Finalists of the 2017 Miss America Pageant fielded several questions Sunday night during the question and answer segment of the competition that touched on the presidential election, including one on liberal media bias.
R&B singer Ciara asked Miss Maryland Hannah Brewer, “Journalists are calling out Matt Lauer for aggressively grilling Hillary Clinton while letting Donald Trump slide. Others are declaring a liberal media bias. How would you grade the media on their election coverage?”
“I think it’s been very equal to both parties,” Brewer said. “I think both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have received a lot of criticism for the way that they’re going about this campaign, and I think it’s absolutely ridiculous. I think that we need to support both of these people. They’re trying to make our country a better place, and I support them both.”
Judges also peppered contestants with questions on their impression of both GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, as well as the sexual harassment suit filed against Fox News’ Roger Ailes, NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s stance on the national anthem, and whether the country has “an immigration problem.”
Laura Morano, who stars on the Disney Channel show “Austin & Ally,” asked Miss New York Camille Sims, “Donald K. Trump. What do you think of him? You have 20 seconds, go.”
“I think that he’s a great reminder of how our country needs to come together,” Sims said. “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 we come together, represent what it means to be American, which is celebrating all people from all backgrounds – whether you’re an immigrant or Native American or an African-American or an Asian American.”
Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas asked Miss Arkansas Savvy Shields, who was later crowned the winner, “Hillary Rodham Clinton. What do you think?”
“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,” Shields said.
“Unfortunately, the media does love to sensationalize everything, and it’s hard to tell what is truth and what is truly scandal. I think going back to what my previous contestant said, both of these contestants have done a great job, or both of these candidates have done a great job in competing, but they also need to a watch what they’re doing,” she added.
The very first Q&A question of the night went to Miss South Carolina Rachel Wyatt. Former Miss America Sharlene Wells Hawks asked her, “The immigration debate rages on. Building a wall along the Mexico border, establishing sanctuary cities, deporting 11 million undocumented people. So you believe our country has an immigration problem?”
“We certainly do, and I myself am a quarter Japanese,” Wyatt said. “My great grandfather is an immigrant, and I think that America really is a nation built on immigrants, and so this is an issue that we have to come to a resolution on and be welcoming to others who come into this nation of freedom.”
Sarah Foster, star of the VH1 series “Barely Famous” and daughter of music producer David Foster, asked Miss Mississippi Laura Lee Lewis about the multi-million dollar settlement former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson received for her sexual harassment suit against Roger Ailes.
“Miss America 1989 Gretchen Carlson just accepted a $20 million settlement from Fox News for her sexual harassment suit against Roger Ailes. Fox paid. Ailes walked. What message does this send?” Foster asked.
“This sends a message that we have so much further to go with equality in the work force. Women are just as equal as men in the workforce, and I think it’s 2016 guys. We’ve got to focus on this and have equality in the workforce, and when we start focusing on that, it’s going to be great,” Lewis responded.
Country singer Cole Swindell asked Miss Texas Caroline Carruthers what the next president can do to protect the U.S. from terrorism.
“This is the 15th anniversary of 9/11. What is one thing that the new president can do to protect us?” he asked.
“Yes, 15 years ago today, we were attacked, and it’s very unfortunate, but one thing that our new president needs to realize is that one thing about being strong with this country is learning when and where to be cautious, and I believe that if our new president understands that and learns that, then we will be in a better place, and we’ll be much safer as a nation,” Carruthers said.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban asked Miss Washington Alicia Cooper about the controversy surrounding 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, saying the NFL player “has ignited a national debate by refusing to stand for the National Anthem in protest of racial inequality and police brutality.”
“Do you sit with him or stand against him?” Cuban asked.
“The first thing I want to say is we need to focus on how important the Black Lives Matter issue is. All lives matter in this situation,” Cooper said. “I don’t necessarily support the fact that he sat out, but I do respect that he took a knee and that people are joining in, because we need to focus on the resolution to this problem, and we need to come together as a nation to have everyone feel equal in our society.”