What's wrong with this picture?
Top-selling artists like Eminem, Justin Bieber or Bruno Mars instantly come to mind as the leading candidates for a music channel's man of the year, but in an inspired choice, mtvU has selected Gates as the television network's honoree.
In a press release announcing the selection, the MTV network, geared towards college students, says it chose Gates for being "a role model for public service" who has "firmly established himself as a voice of reason and bi-partisanship."
The network said Gates "tackled big issues -- from fiscal responsibility to gender bias and most recently, "don't ask, don't tell" making bold, yet reasoned choices, leaving politics aside."
Stephen Friedman, General Manager of MTV said "mtvU is proud to honor Secretary Gates because he stood up for what was right, and made historic changes to the system by focusing on the issues at hand rather than partisan rhetoric."
Pentagon spokesman Col. Dave Lapan said mtvU's selection "had been communicated" to Gates yesterday when news came of his selection, but he said he was unaware of any reaction to the news.
Who was the network's selection for mtvU's Woman of the Year? Rapper Nicki Minaj, who became the first female rapper to top the charts since 2003 and has served as a role model in speaking out against bullying and calling for an end to homophobia in hip hop.
According to MTV spokesman Kurt Patat, mtvU staffers compiled a short list of individuals from pop culture, politics and the world of music who "actually pushed for some kind of change." He said the decision to select Gates and Minaj was "pretty easy" given their accomplishments this year. "This is what the college audience is looking at and these are the two people we think stick out who you might want to take to dinner and really talk to," Panat said.
The network's release said "Gates demonstrated to college students that he was focused on the issues, not on the politics." It noted his "principled stand" to repeal the controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy that barred gays from serving openly in the military "and represented the majority of Americans and the vast majority of the college students by making this issue solely about the troops."
The network also cited his leadership in lifting the ban on women serving on submarines, overseeing the surge of 30,000 troops to Afghanistan and his push to trim $100 billion in overhead costs from the Pentagon's budget to make it more efficient. It also highlighted his speech at Duke University that challenged the students of America's elite universities to join the armed forces, "arguing the case for America's best and brightest to serve their country. "
mtvU says, "Gates has been awarded the National Security Medal, the Presidential Citizens Medal and has twice received the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal. Now, in 2010, for consistently focusing on solutions for today so they're not problems for tomorrow, and for rational and reasoned discussion instead of polarizing sound bites -- he can add 'mtvU Man of the Year' to his list of accomplishments."
The network began airing video profiles of Gates and Minaj on its network yesterday. Watch the video profile HERE.