ABC is under fire for featuring 16-year-old Claudia Conway on American Idol. Critics are calling it the “worst sort of exploitation of a minor” on reality TV. During the audition, singer Katy Perry, one of the show’s judges, asked the teen if her mother still hugs her and encouraged her to channel her “sadness” while singing.
Conway is the daughter of former Donald Trump spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway and left-wing political operative George Conway, a co-founder of the disgraced “Lincoln Project” super PAC.
Conway became a media sensation after making TikTok posts highlighting divisions in the family. The teen has told her fans that she was looking into becoming emancipated from her parents.
“Are you okay?” Katy Perry asked as Conway walked onto the set for her audition.
“No,” Conway laughed. “No, but yes.”
Perry went on to ask the girl if her mother still hugs her, given “the figure that she is.”
“With your mom being the figure that she is, do you still, like, does she still hug you?” asked Perry.
“I mean, yeah, she loves me, I love her. It’s just, I feel like our relationship’s a little — it’s a little iffy,” Conway replied.
Conway added that she now wants to “get out of the controversy” and “get out of the drama” to focus on her career as a singer. Before she performed her rendition of Adele’s “When We Were Young,” Perry encouraged her to channel her “sadness.”
Following her audition, critics took to social media to accuse ABC executives of taking advantage of the teenager.
“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,” tweeted Variety‘s Daniel D’Addario.