Was “American Idol” Fixed?

Last week, when underdog Kris Allen won “American Idol” over clear favorite Adam Lambert, my jaw dropped. I wanted to call foul, but I didn’t have proof until today. According to the New York Times, last week’s “Idol” finale is the new 2000 election. They say the vote may have been unfairly rigged, thanks to some wheeling and dealing by AT&T, Idol’s main corporate sponsor. Recount in Arkansas! Please, thank you! After the jump, the sordid details. The Times says that AT&T rocked the vote by providing free phones and text messaging to two Kris Allen “voting parties” in Arkansas. At said parties, AT&T reps also taught Allen’s supporters to send 10 or more texts, called “power texts,” with the touch of a button—a dirty practice because the on-screen statement at the end of each episode warns viewers that blocks of votes cast using “technical enhancements” will be thrown out.

AT&T released a suspicious statement yesterday clarifying that, if this happened, it was the work of a few random AT&T employees—i.e. not company policy. “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.”

And I thought it was unfair that only AT&T customers got to vote on “Idol.” What kind of democracy is this?!