News & Politics

American Idol Is Facing Backlash Over Claudia Conway’s Audition

George Conway accompanied his daughter, and Kellyane Conway made a virtual appearance.

Photograph from @claudiamconway on TikTok.

On Sunday evening, ABC viewers watched as Claudia Conway auditioned on American Idol. The daughter of former Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway and staunch Never Trump-er George Conway made it to the next round after singing an Adele and a Rihanna song. George was with Claudia at the audition, and Kellyanne made a virtual appearance.

Of course, Claudia is already well-known by virtue of her politically infamous parents, who star in in what may be Washington’s most fascinating marriage. The 16-year-old has also garnered attention for her TikTok videos, in which she has spoken out against her mother’s support of Trump, recorded arguments between herself and her mother, and accused Kellyanne of physical and verbal abuse. Her mother also allegedly posted a topless photo of Claudia on Twitter last month.

Due to the dark and upsetting content that Claudia has posted about her family, there was immediate backlash to American Idol’s decision to use the Conway family’s turmoil and a child’s emotional trauma as a narrative for Claudia’s audition.

“If the show is concerned that Claudia lost what has elapsed so far of her youth, the way to redress it would not be by having her spend some small portion of her teen years practicing her persona for millions on TV; if it wanted her to be able to suss out who Claudia is, it might allow her to do it elsewhere and then come back for season 21,” writes Variety film critic Daniel D’Addario in a column. “What ABC has done here is wrong, and should merit deep reflection on the part of producers and executives.”

Across the internet, users had similar reactions, likening the episode to exploitation and a chance for Kellyanne to rehab her image. We rounded up some responses below:

Don’t Miss Another Big Story—Get Our Weekend Newsletter

Our most popular stories of the week, sent every Saturday.

Or, see all of our newsletters. By signing up, you agree to our terms.
Mimi Montgomery Washingtonian
Associate Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. Her work has appeared in Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, DCist, and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Petworth.