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Tags: Time magazine

Pope Francis: A Predicted, Easily Justifiable Pick for Time’s Man of the Year



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This morning, Time magazine announced that Pope Francis is its Man of the Year for 2013. Not to brag, but yesterday’s Morning Jolt accurately predicted the choice.

Note Senator Ted Cruz — labeled ”The Barnburner” — was among their five finalists, along with Edward Snowden, Bashir Assad, and Edith Windsor.

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?

The list:

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:

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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.

Tags: Time magazine , Pope Francis

An ‘Un’-impressive Poll Winner for Person of the Year



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From the final Morning Jolt of the week:

For Time’s Newsmaker of the Year, You Can’t Pick This ‘Un’

Time informs us:

Kim Jong Un is having a good year. After taking over the leadership of North Korea from his late father Kim Jong Il, at the end of 2011, he’s solidified his control over the country, appeared on TIME’s cover and he was even named ‘Sexiest Man Alive.’  (OK, that honor was actually bestowed as a spoof in the satirical newspaper, The Onion, but a Chinese news service mistook the Onion piece for real news and the story went global.)

Now, he’s gotten the most votes in TIME’s completely unscientific reader Person of the Year Poll with 5.6 million votes. Not bad for a man who didn’t make an official public appearance until 2010.

This doesn’t mean Kim is TIME’s Person of the Year. That choice is made by the editors of TIME and will be revealed Dec. 19 on the Today show.

The Time “Person of the Year” is something of an obsession of mine; it’s supposedly one of our most interesting and useful markers of which figure most shaped the news.

It’s been a who’s who of the 20th Century, for good and for ill — Mahatma Gandhi, Franklin Roosevelt, Chiang Kai-shek, Hitler, Stalin, Eisenhower, Truman, Queen Elizabeth, Churchill, Martin Luther King, Ronald Reagan, Lech Walesa . . .

But in a serious dilution of the Time magazine brand and the prestige and prominence of the title, recent years have seen a trend of odd picks. As I wrote a few years back, this is perhaps driven by a desire for newsstand sales, perhaps driven by political correctness, perhaps by a reluctance to acknowledge picks that are perceived as conservative.

I went through recent picks and suggested more plausible options by the magazine’s original criteria (most influence on the news, for good or for ill):

Time’s picks:

2001: Rudy Giuliani

2002: The Whistleblowers (WorldCom, FBI, Enron)

2003: The American Soldier

2004: George W. Bush

2005: The Good Samaritans (Bono, Bill & Melinda Gates)

2006: You

2007: Vladimir Putin

2008: Barack Obama

2009: Ben Bernanke

2010: Mark Zuckerberg

For contrast, here are my suggestions for which figure or figures had the most influence each year:

2001: Osama bin Laden

2002: Dick Cheney (it was in the post-9/11 era his influence was clearest)

2003: Saddam Hussein (from rule to war to capture, his story was the story of the year)

2004: George W. Bush

2005: Danish Cartoonists

2006: Nancy Pelosi (she was the face of the broad backlash against Bush)

2007: Gen. David Petraeus (for masterminding the Iraq surge)

2008: Barack Obama/Ben Bernanke

2009: Barack Obama/Neda, the Slain Iranian Protester

2010: The Tea Partier

I’m sure some will quibble here and there. But looking back, the Whistleblowers look minor in lasting influence; the American Soldier could be nominated any year; Bono and the Gateses are commendable but could be picked any year; Putin is powerful but could be picked any year; Bernanke was a year late; and “You” just looks silly.

This year it has to be Obama, right? Would anyone argue that there was a figure on the national or world stage who had as much influence over events as the president?

Tags: Barack Obama , Kim Jong Un , Time magazine

Twitter Inventors Look Like Lock for Time’s Persons of the Year in 2012



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In their lamest pick since “YOU,” Time picks Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as its Man of the Year.

Some will rejoice that it’s not Julian Assange. But the pick suggests the magazine was flailing around, looking for a pick that didn’t represent the broad backlash against President Obama and his administration that was reflected in the Tea Party movement and the big GOP gains in the midterm elections. In the end, the pick, which looks like an ad for Columbia Pictures, seems at least two years out of date and oddly disconnected from larger issues of national and international politics and matters of war and peace.

As many are noting this morning, this continues a trend of odd picks, perhaps driven by a desire for newsstand sales, perhaps driven by political correctness, perhaps by a reluctance to acknowledge picks that are perceived as conservative.

Time’s picks:

2001: Rudy Giuliani

2002: The Whistleblowers (WorldCom, FBI, Enron)

2003: The American Soldier

2004: George W. Bush

2005: The Good Samaritans (Bono, Bill & Melinda Gates)

2006: You

2007: Vladimir Putin

2008: Barack Obama

2009: Ben Bernanke

2010: Mark Zuckerberg

For contrast, here are my suggestions for which figure or figures had the most influence each year:

2001: Osama bin Laden

2002: Dick Cheney (it was in the post-9/11 era his influence was clearest)

2003: Saddam Hussein (from rule to war to capture, his story was the story of the year)

2004: George W. Bush

2005: Danish Cartoonists

2006: Nancy Pelosi (she was the face of the broad backlash against Bush)

2007: Gen. David Petraeus (for masterminding the Iraq surge)

2008: Barack Obama/Ben Bernanke

2009: Barack Obama/Neda, the Slain Iranian Protester

2010: The Tea Partier

I’m sure some will quibble here and there. But looking back, the Whistleblowers look minor in lasting influence; the American Soldier could be nominated any year; Bono and the Gateses are commendable but could be picked any year; Putin is powerful but could be picked any year; Bernanke was a year late; and “You” just looks silly.

Tags: Time magazine

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