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The Morning Call Looks at Time's Person of the Year and wonders

As you may have heard, late last week, Time magazine announced its “Person of the Year,” and it’s actually two persons, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, the president- and vice-president-elect, respectively.  For some reason or another, this choice made a whole bunch of people unhappy.

Some of Time’s critics were unhappy that the magazine featured both Biden and Harris.  Previous presidents-elect, including Barack Obama, got the title and the magazine-cover to themselves.  Why should Biden have to share it?  Others were unhappy that the honorific went to politicians, rather than the small business owners who suffered so much this year, at the hands of the mob and various governments.  Some argued that the award should, by all rights, have gone to President Trump, given his clear impact on the Middle East.  And, of course, still others – including Joe Concha, a media and politics columnist for The Hill – insisted that Time’s decision was “an insult to health care workers.”  Concha wrote:

Time giving President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris its 2020 Person of the Year award is patently laughable in its partisanship.

Why did Time do it? Because it was the politically correct thing to do, and it's what Time’s readers wanted from a comfort food perspective, all while largely ignoring the true heroes of 2020: health care workers on the front lines of COVID-19. 

Thousands of doctors, nurses, physician assistants, techs, administrators, ambulance drivers, EMTs, firefighters, right down to those keeping medical facilities as clean as possible, have died since this unprecedented, horrific pandemic began. But Time went with Biden and Harris, who in any other year would be the default choice given the election — but this isn't any other year.

We get it.  And we agree that there are a great many truly wonderful and important people who were overlooked in favor of Biden and Harris.  But then, that’s the case EVERY year, especially every year Time picks a political figure.  Politicians are…well…“parasites” might be too strong a word.  Or…maybe it’s not.  Depends on our mood and the politician, we suppose.

That said, it’s still worth examining why Time picked Biden and Harris and what it means.

As best we can tell, there are two reasons why the magazine did what it did, one noble and perfectly legitimate and the other somewhat less noble but still perfectly legit.

Whether anyone on the Right will admit it or not, the simple truth of the matter is that Kamala Harris is important.  Joe Biden?   Not so much.  But Harris is.  Her election – albeit as the secondary and far less relevant member of the ticket – is an enormous milestone in American history.  She will become the first woman vice president, the first African-American vice president, and the first Indian-American vice president.  Each of these is incredibly significant in and of itself.  And to have them all embodied in one person is more significant still.  She more than deserves the designation “Person (or co-person, as the case may be) of the Year.”

Additionally, given Biden’s age and his clear cognitive decline, there is every reason to believe that Harris will also be the first woman president, as well as the first Indian-American (and Asian-American) president.  That would also make her just the second African-American president and the second African-American out of the last four total.  For a country that is tearing itself apart over race, this is quite remarkable and encouraging.  In the last decade-plus, 50% of the presidents will have come from a racial minority group that makes up only 12% of the total population.

Neither we nor you (to the best of our knowledge) are political identitarians, but there’s no sense in trying to pretend that Harris and her identity categorizations don’t matter.  They do.  She does.  The only reason that Time should regret giving the cover and the title to Kamala Harris is the fact that they felt it necessary to make her share those accolades with a white cis-male.

The second reason that Time ignored all the other deserving persons and decided to give its award to the Democratic presidential ticket is, in our opinion, just as obvious as the Kamala Harris story but apparently less well known.  It actually kinda surprises us how many conservatives either don’t know this or don’t think it matters, but Time is no longer a news magazine, (if that is, indeed, what it was before).  Rather, Time today is a political propaganda machine owned by a skilled and shameless propagandist.

Several years ago – right after Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney to win his second term – we and several others on the cultural Right suggested to conservative millionaires and billionaires that they were wasting their money.  If they really wanted to be successful; if they really wanted to “fix” the country or keep it from getting more broken; if they really wanted people whose values they share to get elected to high federal office, then they needed, we said, to quit giving their money to politicians and political consultants and start using that money to invest in the institutions of cultural transmission.  Specifically, we encouraged them to buy media outlets and publishers and, to a lesser extent, to buy production companies and fund films and other arts.

For the most part, they completely ignored us.  Sheldon Adelson bought the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the only “major” newspaper in the country to endorse Donald Trump in 2016.  Sinclair Broadcast Group continued to expand when it was permitted to do so.  And…well…that’s about it.  It’s true that conservatives own a considerable number of important and venerable media properties, but with a few notable exceptions, all of these are confined to the conservative ghetto.  We told conservative donors that they needed to break out of the ghetto and 9invest in the mainstream.  And they didn’t.

Meanwhile, Laurene Powell Jobs and her Emerson Collective bought The Atlantic.  The world’s richest man picked himself up a plaything called The Washington Post.  Somebody bought Matt Drudge (or at least his web site).  And modern-day robber-baron and devotee of Klaus Schwab, Marc Benioff, bought Time.

We’ll spare you another long rant about Benioff – especially since we recounted our case against him just last week – but it should suffice to say that the guy is very much the sort of person who would buy a hugely respected magazine specifically to turn it into his personal hype-machine.  Which is what he’s done.

When Adelson bought the Review-Journal, the paper’s editor, Mike Hengel, resigned, rather than work for a conservative, and so did most of the rest of the editorial staff and several reporters.  No one quit when Benioff bought Time.  In fact, Benioff – like Powell Jobs and Bezos before him – had trouble fighting off the applicants for his expanded operation.  He hired his own crew of young reporters and 22 new editors – you know…the people who decide things like who will be named “Person of the Year.”  Or to put it another way: Time made Biden and Harris its person of the year because that’s what Marc Benioff wanted – either directly or indirectly, through the people he hired to be his surrogates.

And you know what?  That’s perfectly fine by us.  To be honest, we think it’s great.  As we said, we wish conservatives would follow suit.

As we have noted countless times in our flagship publication Politics, Et Cetera, we are not bothered by the owners of media companies exerting their influence on the direction and content of those companies.  We are not bothered by journalists who are biased and opinionated and pursue partisan agendas through their reporting.

What bothers us is the pretense on the part of journalists who are biased and opinionated and who do pursue partisan agendas through their reporting that they are objective and professional and truly noble.  They’re not.  And if they and their professors in J-School would drop the act and admit that they’re all hacks, just like many of the conservative journalists they criticize, then we’d have no reason to care about any of them.

But they don’t do that.  They continue to pretend that they’re “trusted professionals” with an honorable and dignified professional code, just like doctors and lawyers.

Aaaand,..again, we’re wandering off-topic.

Anyway, our point is this:  Conservatives.  Don’t resent the leftist billionaires who have decided to go after the culture directly.  Don’t hate them because they had the foresight to buy companies that would allow them to take their own partisan favorites and make them “Person of the Year.”  Don’t be mad at them for doing what you should be doing.  EMULATE them.  If you really want to change your life or the country or your state or whatever, buy a local newspaper.  And no, we don’t mean buy it at the CVS for a buck-and-a-quarter.  Buy the whole damn thing.  And then run it to reflect your values.

Just like Marc Benioff does.


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