When Dancing With the Stars 2013 announced its casting, fans around the world applauded Valerie Harper, the former Mary Tyler Moore star who was recently diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. However, there were a few naysayers who accused the hit dancing competition of exploiting her to boost ratings.

After some of the fiercest backlash — including Irish Central claiming it was a “pathetic” charade and “circus animal show” — Valerie’s pro partner Tristan MacManus took the high road and fought back with cold hard facts.

“Valerie has a message and it’s not just for sick people, it’s for everybody. You only get one life, so live it. If you don't like it, change it and if you do like it always strive to make it better,” he told Fox News. “If I want to be a winner, I will not refuse a 'person' and 'human being' from telling their story.”

In fact, he even brought up the fact that Irish Central’s mentality is completely off — especially since Tristan himself is Irish. “That is what being Irish is all about, my friend: standing up for the small guy and never giving up,” he explained. “I won’t only join in this circus. I’ll be the f—ing ringmaster.”

In addition to those comments, he also explained that Valerie couldn’t be a pawn in DWTS’ hypothetical game, as she turned them down many times before. He notes that she could have jeopardized her “star” status by not being good at dancing, but it’s not about “kick-starting a career” on the show.

Tristan explains, “She didn't even want to do the show at first but she was convinced by her husband, a great man, who reminded her that people need this — not so much to see someone ill on DWTS, but someone who has the profile to be relevant and show that you don't go to the funeral until you’re dead.”

Do you think Dancing With the Stars is exploiting Valerie, or do you agree with Tristan? Sound off below.

Source: Fox News

Alyse Whitney is Assistant Editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.