Saturday, December 16, 2006

Pronoun of the year

So, Time Magazine's 2006 Person of the Year is...get ready for

As in, pretty much everybody.

"Yes, you," says the sub-headline, apparently anticipating my reacting with some amount of incredulity (which is pretty much the case). "You control the Information Age. Welcome to your world."

Time's Person of the Year ("Man of the Year," in a less gender-balanced age) is allegedly given to the person most responsible for shaping the news, in that year. By that reasoning, Adolf Hitler was the magazine's pick for 1938.

I think August J. Pollak has a point when he argues here that 2001 was the year Time officially turned the designation into an award--rather than giving it to the undeniably biggest newsmaker of 2001, one Osama bin Laden, they gave it to Rudy Giuliani, because they didn't think Americans were bright enough to get that it wasn't necessarily praise, and they wanted to sell magazines. Which makes 2006 the year they made it not only an award, but a participation award. Everybody gets a trophy!

So, yeah, the world did get more democratic and interactive, this year...and what was the result of that? A historic Democratic party sweep of Congress, with netroots-fueled candidates like Jim Webb, Jon Tester and Sherrod Brown making the difference. And therein lies my point.

In 1994, Republicans swept into control of both houses of Congress, taking 29 House seats for a 14-seat lead in that chamber. The media treated this not only as the biggest story of the year, but as inarguably so, a political shifting of continents. Not only was Time's Person of the Year incoming House Speaker Newt Gingrich, it was difficult to imagine any other choice.

In 2006, Democrats swept into control of both houses of Congress, taking 30 House seats for an 18-seat lead in that chamber. So, surely, this must be at least as big a story, right? An even bigger realignment. Barring some earth-shatteringly enormous event--we're talking 9/11 sized--is there really any excuse for the Person of the Year not being either incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, or DNC Chairman Howard Dean, whose 50-state strategy basically gave the Democrats Congress?

Apparently. Because not only did Time not name the architects of the as-big-as-1994-sweep as Person of the Year, they didn't even mention them in their recap of the year's other big events:

To be sure, there are individuals we could blame for the many painful and disturbing things that happened in 2006. The conflict in Iraq only got bloodier and more entrenched. A vicious skirmish erupted between Israel and Lebanon. A war dragged on in Sudan. A tin-pot dictator in North Korea got the Bomb, and the President of Iran wants to go nuclear too. Meanwhile nobody fixed global warming, and Sony didn't make enough PlayStation3s.

Oh, yeah, and Congress changed hands, in an even bigger way than what we thought was earth-shattering news 12 years ago. But that's not important enough to mention. Anywhere in the article.

What got me especially was their claim that, had they picked a single person for the designation, it would have been Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Really? Why? What did he do other than be a raving bigot and a convenient scapegoat? He doesn't even have any real power.

The bottom line for me is this. When Republicans succeed, they're the leaders of a revolution. When Democrats succeed even more, it's a non-story, a fluke.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: liberal media, my tailfeathers.

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