Published Oct 29, 2020In the weeks leading up to the American election, it has come to light that hundreds of celebrities were vetted for a partisan Donald Trump-backed ad campaign positioned as an effort to "defeat despair and inspire hope" amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Of the 274 artists and celebrities named in a leaked document, only 10 were approved for the campaign, while the others, including Billie Eilish, were cut from the list, either for not supporting Trump, supporting gay rights, voting for Barack Obama or all of the above.
Eilish, specifically, was named for not being a Trump supporter and for stating that the president is "destroying our country and everything we care about." The documents obtained by the Washington Post further reveal a long list of celebs who were vetoed out of participation for their perceived leftist beliefs.
Among the others named in the documents were Jennifer Lopez, for her critique of the administration's immigration policies; Adam Levine, who is named as "liberal Democrat who supported Obama and fights for gay rights"; Jack Black, a "classic Hollywood liberal"; filmmaker Judd Apatow for his comments about Trump's incompetence as president; Justin Timberlake, for his support of Obama and gay rights; Johnny Depp for aligning himself with "the liberal left"; Christina Aguilera for the Obama-liberal-gay-rights trifecta and more.
Meanwhile, the varied list of the approved celebrities is equally as baffling.
Trump-approved figures include Dennis Quaid, CeCe Winans, Marc Anthony, Shulem Lemmer, Dr. Oz, Billy Ray Cyrus, Miranda Lambert, Garth Brooks, Dwyane Wade and Enrique Iglesias.
It's unclear who of those approved named above have opted to sign onto the campaign officially, but three of them did sit for interviews. So far, none of their PSAs have aired and all of them had withdrawn their consent to appear in the ads.
Three high-ranking Democrat lawmakers raised the issue of the partisan vetting process in a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services. The ad contract — which is now under review by the department — would cost taxpayers $250 million USD.
CORRECTION (10/29, 6 p.m. ET): An earlier version of this story misattributed a quote to the leaked Trump administration's documents. The document references a speech Eilish made at the Democratic National Convention in 2020. Eilish stated that Donald Trump "is destroying our country and everything we care about." The document does not say the same about Eilish.