade; and singer Enrique Iglesias.
What a weird list!
In a letter to the Department Of Health And Human Services, some Democratic lawmakers raised alarms on the political implications and conflicts of interest, and they also noted that Caputo has been trying to steer the campaign toward subcontractors who are business associates or political allies. None of the PSAs in this series have aired, and the campaign is “under review at HHS.” Caputo is currently on a 60-day leave of absence that he took after telling Trump supporters to be ready for an armed insurrection during a Facebook live event; he declined to comment. You can read the Post’s full report here.