Time awarding Biden, Harris ‘Person of the Year’ is an insult to health care workers
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.
Instead, Time named essential workers “Guardians of the Year,” which is akin to getting a bronze medal or a third-place trophy. And to add insult to injury, the magazine didn’t place a doctor in a P100 mask or a nurse scrambling to keep a COVID patient alive on its Guardian cover, but instead opted for Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Fauci became a trusted voice for some but didn’t put himself at risk by actually treating patients. Why, exactly, Dr. Fauci is lumped in with active doctors in ERs and ICU units is a simple explanation: His face will help sell more copies.
We often hear about the COVID-19 death toll that has eclipsed 295,000 in the U.S., as we should, but what’s often forgotten or not reported is the tremendous strides that the medical community has made is saving lives.
Overall, COVID’s death rate has dropped substantially, according to an NYU Langone analysis published in October, with at-risk patients in the study that had 25.6 percent chance of dying in March having a 7.6 percent chance of dying in August.
For about two decades now, Time has engaged in a prejudiced, PC selection process after showing real brass with its earlier selections in sticking to its criteria for the award. Those outside the media bubble likely don’t understand what Time’s criterion is, so here’s the official definition per the magazine:
“The criterion is the person or persons who most affected the news and our lives, for good or ill, and embodied what was important about the year.”
Sometimes that choice is easy, such as when President Trump won the 2016 election and when Barack Obama became the first Black president in 2008. Other times, the choice is more difficult, as witnessed in 2001.
That was, of course, the year of the 9/11 attacks. Per its own definition, the inhuman Osama Bin Laden should have been the choice given that he was behind the attacks that changed the world forever. But from a PR perspective, Time no doubt saw that selection as a disaster, with the aforementioned misunderstanding of the “award” leading to a potential reader and advertiser revolt. Instead, they went with “America’s Mayor” in Rudy Giuliani instead, which, given the way he’s treated now in the press, is fascinating to think about.
A look back at past winners from the 20th century also shows the publication’s fearlessness in following said criteria to the letter: Hitler won. So did Stalin. And Iran’s Khomeini also did after Americans were taken hostage in 1979.
To that end, a strong argument could be made for President Trump to be 2020’s Person of the Year, who is absolutely the “person who most affected the news and our lives, for good or ill, and embodied what was important about the year.” He’s certainly a better choice than Biden and Harris, who are the first tandem to capture the presidency largely by pleading The Fifth.
Note: This election was ultimately a referendum on Trump and not an embrace of the Biden-Harris worldview, which is fluid, largely undefined, poll-tested and built for political expediency (just ask any true progressive).
In recent years, Time lost that brass. It shifted to choosing social justice groups, including “the Protestor” after 2011’s Occupy Wall Street, “You” in 2006 (for individual content creators on the web), “Good Samaritans” in 2005 (Bill and Melinda Gates, along with Bono) and “The Whistleblowers” at Enron in 2002. Thin gruel.
So, while a strong case can be made for Trump based on the criteria, the millions of medical professionals actually had the most impact in terms of saving lives while risking their own. That’s especially true after Time chose “The Ebola Fighters” in 2014 during the Obama administration.
Ultimately, Time made a business decision and an ideological decision here, which is nothing new for a publication that has seen its subscriptions cut in half, from 4.6 million in the mid-1980s to just 2.3 million now. Because that’s what happens when catering to just half the country.
So, here’s to our medical professionals on the front lines and all essential workers and everyone else, from bus drivers to pilots to food processing plant workers to grocery store employees.
You had the most impact in keeping the country and world going at your own peril.
And you don’t need a partisan magazine to tell you that.
Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist for The Hill.