by Tom Blumer
There was a time, so to speak, and it wasn’t that long ago, when there was much anticipation and a great deal of debate over who might be named and who should be named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. This year, the relative disinterest is stunning. And why not? The publication’s selection of Barack Obama, though arguably correct, set a new and embarrassing low in utterly vacuous justification.
A half-century ago, Time was a highly respected weekly newsmagazine which, though it clearly tilted to the left, was known for its strong journalism and institutional integrity. Those days are long gone.
The magazine reports circulation of roughly 3.4 million, basically flat since 2007 but about 18 percent below where it spent the 15 previous years. Meanwhile, the U.S. population has grown by over 20 percent. The level-off of the past five years isn’t due to anything Time has done, but is instead a by-product of the self-immolation seen at Newsweek, its principal competitor. Things are so bad at Newsweek that its owners recently decided to terminate the print edition when 2012 ends.
Time claims “readership” 20 million. Sure. We’re really supposed to believe each copy of the magazine is read by an average of six people. I certainly don’t. The better indication of the weekly yawns the magazine induces in the public is its newsstand sales, which during the second half of 2010 amounted to a paltry 79,000. Each issue is typically so thin you wonder why anyone bothers to publish it, let alone read it.
Those who think that Time might be making up for lost circulation and ad revenue on the web should know that for all its supposedly well-crafted and surely costly content, its total web traffic is only about half that of the usually one-page Drudge Report. Perhaps that explains why Drudge hadn’t even taken note of Time’s selection of Obama as of when this column was drafted.
Or it may simply be that Drudge read — more likely, tried and failed to read — any one of the magazine’s tributes to Obama. Michael Scherer’s five-page love letter describing Obama’s supposed accomplishments and second-term ambitions could induce almost anyone to vomit. If that didn’t get to you, Richard Stengel’s pathetic wrap-up to his tribute would: “For finding and forging a new majority, for turning weakness into opportunity and for seeking, amid great adversity, to create a more perfect union, Barack Obama is TIME’s 2012 Person of the Year.” But to get to either Scherer’s or Stengel’s pieces, most readers would have had to get past the 2012 Person of the Year home page, which describes Obama’s great year thusly: “In 2012, he found and forged a new majority, turned weakness into opportunity and sought, amid great adversity, to create a more perfect union.”
In an even slightly tolerable establishment media environment, other journalists would be laughing Time into well-deserved oblivion for trotting out such obvious nonsense about Obama’s desire for a “more perfect union.” But we all know that won’t happen.
Barack Obama showed absolutely no interest in a “more perfect union” during the presidential campaign. Never has an incumbent president premised his electoral success so completely on turning Americans against each other and treating his opponents as agents of evil.
To Obama and his apparatchiks, Mitt Romney wasn’t just a guy who disagreed with the President about how to grow an economy. The former Massachusetts governor and highly successful businessperson, who in fact helped build several highly successful companies while creating thousands of jobs, was really a guy who heartlessly threw workers to the wolves and stood by while their spouses got cancer and died. To serve this and other twisted narratives, Obama and his campaign didn’t merely shade the truth; they lied so shamelessly and so often that it became literally impossible to keep up with the accumulated mendacity. That, and not the drivel about a “more perfect union,” is why one could argue that Obama really was 2012′s Person of the Year.
Obama and his campaign’s assertions and tactics never would have succeeded without a pliant press firmly in their corner. To name just three of the most obvious examples of journalistic malfeasance:
• They minimized the frightening build-up of trillions of dollars in debt our children, grandchildren, and generations yet unborn will have to repay.
• They ignored the horrors of Operation Fast and Furious and the negligence which led to the death of America’s ambassador and three others in Benghazi.
If Obama is Person of the Year, it’s only logical, based on their conduct, that the press should receive a related award as Enablers of the Year.
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