So, Who Had the Biggest Impact on the News of 2013?
Dick Cheney says he’s left speechless by Time’s list of “Person of the Year” finalists. It’s not that bad, but we’re left with the usual question: Is Time’s criterion A) actual impact on the news of the year, for good or for ill, B) which figure will drive newsstand sales, or C) who liberals think deserves the honor this year?
Bashar Assad, president of Syria
Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder
Ted Cruz, Texas senator
Miley Cyrus, singer
Pope Francis, leader of the Catholic Church
Barack Obama, president of the United States
Hassan Rouhani, president of Iran
Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services
Edward Snowden, N.S.A. leaker
Edith Windsor, gay-rights activist
Pretty tough to find somebody who influenced the news for ill more than the guy who launched a sarin gas attack this summer. But a magazine that didn’t make Osama bin Laden their newsmaker of the year in 2001 isn’t going to pick Assad this year. The magazine that picked Hitler, Stalin, and the Ayatollah Khomeini will probably never pick another evil newsmaker in our lifetime. (Again, the magazine doesn’t, or at least didn’t, intend the title to be an honor or an award. Some years, evil men will have the biggest impact on the world’s events.)
Bezos actually won back in 1999. Picking him again might as well come with a note begging him to buy the magazine.
Cruz may very well be the Republican of the year, but it’s tough to argue that he had the single biggest impact on the news in the past twelve months.
Miley Cyrus is a shock-value pick, thrown in for laughs, howls of outrage, and snarky comments. If Time actually picks her, what will be left for Entertainment Weekly to say?
Pope Francis seems like the most likely pick. He’s indisputably made big news this year, his smiling face on the cover will probably drive newsstand sales, and at least one essay in the magazine would tout his papacy as a huge advance for liberal Catholics.
Some on our side will claim Obama’s inclusion represents some sort of liberal bias, but every year, the president of the United States is one of the five most influential figures in the world.
Rouhani’s an easy top-ten pick, but like Obama’s Nobel Prize, making him Newsmaker of the Year would be based upon potential. He’s only been in office since August, and he and his government interpret our new deal with Tehran a lot differently than John Kerry does.Time and fans of the Obama administration want him to be the next Gorbachev; we’ll see if he becomes anything more than the next Brezhnev.
The catastrophic launch of Obamacare is a huge story, and perhaps Sebelius is the face of it, but . . . let’s face it, fairly or not, we associate another face with this whole debacle:
Miss me yet?
Snowden is probably a narrow underdog to Francis. His impact on the news is indisputable and the revelations about the NSA’s surveillance at home and abroad have had huge political repercussions domestically and abroad. The “is he a hero or a traitor” controversy and the mystery around him would help drive newsstand sales, but ultimately there are still a lot of unanswered questions about Snowden. Would Time be comfortable picking a man who some believe is a Russian spy?
I had to look up Edith Windsor; her lawsuit led to the Supreme Court overturning the Defense of Marriage Act. A checking-the-box selection.