Out of Scope

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Written by

Hirsch Leatherwood

Out of Scope

Miss Americana and the NFL

Plus: Commander Biden, bedbugs, and country music's woes

Banner Photo: Elsa/Getty

Happy Friday! This week, we finally weigh in on the Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift of it all. But first:


  • A high-powered government figure left his post this week, shaking up the nation’s capital. We are of course talking about Commander Biden, the President’s German Shepherd, who was removed from the White House following several biting incidents and an ensuing social media backlash.

  • Another day, another Elon Musk brouhaha. 22-year-old Ben Brody is suing Musk for libel after the billionaire wrongly identified him as a participant in a brawl between right-wing radicals in Portland. Musk and his brand, X, continue to be politically polarizing, chaotic, and a potentially unsafe bet for brands.

  • Ozempic's impact is resonating across industries, including major food brands. They're closely studying how this weight-loss drug will transform consumer eating habits, likely affecting their financial performance and communication strategies with investors and the public. And with nearly 7% of the US population projected to be on weight-loss drugs by 2035, Ozempic's impact will only grow.

💡 ON OUR MINDS: Miss Americana and the NFL

  • Rumors are running rampant surrounding Taylor Swift’s potential relationship with Kansas City Chief tight end Travis Kelce, inundating the media cycle in a way that feels almost unprecedented.

  • While Swifties hope Taylor has found her forever and always, others speculate that motivations could involve a joint marketing ploy or even a change in Taylor’s SEO narrative.

  • The NFL is also reaping Tayvis-related benefits, with a sudden influx in younger and female viewers, a demographic they’ve attempted to engage for years. The Taylor Swift Effect is undeniable: Travis’ jersey sales have spiked 400%, and Sunday night viewership is skyrocketing.

  • The league is so committed to honoring Miss Americana herself that they’ve changed their social bios and gone wall to wall with their coverage of her. They’ve even requested their partner networks to promote the star’s upcoming concert film for free.

  • Whether you’re a Chiefs fan, a Swiftie, or an NFL executive, everyone seems invested in this storyline continuing. More importantly, it appears that marketing mastermind Taylor Swift has won, once again.

✍️ THE TK: Country Music’s PR Problem

HL’s resident country music fan, Max, reflects on the genre’s crisis.

Photo: Mike Caudill/Billboard via Getty Images

Mammas, don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys—or country music stars, for that matter.

At first glance, it’d seem country music has had a fun and healthy resurgence in recent months, with Morgan Wallen’s “Last Night” and Luke Combs’ cover of “Fast Car” gracing the top of the charts this summer. The genre’s success continued into the fall with the recent #1 hit “I Remember Everything” from singer Zach Bryan and starlet Kacey Musgraves. But politics and culture war discourse has cast a pall over the genre’s moment in the sun.

Early this summer, the chart-topping track “Try That In A Small Town” from Jason Aldean launched a thousand think pieces, wading into the often icky politics that cloud music set in the country’s heartlands. Aldean, not from a small town, caught intense criticism for the arguably pro-lynching, potentially anti-Black anthem. Similarly, the sleeper hit “Rich Men North of Richmond” was quickly co-opted by right-wing listeners this summer, much to the chagrin of the artist. The track even prominently appeared in the first Republican presidential debate of the 2024 cycle, sparking swift, critical judgement from the media. 

In short, country music is having a weird, major PR crisis.

There’s a lot that has created this bizarre moment: an anti-boycott mindset from a conservative listenership, the widening gap between what the media understands about what average Americans consume, and audiences expecting artists to be more political and outspoken in their performances. 

Country music has long used constructed narratives about classic conventions like breakups and dive bars to touch on grander narratives about pride, poverty, and the anxieties of daily American life. It’s sad to see one of our greater storytelling mediums in such a crisis—and worse still to see so many in the media maligning the genre at large.

With times changing and its stars riding high, country music is at a crossroads—pay attention, buckaroo.


In case you missed these reads.

  • “Drew Barrymore Show” writers declined to return to the show following the end of the WGA strike, showing us there is no mending fences after crossing picket lines.
  • AI is predicted to reshape political advertising during the 2024 election cycle, adding another layer to combating misinformation. 
  • Sacré bedbug! An infestation has broken out in Paris, and officials are trying to curb the infestation before the pests take the lead in the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Thanks for reading,


This week’s newsletter is brought to you by Martin Scorsese learning Gen Z slang. Fingers crossed we'll hear Robert DeNiro say, "sneaky link" soon!