The music press is mishandling Tommy Vext’s support of Donald Trump

Before I start writing, I should preface why I feel entitled to give this opinion. Firstly, I have been a music journalist in some way or another since 2018. Secondly, I fully understand the difficult decisions editors sometimes have to take. Thirdly, I am a mixed-race person who has faced various forms of actual racism, directly and indirectly, my entire life. Make sure you take all of that into account before you critiscise what I have to say.

With that out of the way, let’s get into the meat and potatoes of the whole thing. Tommy Vext (real name Thomas Cummings, according to Wikipedia which as we know is always right when it comes to things like this, obviously) has recently been saying a lot of weird stuff on social media relating to the political situation right now in America. He’s said, amongst other things, that systemic racism doesn’t exist in America, that the American left is funded by George Soros (a popular right-wing conspiracy theory) and most recently has declared his support for the fascist-in-chief Donald Trump in the run-up to the US elections. It was the most recent of his weird declarations (one that’s especially weird considering that Vext is African-American) that set everything off. Vext has been cancelled left, right and centre and deservedly so. It’s gone as far as some radio stations refusing to play Bad Wolves’s music to make a statement that Vext’s views don’t align with theirs.

However, not all is that unified with the music press. Whilst outlets such as Loudwire have rightfully taken a stand on Vext’s insane statements, some outlets have just carried on acting as if he hasn’t said anything at all and are even posting content involving Vext and Bad Wolves after his declaration of solidarity with The Donald. This is what’s really making me angry. Yes, the music press are a very important line of communication between artists and the general public. A good review does wonders in helping with marketing a band’s new album. Interviews can really help get a band out there to the general public or even allow a band a platform they didn’t have before to talk about important issues. The music press is part of the music industry marketing machine and, whether you like it or not, that’s just how it is. However, there is the journalistic aspect of things where sometimes artists need to be held to account. That is what several branches of the music press are failing to do with Vext and his comments.

It’s quite odd that the music press is acting this way, considering the vast majority of people who work or who have worked in the music press (me included) are at least a little bit left-leaning. As such, you’d expect the editorial line at these outlets to see what Vext is saying and think “hold up, this isn’t right. We should probably put something out explaining where we stand on this.” But no, that doesn’t seem to be happening. Apart from Loudwire and maybe a few other places which have made it very clear that they don’t stand for the kind of political nonsense that Donald Trump and others of his ilk are subjecting us to, the music press just doesn’t really seem to care. To me, not only is that very sad, but it’s also a total failure of the journalistic process. You should be holding Vext to account, not allowing him to say whatever nonsense he damn well pleases with no consequences.Yes, we have a right to free speech as residents of societies with democratic principles. We must remember though that freedom of speech doesn’t come with the freedom from the consequences of what we put out into the world. As things are going right now, Tommy Vext hasn’t really had any consequences for what he’s said. Why? Because the press aren’t calling him out anywhere near enough.

I’m sure there is pressure coming from management or PR to put neutral pieces on Vext and Bad Wolves in the music press. It’s pressure, usually self-inflicted, that I experienced myself more than once when I was in a previous role as an assistant editor at a music outlet. You don’t want to rock the boat by making a statement, especially one that’s politically charged. That’s understandable. However, times have changed since the time I was doing that around a year ago. Being neutral about the kind of issues connected with Vext’s most recent public statements is a luxury nobody can afford. We are living in times unprecedented since the 1930s. A proto-fascist is in charge of America and whenever a public figure, who Vext is, makes a statement in strong support of said proto-fascist, action has to be taken to say that you don’t support it. It is not enough to just assume that a person, company or organisation doesn’t support Donald Trump. Nobody can sit on the fence anymore. That time has passed. We’re in the twilight zone now and, unless we actually collectively do something about it, it’s only going to get worse.

As somebody who is still a somewhat active member of the music press and somebody who strives for absolute journalistic integrity as much as possible, I want the music press to do better. We can do better. We must do better. Stop allowing supporters of terrible human beings like Donald Trump to get away with it almost scot-free or with nothing but a slap on the wrist and a few cancellations. People within the music industry like Vext who are openly supportive of a dangerous man like Donald Trump need to be told in no uncertain terms where the door is. As much of a political issue this may be, this is not really about politics. This is not about Republicans vs Democrats or Labour vs Tories or whatever the equivalent is in your country. This is about basic human rights and basic human decency. Let those values prevail and don’t allow people who don’t share those values a platform to spew whatever nonsense they like without consequence. If you take a neutral stance about this for the sake of not upsetting the boat, you are complicit and you need to do something to change that.

Also, revoke his n-word pass. For fuck’s sake.

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