MTV wants ‘light’ questions for Obama at today’s youth townhall. Why?

At 4pm ET today, President Obama is participating in a “youth town hall” with MTV, CMT and BET. Last week I submitted my name to be a participant and was called back for the second round of “casting” (their word, not mine) with a representative from one of the networks.

After asking what topics I was personally interested in, they asked what question I’d want to ask President Obama if I were in a room with him. I gave a sample question to give them a sense of where I’d go, but not anything specific (something about the role that federal policy plays in preventing bullying in light of the recent attention to suicide). The next question was: What lighter question would I ask the President — something related to pop culture perhaps. I hadn’t given any thought to this because, really, what moron blows this opportunity by asking the President “Mac or PC?” I gave them some light question and it was the one note that was made during the interview. I was not invited to attend.

It drives me crazy that in a time when we face such serious issues, networks are trying to figure out a way to include levity in a conversation with the President of the United States. No one cares if a leader wears boxers or briefs. What we do care about is how any leader can rationalize opposition to marriage equality, or promise to repeal DOMA and DADT without actually pursuing it, and then actually defending it when they could let it die at the hands of the courts. The laws that stand now and declare LGBT Americans less than equal set the tone in our society that results in a culture where people think it’s fine to see LGBT Americans as somehow “less.”  This is part of what leads to bullying, isolation, and in some tragic cases, even suicide.

We all have our own issues that we want answered, but no one — absolutely no one — cares if he watches “Glee.”


Born and raised in Maine, Nick Seaver moved to DC to study political communication in 2003. He began writing extensively on LGBT rights during the first ballot initiative in Maine that overturned marriage equality. He writes about a variety of issues, ranging from marriage to issues facing LGBT youth. Follow him on Twitter at @NDSeaver.

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