Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wed Post #2: 2013 Person of the Year - Time Magazine caves again

Time magazine's tradition of selecting a "Man of the Year" began in 1927, with Time editors contemplating newsworthy stories possible during a slow news week. The idea was also an attempt to remedy the editorial embarrassment earlier that year of not having aviator Charles Lindbergh on its cover following his historic trans-Atlantic flight. 

By the end of the year, it was decided that a cover story featuring Lindbergh as the Man of the Year would serve both purposes.

The guideline for choosing a person to profile has supposedly been the person (or group) who, for better or worse, had the biggest effect on the news that year.

Since 1927 individual people, classes of people, the computer ("Machine of the Year" in 1982), and "Endangered Earth" ("Planet of the Year" in 1988) have all been selected for the special year-end issue. 

Despite the magazine's frequent statements to the contrary, the designation is often regarded as an honor, and spoken of as an award or prize, simply based on many previous selections of admirable people. However Time magazine points out controversial figures such as Adolf Hitler (1938), Joseph Stalin (1939 and 1942), Nikita Khrushchev (1957) and Ayatollah Khomeini (1979) have also been granted the title for their impacts.

In 1999, the title was changed to Person of the Year. However, the only women to specifically win the renamed recognition have been "The Whistleblowers" (Cynthia Cooper, Coleen Rowley and Sherron Watkins, in 2002) and Melinda Gates (jointly with Bill Gates and Bono, in 2005).  Before that, four women were granted the title as individuals, as "Woman of the Year" – Wallis Simpson (1936), Soong May-ling (1937), Queen Elizabeth II (1952) and Corazon Aquino (1986). 

Time's choice for Person of the Year became highly politicized in 1979. As a result of the public backlash it received from the United States for naming the Ayatollah Khomeini Man of the Year in 1979, Time has shied away from using figures that are controversial in the United States. 

Time's Person of the Year 2001, immediately following the September 11, 2001 attacks, was New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani, although the stated rules of selection, the individual or group of individuals who have had the biggest effect on the year's news, made Osama bin Laden a more likely choice. 

The issue that declared Giuliani the Person of the Year included an article that mentioned Time's earlier decision to elect the Ayatollah Khomeini.  The article also discussed the 1999 rejection of Hitler as "Person of the Century." In that article Time seemed to imply that Osama bin Laden was a stronger candidate than Giuliani,  just as Adolf Hitler was a stronger candidate than Albert Einstein.

Yet despite logical arguments to the contrary, both Bin Laden Hitler were not selected.

(The December 31, 1999 issue named Albert Einstein the "Person of the Century". Franklin D. Roosevelt and Mahatma Gandhi were chosen as runners-up). 

Regrettably, since the 1979 backlash over choosing Ayatollah Khomeini, Time Magazine appears to regularly cave-in to political pressure when making their 'Person of the Year' selections.

And given the intense US government pressure on both foreign governments and the media about treating Edward Snowden as a criminal and a traitor, it comes as no surprise which way Time has gone for their 2013 selection.

This year Time has chosen Pope Francis.

Just like in 2001, Time has let us down. There is no doubt who really had the biggest effect on the year's news… and that's Edward J. Snowden.

And no amount of whitewashing will change that.


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  1. The Pope seems like a nice enough fellow, possibly even a game-changer for the Church. However, there's no way Snowden is not the newsmaker/lightning-rod/person of the Year...

    I didn't use to think that way, either. At first I thought Greenwald was a self-promoting nut on some kind of wacky personal mission ...and Snowden just some kind of misguided nerd.

    Not any more....not after all these revelations of unaccountable Government Agencies spying on their own citizens on behalf of corporate interests, the Canadian Gov't allowing a Foreign Agency to spy on our friends during an International Conference... just amazing stuff.

  2. In less than 12 months, the new pope has revitalized an organization that consists of more than one third the population of the planet. And I'm not even Catholic.

    In my opinion, Snowden is on his way to being the next James Bond villain: because of a dispute with his employer, he stole information from the organization that he worked for, and comprised any number of legitimate security operations, in addition to the revelations about data collection. Which while unconstitutional and distasteful, affected the daily lives of most honest citizens exactly zero.

  3. Catholics are 33% of the World's Population...? Try 17.5%.....

    I got that info straight from the CIA....they should know.

  4. Uh-oh...

    NSA bulk collection of phone records violates Constitution, judge rules:

    Frederic J. Frommer
    Washington — The Associated Press

    Published Monday, Dec. 16 2013, 3:22 PM EST

    A federal judge ruled Monday that the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of phone records violates the U.S. Constitution’s ban on unreasonable searches, but put his decision on hold pending a near-certain government appeal.

    U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon granted a preliminary injunction sought by plaintiffs Larry Klayman and Charles Strange, concluding they were likely to prevail in their constitutional challenge.

    Leon, an appointee of former Republican president George W. Bush, ruled Monday that the two men are likely to be able to show that their privacy interests outweigh the government’s interest in collecting the data. Leon says that means that massive collection program is an unreasonable search under the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment.

    The collection program was disclosed by former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden, provoking a heated debate over civil liberties. The Obama administration has defended the program as a crucial tool against terrorism.

    But in his a 68-page, heavily footnoted opinion, Leon concluded that the government did not cite a single instance in which the program “actually stopped an imminent terrorist attack.”