American Idol and AT&T Make Shady Bedfellows


Was American Idol rigged? That’s the question many are asking thanks to one of their biggest corporate sponsors, AT&T. Per this article in the New York Times, they “might have influenced the outcome of this year’s competition by providing phones for free text-messaging services and lessons in casting blocks of votes at parties organized by fans of Kris Allen, the Arkansas singer who was the winner of the show last week.” (Note: AT&T is the only mobile carrier that can be used to text in votes. We had no idea.)

No corporately-sponsored power texting parties were held for Adam Lambert, but according to, which posted instructions for fans on how to power text, you can get 3,000 to 5,000 votes out in two hours.

FOX has declined to comment, and AT&T’s spokesperson is downplaying the scandal: “In Arkansas, we were invited to attend the local watch parties organized by the community. A few local employees brought a small number of demo phones with them and provided texting tutorials to those who were interested.”

While we’ll admit that yesterday’s Prop 8 talk has us going the gay conspiracy theory route, past AT&T celebrity spokespersons include Eva Longoria, Carrot Top, Lauren Conrad, and David Arquette — not Anita Bryant. So no clues there. Also, word is that Allen won by a landslide, so even if 20 people were power texting at the viewing parties in question, it wouldn’t have made a huge difference, right?

We think the bigger issue at hand is AT&T’s weird monopoly over viewer interaction with the show. Remember all the hell Tina Fey got over one well-placed McFlurry?