Much ado about nothing — that's how Fox Networks and AT&T responded on Wednesday (May 27) to a New York Times report about watch parties in Arkansas at which AT&T employees reportedly showed Kris Allen fans how to "power vote" for the "American Idol" champ.
"Fox and the producers of 'American Idol' are absolutely certain that the results of this competition are fair, accurate and verified," read a statement from the show's producers, FremantleMedia North America, 19 Entertainment and Fox Broadcasting Company. "Kris Allen is, without a doubt, the 'American Idol.' We have an independent third-party monitoring procedure in place to ensure the integrity of the voting process. In no way did any individuals unfairly influence the outcome of the competition."
The Times story, which was based on reporting originally found in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, noted that some AT&T employees were present at an undetermined number of pro-Allen parties in the singer's hometown of Conway, Arkansas, last week, helping his supporters lodge multiple votes.
AT&T, a major corporate sponsor of "Idol," released a statement on Wednesday as well, explaining that the employees who offered the help were not there on official business and were simply caught up in the excitement of the moment. "Last week, countless parties were held in homes, bars and other public places across America to watch the 'American Idol' finale," read the statement. "In Arkansas, a few local AT&T employees were invited to attend two local watch parties organized by the community. Caught up in the enthusiasm of rooting for their hometown contestant, they brought a small number of demo phones with them and provided texting tutorials to those who were interested. Going forward, we will make sure our employees understand our sponsorship celebrates the competition, not individual contestants. That said, it's quite a leap to suggest that a few individuals could have impacted the final results."
Nearly 100 million votes were cast in the "Idol" finale, according to Fox, and exhaustive "Idol" fan site MJsBigBlog.com said this "controversy" is old news.
"If the Times writer had any sense of 'Idol' history, he'd know that AT&T rep-attended Idol parties have been going on for years," site founder MJ Santilli wrote on Wednesday. "I remember hearing about reps helping Elliott Yamin and Taylor Hicks fans text back in Season 5. ... It's business as usual for Idol sponsors AT&T, who attend these 'Idol' viewing parties hoping to sell more phone services. No big conspiracy theories here. And anyway, I highly doubt a couple of phone salespeople showing some Kris Allen fans how to text-vote made a difference in last week's results."
A spokesperson for AT&T did not respond to requests for comments on Santilli's claims at press time.
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