Was 2018's ‘Time Person Award’ a Jab at Donald Trump? BY ELIZABETH BRATTON

January 8 2018

In 2016, Trump won the ‘Time Person of the Year Award.’ Two years later, is the magazine taking a dig at him?

2018's winners of the Time Person Award were the ‘Guardians of the Truth.’ These guardians consist of four individual journalists: Jamal Khashoggi, Maria Ressa, Wa Lone, and Kyaw Soe Oo. The award also honored the staff of the Capital Gazette in Maryland, who, despite the murder of five of their colleagues, worked tirelessly in a car park to ensure that the paper would still be published the following day. Time Magazine stated that ‘accuracy, fairness and professionalism’ make up the ‘pillars of journalism’, and it is believed that these guardians fulfilled these traits in the face of ‘manipulation and abuse of truth.’

Meanwhile, for the second year in a row, Donald Trump missed out on that top spot. Furthermore, it’s no secret that Donald Trump, who has called journalists the ‘enemy of the people’ and insulted reporters at press conferences, has issues with what he proclaims to be the ‘crooked media’.

And yet, it’s journalists who have put the president in second place this time around. So was this irony intentional, or are we looking to draw a correlation that doesn’t exist? It is undeniable that the magazine wants to highlight the importance of honesty and clarity, but it still raises questions as to whether a direct parallel can be drawn between the guardians’ victory and Trump’s mere shortlisting.

According to some pf the editors at CNN, the answer is a resounding yes. When analyzing the win, Chris Cillizza, an editor at the news outlet, wrote, ‘the President looms over the choice as a silent presence - a symbolic stand-in for the "war on truth" that Time sees its "guardians" fighting.’

However, the people at Fox News seem to believe the opposite to be true. A Fox News program called ‘The Five’ discuss the outcome of the magazine’s award annually, and, during this year’s discussion, Greg Gutfeld (a member of the show since 2011) said, ‘it’s their way of doing Trump without doing Trump’. Gutfeld went on to explain that Trump has ‘reinvigorated media’, which is a belief clearly contrary to that of CNN’s Chris Cillizza, who believes that the President has, in fact, done nothing but gagged the media. Meanwhile, Jesse Watters, another presenter on the show, stated that the award was effectively the magazine ‘giving [to the award] to themselves.’

This would not be the first time Time magazine has criticized the President. In fact, they’ve released quite a few covers that shine a negative light on him. One notable cover published in June depicts Mr. Trump looking down at a sobbing migrant child with the caption "Welcome to America. Then, in August, he made the front cover again in an illustration that showed him submerged in water. This one was captioned ‘In Deep’.

While it's interesting to speculate, whether or not the magazine was sending a subliminal message does not discredit the great journalists who received the award. Above all, the Person of the Year is chosen based on who has changed the world, and the contributions of these journalists are nothing short of deserving for that title. Their determination to reveal the truth has led to groundbreaking discoveries that have impacted countless countries. In this day and age, where false information runs rampant, it is becoming increasingly vital that we are shown the truth. These journalists spent their careers not only searching for the truths we wanted to see, but the truths we needed to see.

This year, at least 53 journalists have been murdered and retaliation killing rates have nearly doubled, according to a report by the Committee to Protect Journalists. Furthermore, the impunity these murderers often receive is due in part to a lack of action from governments around the world. It is possible that the magazine was not only condemning Donald Trump, but leaders everywhere.

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Elizabeth B


Illustration by Tim O'Brien for TIME TIME magazine photo illustration Twitter

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