It was never going to go any other way. In a year when nobody – least of all the experts – was able to predict the result of anything with any certainty, Donald Trump being named Time’s Person of the Year feels like the only sure thing.
The choice by Time’s editors will likely be as divisive as the presidential race that ended in a shock victory for Trump — but only because a lot of people don’t understand that the choice is not an endorsement.
@TIME I expect the internet to react calmly and maturely about this.
Perhaps aware of this annual confusion, Time chose to highlight its criteria for Person of the Year in the opening sentence of its announcement Wednesday morning. “This is the 90th time we have named the person who had the greatest influence, for better or worse, on the events of the year.”
Given this criteria, the other people on the shortlist, like Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, pop star Beyonce, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, never had a real shot at the title.
As Time editor-in-chief Nancy Gibbs said: “For reminding America that demagoguery feeds on despair and that truth is only as powerful as the trust in those who speak it, for empowering a hidden electorate by mainstreaming its furies and live-streaming its fears, and for framing tomorrow’s political culture by demolishing yesterday’s, Donald Trump is TIME’s 2016 Person of the Year.”
Just last year Trump was runner-up to German chancellor Angela Merkel as Person of the Year, and he tweeted then that the magazine would never pick him:
Reacting to the news that the magazine had chosen him this year, Trump told the “Today” show that it was a “very, very great honor” to receive the recognition from Time, which he said he read as a kid. When asked about the tagline on the magazine’s front cover — “President of the Divided States of America” — Trump responded, “I didn’t do anything to divide the country.”
A lot of people unhappy with Time’s choice are also pointing out that the award has previously gone to Hitler, Stalin, and Vladimir Putin.
Time "Person of the Year" :
Others questioned the rationale behind the choice:
Time: Don't normalize Trump it's easy just focus on his poli…
Time to Time: Make him person of the year. pic.twitter.com/ZdQozC7jNT
Still, at least once person approved of the choice: