'I think we get set up,' Bryan said of the 'American Idol' judges.
Luke Bryan is sticking up for Katy Perry. In an interview during CMA Fest, the 46-year-old American Idol judge defended his co-star against criticism she received during the most recent season of the show.
"When it comes down to are fans too hard on Katy, you know, listen, Katy Perry's been dealing with stuff like that her whole career," he said. "We all get it. I mean, we're judging kids that people at home fall in love with, so we're not gonna bat 1,000 as judges."
Even with that in mind, Bryan thinks that he, Perry and Lionel Richie "get set up" as judges on the show.
"We kind of fall on the sword a lot of times and get set up to where people can get very vocal on socials and stuff," he said. "My thing is, I think when me and Lionel and Katy sit down at the desk, in our hearts we're doing the best we can."
Though they do their best, Bryan said, "Katy gets picked on for going out and trying to have fun making a TV show."
"You can't be so safe in the moment that you're so homogenized, you can't ever go for a joke or go for a fun moment," he said. "Sometimes, you just gotta say stuff."
When Perry does "roll the dice on TV" by making comments, how those get "perceived" can lead to backlash, Bryan said. Bryan doesn't believe it's Perry-specific, though, as he noted, "It may be my year next year."
"We're conditioned and calloused for it," Bryan said of himself, Perry and Richie. "Katy's been dealing with that. On a whole it makes me appreciate her even more, just how big of a scale she's had to deal with that her whole career."
One of the biggest controversies of the season came when Perry, who was booed for the first time this season, was accused of "mom shaming" Sara Beth Liebe, a 25-year-old mom of three who auditioned for Idol.
"Honey, you've been laying on the table too much," Perry quipped, referencing the young mother's family.
After the fact, Liebe took to TikTok to address the situation, noting, "It was embarrassing to have that on TV, and it was hurtful and that's that. I think that women supporting and uplifting other women is so cool and I think that mom shaming is super lame and I think that it's hard enough to be a mom and it's hard enough to be a woman."
Liebe eventually quit the show, despite Perry urging her to stay on.
Afterward, Oliver Steele, another Idol contestant, defended Perry against bullying claims.
"Katy is not a bully, nor does she shame people," Steele wrote on Instagram. "... Katy has an incredible ability to not just tell what emotional state you’re in, but to be able to tell what’s holding you back. I love all the judges, but Katy always seemed to be able to look into my soul and tell exactly what was troubling me, or what it was I was struggling with."
"It's one thing to teach someone to believe in their ability, which the judges are fabulous at. Katy reminded me to believe in who I am as an artist," he added. "She challenged me to push myself, to take on challenges that made me uncomfortable. I'm a better musician and artist after Katy Perry pushed me to believe in my potential, and to exceed my limitations."