Season 4 of American Idol premiered on Sunday, February 14. And one of the first to audition this season was Claudia Conway. The sixteen-year-old hopeful is TikTok famous for her explosive videos featuring her mother, Kellyanne Conway. The former White House advisor to President Trump and her daughter have greatly differing political views. Claudia documented their occasionally volatile relationship. Since airing the episode showing Claudia’s audition ABC has received a backlash against their extreme focus on the teenager.
Some outlets have called ABC’s use of the teen’s popularity and the drama involving her family exploitive.
Claudia told the judges before her audition that she often felt like she had no voice in her household. Her parents are outspoken politicos on opposite sides of the political aisle. Her mother worked for President Trump and her father, George, is a constant critic of Trump. Claudia felt lost and unsure of herself, but once she found social media, she felt heard.
Claudia documented the strife between the Conways over the last few months, and it has become explosive. In August Claudia announced she was pursuing emancipation. Last month she published a video that showed her mother appearing to be verbally abusive. Claudia recently accused her mother of leaking a nude photo of her which she later recanted. But the dispute required a police response.
Claudia’s audition and backlash
During the pre-audition wait, Kellyanne made an appearance via video chat to encourage and wish Claudia well during her audition. Claudia admitted to the judges that she and her mother love each other but their relationship “is iffy”.
Claudia passed her audition on American Idol with a yes from both Lionel Richie and Katy Perry. But Luke Bryan chose to say no because he thought Claudia lacked the necessary vocal range. Writers are accusing ABC of using Claudia’s family strife to boost ratings. “[ABC is] rethinking how they are going to position Claudia and Kellyanne with promotion,” a source said.
The source continues, “[It’s] jarringly wrong about this is the degree to which a child at the center of a dispute that has bled into public view is being asked to launder the reputations of two adults [Kellyanne and her controversial politico husband, George] who should know better.”
Is American Idol using Claudia for ratings?
Because of these articles, an insider at ABC has confessed that the station is considering changing its future promos. The insider says, “They were big on putting Claudia in all of the promos, but now they are thinking of not putting as much focus on that … to not make as big a deal of her being on the show and focus on other contestants.”
ABC is already suffering from serious disapproval in another sector due to the backlash over their series The Bachelor. Chris Harrison, the host of The Bachelor, recently stepped aside. He chose to do this after a divisive interview where he appeared to condone alleged racism. The source focused on that, “Given everything with The Bachelor, they don’t want any more unnecessary attention or backlash.”
ABC is looking to refocus its promotional material for American Idol and take the attention off Claudia. Although ABC is changing its direction Claudia’s family does not believe she is being exploited by the show. Someone close to the family noted that Idol regularly has minors participate in the competition accompanied by a guardian. “Claudia has been exploited by many people, but not American Idol. Claudia wanted to [audition],” and it’s “not fair to Claudia. She worked really hard for her audition.”
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