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 adam-lambert.org, 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?