TIME’s Smear of the Year

Magazine uses 'Person of the Year' issue to repeat tin-eared media attacks on Trump

TIME magazine has made President-Elect Donald Trump its “Person of the Year.”

That was kind of expected. What was a bit of a surprise was how much bile and how many dubious claims TIME poured into its cover story.

It’s common sense to most Americans. It’s racism to TIME.

What Trump backers and many patriotic Americans will likely find most offensive was saying Trump wasn’t the president of the United States. Instead, the cover says he is “President of the Divided States” — as if this election were more divisive than others. Arguably, that’s not a credible claim.

It’s a smear job from start to finish, dripping with the kind of condescending and pompous verbosity TIME and other Time-Warner print products are known for when the magazines write about topics uncomfortable to their blue-state reporters.

Let’s break it down.

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For one, TIME cannot abide Trump’s claim to represent workers.

“And yet I represent the workers of the world,” Trump said as he talked to TIME in his three-story penthouse.

“The late Fidel Castro would probably spit out his cigar if he heard that one — a billionaire who branded excess claiming the slogans of the proletariat,” TIME writes.

Yet it’s not uncommon for populists and even liberals to be very rich. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Franklin D. Roosevelt were rich. Hillary Clinton is likely worth more than $100 million.

Castro too was rich, although he hid it.

But that doesn’t matter. What matters is the results. Trump did not because of California and New York City. He won because of blue-collar workers in Macomb County, Michigan, and vast rural stretches of Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. They believed in his promises.

Anger and Division
More than a year ago, a LifeZette reporter bumped into a well-known conservative thinker near the Capitol. This person used to be a NeverTrumper. This person said Trump could possibly win the GOP nomination because there was a real current of anti-incumbent anger in America from the polling he saw. This was in the fall of 2015.

The Beltway pundits, the mainstream media, and even the Democratic and Republican Establishments didn’t see it coming. They had forgotten the defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in 2014. They were deluding themselves, but the polling was there if you dug through. It was there not because of Trump — but Trump saw and harnessed the powerful current and used it to power his campaign.

But TIME doesn’t understand this.

“Instead of painting a bright vision for a unified future, he magnified the divisions of the present, inspiring new levels of anger and fear within his country,” TIME wrote.

But that anger was already there. People in both parties were furious at the Establishment and at Wall Street. They wanted better deals for Main Street. And here’s what the Democrats missed — they wanted more attention paid to the rural areas and less time focused on big-city fascinations, such as identity politics and bathroom policies.

TIME then suggested that Trump muscled through the primary and general election using racially tinged rhetoric that should have backfired.

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“Now it’s difficult to count all the ways Trump remade the game … The fabulist out-shouted journalists fighting to separate fact from falsehood. The demagogue won more Latino and black votes than the 2012 Republican nominee,” TIME wrote.

If he won more black and Latino votes than Republican nominee Mitt Romney did in 2012, it’s likely because those minority voters took Trump at his word that he would fight for all Americans — especially in the inner cities. The then-GOP nominee pledged to “make America great again” — and “rich again,” — not just rich for whites, but for all.

Economic Populism
TIME suggested President Obama saw the public’s desire for a populist disrupter who would bring jobs as far back as 2005.

But the magazine makes the laughable claim that Republicans such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush saw it too — this year.

“Since the bungled Iraq War faded into the rear-view mirror, there has been only one defining issue in American presidential politics, spanning party and ideology,” TIME wrote. “It’s what Marco Rubio meant when he said, ‘We are losing the American Dream,’ and why Jeb Bush claimed everyone has a ‘right to rise.'”

Every politician promises better opportunities. But to suggest other Republicans correctly identified the rising populist tide is absurd. Bush and Rubio thought Trump and his ideas would fade away by February 2016.

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Jeb Bush was the poster child of tone-deafness in the Republican primary (until he dropped out and Ohio Gov. John Kasich took that mantle). The former Florida governor praised illegal immigration as an “act of love.” After making that remark, he sunk, permanently, to the bottom of the pack in the polls — and soon his political career was six feet under, after Trump labeled him “low energy.”

Populism requires not only the right ideas but also energy. In the end, Bush and Hillary Clinton lacked both.

TIME tars the Trump victory by parroting the old explanations for a Republican win: racism. It’s the latest version of that old chestnut, the Willie Horton excuse: When Democrats lose, it’s likely because of bigotry.

“[Trump’s] rhetoric had in fact opened up a new public square, where racists and misogynists could boast of their views and claim themselves validated,” TIME wrote. “After the election, Trump’s campaign CEO Stephen Bannon — the former head of a website known for stirring racial animus and provoking liberal outrage — explained it simply. ‘Darkness is good,’ he told the Hollywood Reporter.”

Forget that Bannon loves to tweak the media and is not seriously advocating “darkness.” And that both candidates attracted kooks — a common occurrence in American national races.

Trump hit the hard, taboo truths of illegal immigration. He said that if illegal aliens continue to flood across the border, the labor market will see wages drop. Crime could also increase, and public services will be stretched thin.

It’s common sense to most Americans. It’s racism to TIME.

meet the author

Political reporter, LifeZette. Indiana University journalism grad. Boston U. business grad. Former Indiana, Alabama statehouse reporter, Daytona Beach editorial writer.

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