Did American Idol Learn a Lesson About Cheap Background Checks?

cheap background checksIf you have been reading my articles for a while then you have heard me rant and rave about cheap background checks.  They are prevalent in our industry, quite frankly, because most background screening firms are focused on profit instead of safety. But even with my ranting, I have always pointed my finger at the screening industry for not taking the high road and educating organizations.  I do not generally point fingers at individual organizations unless you have been educated and still choose to use cheap products that place people’s safety at risk.  Then you are negligent.

However, today, I have to step back and say, what the heck American Idol.  I admit, with hesitancy, that I am a closet watcher of the show but always am quick to pass it off that my wife makes me watch it.  Really she does.  She used to be a cop, remember.

Here is what troubles me though.  I don’t know what Ryan Seacrest, Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson make, but if you believe what you read then combined it probably exceeds $100 million.

So an organization that can throw around that much money is relying on a self-report application?  Seriously?  Do you honestly think people with something to hide are going to disclose it?

No way.  And it did not work this week.

It was discovered that one of the final 12, the Gentle Giant Jermaine Jones, has criminal records for lying to police and 4 outstanding warrants.  Oops.  He didn’t understand the question on the application and checked the wrong box.

Let’s be real.  The man can sing but he has shown a history of breaking the law and lying about his identity.

Do you think Fox wishes they would have spent $50 (or less…give me a call we can work something out) to find out that the Jermaine Jones, not only had a criminal background but also had 4 outstanding warrants?

The truth is that if American Idol required quality background checks on those making it to the Hollywood round, maybe 100 contestants (guessing) then they would have $5,000 or less invested.  That is peanuts.

And maybe a criminal background check policy would have encouraged the Gentle Giant to come clean and changed the whole course of his life.  Maybe a screening program would have encouraged him to be honest.  He gets his dirty laundry cleaned and becomes a success story.

At a minimum, American Idol would have a better understanding who they are working with and minimize the risk of negative exposure like this.  Cheap insurance.

I think the real disconnect for me is why they were not conducting criminal records checks.  We partner with thousands of cash-strapped not-for-profits across the U.S. that operate on a shoe-string budget and they find ways to fund a quality background screening program.  Obviously not the same problem for cash-cow American Idol.

I have no earthly idea why.  Naivete?  Apathy?  We may never know.

The lesson for all of us is that cheap background checks do not work. They never have and never will.  Background screening requires a myriad of checks and balances to make sure somebody with an unsuitable criminal record does not slip through the cracks.

If you want to do background checks correctly, contact us.  We would love to partner with you.

What are your thoughts on the cheap background checks used by America Idol?