mtvU: Defense Secretary is a Rock Star

Music channel selects Robert Gates as its man of the year.

ByABC News
December 23, 2010, 1:10 PM

December 23, 2010 -- What's wrong with this picture?

Time Magazine selects Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as its "Man of the Year" and music channel mtvU selects Defense Secretary Robert Gates as its "Man of the Year."


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.