ABC's American Idol has been branded as "exploitative" after they appeared to promote Claudia Conway's tumultuous relationship with her mother, former Donald Trump advisor Kellyanne, to gain viewership. Now, the show is reportedly debating whether they should take the spotlight off of the rising TikTok star to avoid further backlash.
ABC is "rethinking how they are going to position Claudia and Kellyanne with promotion," a source dished. "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."
As OK! previously reported, Claudia's audition for the competition show was shown on the season premiere, which aired on Sunday, February 14. Leading up to episode's debut, the network put Claudia — who has recently made headlines for documenting her explosive relationship with her mom on TikTok — front and center of the season by featuring her in multiple promos.
Kellyanne even appeared via video to show encouragement during Claudia's audition, which dad George was in attendance for.
Critics have since slammed the network for exploiting Claudia's family drama to boost ratings. A Variety article noted, "The first thing that feels 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 George] who should know better."
Meanwhile, a source close to the family said the Conways don't feel the show exploited the young social media star. "Claudia has been exploited by many people," they said, "but not American Idol."
The insider explained to Page Six that the show regularly has minors who are accompanied by a parent or guardian when they go for their audition. "Claudia wanted to do it,” said the source, before adding that these allegations are "not fair to Claudia. She worked really hard for her audition."
For months now, the 16-year-old has been airing her family's dirty laundry on TikTok. Most recently, as OK! reported, Kellyanne was under investigation after a topless photo of her minor daughter was allegedly posted on her Twitter account.
ABC is also in hot water with their show The Bachelor. Chris Harrison temporarily stepped down as host of the reality dating show after a shocking interview, during which he defended one of Bachelor Matt James' contestants, Rachael Kirkconnell, after alleged photos of the 24-year-old resurfaced and were deemed "racist."
"Given everything with The Bachelor, they don’t want any more unnecessary attention or backlash," the source added.