ABC is facing critique after the 16-year-old daughter of former White House Senior Counselor Kellyanne Conway and Lincoln Project co-founder George Conway was featured on Sunday’s episode of American Idol.
Claudia Conway shot to fame last year on TikTok, on which she sharply criticized her mother's work with former president Donald Trump. The videos would receive hundreds of thousands of views. She also spoke about her difficult relationship with both parents and they subsequently stepped down from their jobs to handle family issues.
Claudia's videos have also included accusations of abuse toward Kellyanne. New Jersey authorities investigated a post of a topless photo of Claudia, which the minor claims originated from her mother.
Last fall, Claudia auditioned for ABC's American Idol. The producers and the network decided to televise her appearance, despite the family difficulties Claudia has been handling. ABC also heavily promoted that appearance.
George Conway took Claudia to her audition and Kellyanne checked in via video. Katy Perry, an Idol judge, realized who Claudia was and seemed concerned.
“Are you okay?” asked Perry.
“No, but yes!” Claudia Conway laughed.
Kellyanne gave advice and encouragement to Claudia before the audition.
“This is your time to shine,” Kellyanne said. “But remember, honey, winners are people who are willing to lose.”
Many viewers found that more than a bit ironic, given Kellyanne's former boss, the president of the United States, refused to admit his election defeat in a series of repeated lies purporting mass voter fraud.
Claudia performed Rihanna’s “Love on the Brain,” and Adele’s “When We Were Young.” She was advanced to the final rounds of the show, which means she will be seen again.
The network quickly faced heat for two reasons. First, many viewers found the show exploitative.
“Claudia Conway’s appearance on ‘American Idol’ — the worst sort of exploitation of a minor that reality TV has done in memory — ought to prompt real soul-searching among ABC executives,” Variety TV critic Daniel D'Addario wrote.