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.

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.

Here is a sampling of the criticism:


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Joe DePaolo is a Senior Editor at Mediaite. Email him here: Follow him on Twitter: @joe_depaolo