ABC Draws Heat for Putting Claudia Conway, Daughter of Kellyanne and George, on American Idol: ‘The Worst Sort of Exploitation of a Minor’
ABC is drawing criticism for featuring Claudia Conway — the 16-year-old daughter of former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and Lincoln Project co-founder George Conway — on Sunday night’s episode of American Idol.
Claudia Conway first gained notoriety last year on TikTok — where her videos critical of her mother’s work with former President Donald Trump routinely racked up hundreds of thousands of views. She began speaking in detail about her strained relationship with her parents, and both Kellyanne and George stepped back from their positions, citing family issues. Claudia’s social media videos have since taken a dark turn, as she has accused Kellyanne of abuse, and authorities in New Jersey investigated the posting of a topless photo of Claudia which — she claims — came from her mother and was distributed via her Twitter account.
Last fall, prior to the abuse allegations surfacing, Claudia Conway auditioned for American Idol. The show’s producers and the network moved forward with their plans to televise her appearance on the show and heavily promoted it in the weeks leading up to the broadcast.
George Conway escorted his daughter to her audition, and Kellyanne later appeared by video. Katy Perry, one of the Idol judges, recognized Claudia and immediately expressed concern.
“Are you okay?” Perry asked.
“No, but yes!” Claudia Conway said, laughing.
Kellyanne was seen giving advice and encouragement to her daughter ahead of her audition.
“This is your time to shine,” Kellyanne said. “But remember, honey, winners are people who are willing to lose.”
That last bit struck many viewers as ironic — given Conway’s former boss, and his refusal to acknowledge his election defeat.
Claudia’s appearance was spread out over two segments — during which she sang Rihanna’s “Love on the Brain,” and Adele’s “When We Were Young.” The judges advanced her to the Hollywood finals round of the show — ensuring that she will be seen again in future broadcasts.
After the broadcast, the network drew heat on two different counts. Some viewers, like Variety TV critic Daniel D’Addario, found the telecast to be 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,” D’Addario wrote.
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. My column: https://t.co/OWm8HZWdlE
— Daniel D’Addario (@DPD_) February 15, 2021
Others objected to Kellyanne and George Conway being shown in a favorable light.
“Good work by American Idol in their efforts to rehab the reputation of horrible human @Kellyannepolls,” journalist Soledad O’Brien sarcastically wrote.
Good work by American Idol in their efforts to rehab the reputation of horrible human @KellyannePolls pic.twitter.com/Bkauu4zWON
— Soledad O’Brien (@soledadobrien) February 15, 2021
Here is a sampling of the criticism:
That Claudia Conway thing was cringe-worthy. ABC taking advantage of her in that manner. Guess we are not better in 2021. Bless her.
— Vincent Frank (@VincentFrankNFL) February 15, 2021
I hope Claudia Conway finds all the peace a human being deserves. I do feel, however, that we are making her famous for all the reasons and that too many are engaging in exploiting this child. Lastly, we know the one thing we like to see more than a star rise is a star fall.
— Dr. Omekongo Dibinga (@omekongo) February 15, 2021
It seems like being in a high pressure media spotlight on a show contrived to exploit emotional drama for ratings is the last thing Claudia Conway needs right now. Sigh. https://t.co/haDABJLqo0
— Aisha Sultan (@AishaS) February 15, 2021
You know how we’ve been having a reckoning w/media treatment of Britney and countless other young women in the 90s? And we’ve been reliving horrific interviews, sick to our stomach?
Now remember that Claudia Conway is currently 16 years old and think before you comment about her
— Erin Biba (@erinbiba) February 15, 2021
The whole Claudia Conway #AmericanIdol bit was cringeworthy and I can’t believe the show actually played it up (but also not surprising).
— Clayton Davis (@AwardsCircuit) February 15, 2021
I have never tweeted about Claudia Conway because I’ve always found the entire family drama/dynamic incredibly messed up and I wish she had responsible people around her.
— Alheli Picazo (@a_picazo) February 15, 2021
american idol is so gross for this. claudia conway is a child. period. the same ppl screaming about #freebritney are engaging with this. it’s so weird. https://t.co/2fvmRROT7I
— Adrianna Adarme (@acozykitchen) February 15, 2021
Thank god I didn’t realize this shit show was still on the air and now that I do, what the fuck is wrong with you?
— Tony Posnanski (@tonyposnanski) February 15, 2021
This is disgusting. For so many reasons. I definitely will not be watching. Pathetic.
— christopher dallman (@chrisdallman) February 15, 2021
Should be called ‘B celebrity reputation rehab’ (feel bad for the kid)
— Luke Zaleski (@ZaleskiLuke) February 15, 2021
Anything for profit I guess. Really trying to figure out what the purpose of her appearance is. She worked for and was complicit in all of the abhorrent and inhumane policies set forth by the absolute worst administration we’ve ever survived through. I just don’t get it!
— Edwin Hodge (@EdwinHodge) February 15, 2021
This is gross.
— John Pavlovitz (@johnpavlovitz) February 15, 2021
Isn’t mom being investigated….nvm
— Dave Zirin (@EdgeofSports) February 15, 2021
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