Culture

Miss America Judges Try to Get Political, Contestants Don't Take the Bait

Miss Arkansa Savvy Shields waves to crowd after being named new the Miss America 2017, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016, in Atlantic City, N.J. (AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)

Reporters often know the best way to get extra clicks: Ask a pointed political question of their subject.

Does it matter if the person being interviewed is a head of state or an actor in a popular TV show? Likely not.

Stars are more than game these days to sound off on the latest political headlines. So is just about everyone else, apparently.

Ask a Kardashian. Any Kardashian.

That must have been on the minds of Team Miss America over the weekend. The annual event took a decidedly political turn Sunday night. Only the beautiful contestants weren’t eager to serve up any gossip between runway walks.

Eventual winner Savvy Shields dutifully appeared in a swimsuit and performed a jazz dance routine as her talent. Shields’ other talent? Ducking hot-button questions.

Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas asked Shields her thoughts on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton. Shields answered:

If you’re trying to be leader of the free world, everything you say and do matters, and all of your actions are held to a higher standard. And unfortunately, the media does love to sensationalize everything, and it’s hard to tell what is truth and what is truly scandal … both of these candidates have done a great job in competing…

Just try grabbing clicks with that answer.

Shields may have emerged victorious Sunday, but she wasn’t alone in her bipartisan responses. Here’s how Miss New York, Camille Sims, answered a similar, open-ended query about Donald Trump:

I think that he’s a bright reminder of how our country needs to come together. If you don’t agree with his message, then it’s time to decide where you stand in this debate. As Americans, we need to make sure that we come together, represent what it means to be American — which is celebrating all people from all backgrounds whether you’re an immigrant or a Native American or an African-American or an Asian-American.

That’s not how this is supposed to work, is it?

Just imagine if one, just one, of the contestants teed off against Clinton or Trump. That would have generated headlines for the event. Social media might have lit up with responses, pro and con.

Demands for an apology might have followed.

Instead, the focus remains on the contestants, their poise and the annual competition. That should be the focus of a Miss America pageant. In today’s day and age, that isn’t quite enough.

Here’s predicting next year’s pageant will stick to traditional queries.