Ryan Seacrest's (search) abrupt dismissal of contestants on Wednesday's live episode of "American Idol" (search) has raised some eyebrows.

Especially jolting was the way in which Melinda Lira, the first contestant booted off the show, nearly went into a state of shock when she got her abrupt marching orders from Seacrest.

"Melinda, you're out," Seacrest barked at the 19-year-old from Hanford, Calif. — who covered her face as the audience sat in stunned and uncomfortable silence.

"I'm shocked," said Lira, who appeared that she might not be able to speak.

"I mean, I didn't get a lot of exposure — I thought in the beginning I should have [gotten exposure]," she said. "People early in the competition, they gain favorites. I just felt it was kind of against me."

Seacrest was equally abrupt with Sarah Mather, the second woman booted off the show.

"Sarah, you are out," he said. Then seemed to apologize for his tone.

"The journey ends for you tonight, darling. Sorry to put you through this," he said.

Passionate "Idol" fans weighed in on the show's message board Thursday — with some expressing anger over the way in which the contestants were axed.

"I felt it was extremely mean, and while I'm sure they were going for the dramatic effect, these are young people with hopes and dreams," wrote one fan.

"To crush them like that was abominable."

Wrote another fan of the way in which Judd Harris, the New York singer also booted off Wednesday's show, was told: " 'Judd, you're out' — you might as well hit that kid with a 2x4. It would have been less painful."

The show's producers declined to answer questions Thursday about the show's suddenly cruel turn.

While "Idol" has always been known for hard knocks and bad news for losing competitors, Wednesday night's harshness seemed to stand out.

Harris said Thursday he didn't think Seacrest was out of bounds.

"I don't know if there would have been a good way to do it," Harris told The Post yesterday. "Whatever it is, it's bad news.