I am a big fan of the American experience and the American experiment [excluding the many mistakes we’ve made and continue to make of course] and American Idol in particular, and I do not believe that Idol is rigged. I have read (I think it was in Newsweek during the Ruben Studdard / Clay Aiken controversies) that producers do not treat all contestants equally however, so if by “rigged” one means to ask “is it unfair” I think the answer is almost certainly yes, but not unfair enough to make a huge difference in the results, which are overwhelmingly a function of millions of votes by people all over the country.
Especially with the recent early departure of favorite American Idol Contestant Pia Toscano, some have suggested as they always do that the voting is not representative but I think it’s brilliantly representative in the sense that the show manages to build popularity and a fan base for even those that get eliminated, many of whom wind up with contracts from the American Idol producers.
Many Idols – even losers – go on to become huge stars like Daughtry, Clay Aiken, and Jennifer Hudson. American Idol is the most fertile ground for stardom in decades – perhaps in the history of entertainment – and they aren’t going to mess that up by rigging the results.