A Most Appropriate Choice …

In 2012, Trump said that Time Magazine had “lost all credibility” because he, Donald Trump, was not included in Time’s “100 Most Influential People”.  Last year, he claimed that Time told him he “probably” would be chosen for “Person of the Year”, but that he opted out because “probably” wasn’t good enough.  Time disputed that claim.  Just last month, when asked by a reporter who he thought would be this year’s “Person of the Year”, he had this to say …

“I can’t imagine anybody else other than Trump. Can you imagine anybody else other than Trump?”

What an egomaniac!  Anyway … I was very pleased to see that Time had better sense, although I understand he was somewhere on their short list.  Instead, Time quite appropriately chose “The Guardians”, four individuals and one group — all journalists — who this year helped expose “the manipulation and the abuse of truth” around the world.

They are the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post contributing columnist who was killed inside Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul in October; the staff of the Capital Gazette newspaper in Maryland; journalist Maria Ressa, the chief executive of the Rappler news website, who has been made a legal target for the outlet’s coverage of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte; and journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who have been jailed in Myanmar for nearly a year for their work exposing the mass killing of Rohingya Muslims.  Each of these people are far more deserving of “Person of the Year” than the madman in the Oval Office.

Trump himself actually helped make the decision, albeit unwittingly, with his attacks on the press.  According to Time …

This is the world of the strong leaders who hate the free press and truth. That world is led, in some ways, by a U.S. President whose embrace of despots and attacks on the press has set a troubling tone.

“I think the biggest problem that we face right now is that the beacon of democracy, the one that stood up for both human rights and press freedom—the United States—now is very confused,” says Ressa, the Rappler editor. “What are the values of the United States?”

The question no longer seems strange, for the same reason a close look at where we get our news no longer sounds like civics-class homework. In normal times, the U.S. news media is so much a part of public life that, like air, it’s almost impossible to make it out. But it has been made conspicuous—by the attacks and routine falsehoods of the President, by social-media behemoths that distribute news but do not produce it and by the emerging reality of what’s at stake.

Efforts to undermine factual truth, and those who honestly seek it out, call into doubt the functioning of democracy. Freedom of speech, after all, was purposefully placed first in the Bill of Rights.

For a certain kind of politician, there is an almost liberating genius to framing independent journalists as the enemy. Stray from the truth, and whoever corrects you can be dismissed as “the other side.” The strategy runs on a dangerous assumption—that we’re not all in this together.

A month after taking office, President Trump sat for an interview with Breitbart, the right-wing online news site that had been run by his then chief strategist, Steve Bannon. “The fake media is the opposition party,” the President declared. “The fake media is the enemy of the American people.”

For taking great risks in pursuit of greater truths, for the imperfect but essential quest for facts that are central to civil discourse, for speaking up and for speaking out, the Guardians—Jamal Khashoggi, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, Maria Ressa and the Capital Gazette of Annapolis, Md.—are TIME’s Person of the Year.

A most appropriate choice.

16 thoughts on “A Most Appropriate Choice …

  1. Fair Justice on that one.

    You know Jill, every day the US is losing credibility on the world stage.

    At the COP24 in Katowice at an international press conference, the US representative began…

    “It is clear that energy innovation and fossil fuels will continue to…”

    He didn’t get much further than that. Someone called out “Bullshit!” And the audience laughed… And kept laughing so that his speech could not be heard. Then the chanting started, and everyone in the press stood up chanting “Stand Up, Stand Up… And Keep it in the ground.” Then replaced it with repetitive “Shame on You! ”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, we lost our credibility on the world stage a year or more ago, I believe, with the first of Trump’s trips abroad. Our nation’s refusal to take seriously the threat of climate change, our arrogance at NATO, our refusal to renew the Iran nuclear deal, our “leader’s” close association of authoritarian rulers while he shuns our allies, his imposition of unnecessary tariffs and in general his isolationist ways, his “America First” policy … all have served to make us the pariah of the Western world.

      Thank you for the video link and telling me about this part of the COP24, for it certainly wasn’t in the news that I’ve seen so far. I am working on a piece about it … many thanks for bringing it to my attention. The speaker got exactly what he deserved!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Jill,

    The Guardians of the truth was a perfect selection by Time for the 2018 Peoples of the year. The truth is under attack around the world. The US used to be proud to brag about our democracy owing its success in large part to “freedom of the press.” Now President Trump doesn’t give a hoot that a US resident and Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was ordered to be killed by Saudi Arabia for daring to be constructively critical about the actions of its Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

    It’s a sad day when the president along with his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo continue to cover for the crown prince despite the CIA reporting that he definitely ordered the murderer.

    Hugs, Gronda

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree that it was the perfect selection, and the antithesis of Trump’s claim that the press is the ‘enemy of the people’. Obviously, the press are working a lot harder to bring us the truth than Trump, who doesn’t even know the meaning of the word ‘truth’.

      You’re quite right about Trump & Pompeo’s continued support of MbS, but I was pleased to see the Senate standing against Trump a bit on this. Perhaps they do have small consciences hidden somewhere after all?

      Hugs!!!

      Like

  3. If my memory serves me well, I read Trump’s remark about the Time’s Person of the Year coveted cover by this egotistical idiot in The Washington Post last month. Trump was on the cover in 2016 while still president-elect, does he expect this as his annual reward? When I was in high school, I thought that the Person of the Year was only awarded to those with a positive influence on the world, John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. come to mind. But not so, as many less than savory characters have appeared, Putin being one. I also found it odd that prior to 1999, the title was Man of the Year, although women like Wallis Simpson and Queen Elizabeth had graced the cover. I think that this year’s choices are excellent and timely. The statement from Time is bold and courageous…Bravo! Thank-you!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jill, this is well said to celebrate and esteem the work of journalists and to include the US President with a group of despots that disdain the free press. The truth hurts which is why these tyrants want to squelch it. Keith

    Liked by 2 people

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