The Atlantic

Donald Trump’s Obsession With Time Magazine Makes Almost Too Much Sense

The now-fading publication evokes a distinct 20th-century kind of wealth and influence—like the Plaza Hotel and Elaine’s on the Upper East Side.
Source: Mike Blake / Reuters

If you had to pick the year Time magazine’s “person of the year” jumped the shark, you’d probably start with 2006. That was when Time looked at the rise of open-publishing platforms like Wikipedia, YouTube, and Facebook, and decided the most influential person was the collective “you.” It was cheesy, trite, and had the exact effect Time wanted: everybody talked about it.

’s annual “person of the year” designation has always been a gimmick, going all the way back to . was once a scrappy upstart, but for decades it was a very serious must-read magazine. Now that the heyday of newsmagazines has receded, the spectrum of people who have ever held a physical copy of in their handshas shriveled. Yet the “person of the year” still creates a residual media buzz—attention that, as my colleague David Graham , really isn’t justified. “Year-end wrap-ups,” he wrote, “simply aren’t news.”

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