MEDIA WATCH: Racism accusations tarnish 'Idol' voting

A controversy surrounded American Idol in April, when an African-American contestant, Jennifer Hudson, lost out to a reportedly less talented white singer. Elton John fueled the outrage, stating that the results were "incredibly racist." Idol's producer, contestants, and host, Ryan Seacrest, said that viewers simply failed to vote and called fans to get out and do so in the next show. Journalists frequently supported the show's position, noting previous African- American success stories on Idol.

A controversy surrounded American Idol in April, when an African-American contestant, Jennifer Hudson, lost out to a reportedly less talented white singer. Elton John fueled the outrage, stating that the results were "incredibly racist." Idol's producer, contestants, and host, Ryan Seacrest, said that viewers simply failed to vote and called fans to get out and do so in the next show. Journalists frequently supported the show's position, noting previous African- American success stories on Idol.

Most frequent messages

1. Racism caused the voting anomaly

2. Passive viewers did not vote for their favorite, skewing results

3. Storm-caused power failures in Chicago, Hudson's hometown, prevented many from voting

4. Racism was not a factor in the voting

5. A black man won 'American Idol' last season, making racism a less likely theory

Based on 59 US newspaper stories appearing between April 23 and May 3, 2004

Evaluation and analysis by CARMA International

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