Mike Lee quotes Taylor Swift at Senate hearing and gets the internet’s attention

The Utah senator joined others in the subcommittee hearing by referencing the pop musician’s lyrics.

(Andrew Harnik | AP) Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, left, speaks with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., right, during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to examine how to promote competition and protect consumers in live entertainment on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday on 24 January 2023.

It might be an understatement to say that Senator Mike Lee is a Swiftie, but he knows at least a few of Taylor Swift’s songs.

At a Senate subcommittee hearing Tuesday to investigate the ticket seller Ticketmaster, the Utah Republican was one of several lawmakers who followed the lead of the chairman, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota. in quoting lyrics from Swift’s songs.

These quotes have skyrocketed on platforms like TikTok and Twitteras senators referenced some of the artist’s most iconic charts.

There is one from “Blank Space” when Lee spoke on limiting ticket resale to keep prices down, “I think it’s a nightmare dressed up as a daydream.”

“Karma is a relaxing thought, not envious of you are you?” Lee said in a clip that drew from the track “Karma” on Swift’s latest album release “Midnights.”

In another clip, captured by Forbes from the C-SPAN feed, Lee references the classic “You Belong With Me.” “She’s the cheer captain and I’m in the stands,” Lee said of Klobuchar. “Nice of Taylor Swift to have written a song about this particular situation.” (Klobuchar chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Competition, Antitrust and Consumer Rights; Lee is the ranking Republican on the subcommittee.)

Lee brushed aside the joke to emphasize the purpose of the hearing: To investigate allegations that Ticketmaster has a monopoly on the live entertainment market — and whether the company’s dominance of the ticketing industry led to its spectacular collapse when Swift’s “Eras Tour” tickets went on sale in November.

In 2010, Ticketmaster absorbed Live Nation, a company that owns and operates the majority of live music venues in the United States—including Utah’s USANA Amphitheater and The Depot. The merger, many industry critics say, has made it impossible for artists and fans alike to use other services to book tours or sell tickets to shows. Swift’s tour, combined with her far-reaching fan base, led to an investigation into Ticketmaster’s market dominance.

Both Republicans and Democrats grilled Ticketmaster officials at Tuesday’s hearing. They also discussed possible measures including making the tickets non-transferable to cut down on scalping and demanding more transparency in ticket fees. Some thought it might be necessary to break up Ticketmaster and Live Nation as well.

“The thing is, Live Nation/Ticketmaster is the 800-pound gorilla here,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut. “This whole concert ticket system is a mess, a monopolistic mess.”

Live Nation President and CFO Joe Berchtold apologized to fans and Swift on Tuesday, saying the company knows it needs to do better. Berchtold said Ticketmaster has spent $1 billion over the past decade trying to improve its security and stop bots.

“We have to do better and will do better,” he said.

Competitors, like Seat Geek CEO Jack Groetzinger, said that while Live Nation doesn’t own a venue, it prevents competition by signing multi-year contracts with arenas and concert halls to provide ticketing services. If these venues do not agree to use Ticketmaster, Live Nation may withhold acts. This makes it difficult for competitors to disrupt the market.

“The only way to restore competition is to break up Ticketmaster and Live Nation,” Groetzinger said.

Lee said Tuesday that the Justice Department is again investigating Live Nation after the Swift ticket fiasco. At this point, he said, Congress should be asking whether the department was right to allow the merger to go forward in the first place.

“It is very important that we maintain fair, free, open and even fierce competition,” Lee said. “It increases the quality and it reduces the price. We want those things to happen.”

Editor’s note • The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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