Donald Trump’s Obsession with Time magazine makes too much sense


If I had to choose the year Time magazine's "person of the year" jumped the shark, it would probably start with 2006. That's when Time observed the increase in platforms Open publication such as Wikipedia, YouTube and Facebook, and decided that the most influential person was the collective "you". It was cheesy, trite, and had the exact effect Time desired: everyone talked about that.

Time's annual "person of the year" designation has always been a trick, dating back to Charles Lindbergh in 1927. Time was once a mischievous upstart, but for decades it was a magazine very important to read. Now that the apogee of news magazines has diminished, the spectrum of people who have ever had a physical copy of Time in their hands has withered. However, the "person of the year" still creates a residual attention buzz that, as my colleague David Graham wrote in 2012, is not really justified. "End of year endings," he wrote, "are simply not news."

Well, they're not new until the president of the United States gets involved, anyway.

Donald Trump has always had a gift of making a great thing out of nothing. "I can only say that the press could not get enough," he wrote in The Art of the Deal in 1987. Back then, he was still trying to solve it. Now, as president, lashing the press in a frenzy is, for Donald Trump, muscle memory.

"Time Magazine called to say that it was PROBABLY going to be named" Man (Person) of the Year ", like last year," Trump tweeted on Friday, "but would have to accept an interview and an important photo shoot, I said it's probably not good and I took a step, thank you anyway! "

The magazine did not take long to return the fire:" The president does not know how to choose the person of the year, TIME does not comment on our choice until the publication, which is December 6. "

" The man of the year "-he became" persona "in 1999-is possibly the most triumphant tradition in journalism journalism. And not just because of Trump's apparent obsession with appearing on the cover. In June, The Washington Post discovered what appeared to be a backward issue of the magazine Time with the appearance of Trump on the cover, and that it appeared in at least five of the clubs in Trump, was, in fact, adulterated. The fake cover featured a serious Trump with twin evaluations: "Donald Trump: the apprentice is a television hit!" And "TRUMP IS HITTING ON ALL FRONTS". . . EVEN TV! "The real problem of Time magazine at that time presented the actress Kate Winslet on the cover.

One can only imagine the conversations that took place between the editorial team Time in the last 24 hours, but one thing almost certainly arose: Trump's strange decision to insert himself into all things in this dramatic moment of American life, The choice of time for a tradition of the decadent impression era is definitely good for business. (And, by the way, Time actually named Trump "person of the year" in 2016.) This, at a time when the business of print magazines is generally not thriving. The newsroom Time is still home to many great journalists, but the economic environment of the weeklies is absolutely brutal. Newsweek ? Once he routinely determined the converse national ation. Not so different (To answer your question, yes, Newsweek still exists.) Meanwhile, the Koch brothers support the possible purchase of the Meredith Corporation publication, according to The New York Times .

Donald Trump and Marla Maples meet characters from the TV show & # 39; Dinosaurs & # 39; during lunch at the Plaza Hotel in 1992. (Henry Ray Abrams / Reuters)

A way to bind people to-if not actually care -care attention: a challenging tweet from President Trump . On the one hand, why the hell Donald Trump … the president of the United States, Donald Trump -care what time magazine is doing? On the other hand, of course Donald Trump is obsessed with the contest Time of the magazine "Person of the Year". It's as strange and surprising as if Trump were starting to bother with room service in the Plaza, or the bar service in Elaine's, or "choose yours" in the 1990s-New York-City-reference . Donald Trump is a man whose concept of wealth is all of Manhattan around 1989. And in Manhattan in 1989, Time magazine was the king of the newsstand.

Trump became a public figure and a celebrity in The Apex of Time . But more than that, Time is the perfect manifestation of Trump's attitude toward success. To understand why a person like Donald Trump would gravitate towards a magazine like Time he has to see his two stories.

In the 1980s, when Time was still a cash cow and Trump was still consolidating as a pillar in Page Six, Time was a very serious publication and Trump was a semi-serial accessory in the tabloids. The cable news – Trump's preferred journalistic media today – was still in its infancy. Trump seemed predestined for the racket-gut stardom: there was the personal drama-an ugly divorce, a dramatic altercation in Aspen, the supposed infidelity with a beautiful second wife-and, of course, public bankruptcy and the amazing redemption. Trump enjoyed a relentless cultural pop relevance throughout: he made a cameo in Home Alone 2 recalls, and seemed destined forever to fame B at best. Looking back on the media landscape of Trump's younger years, the idea of ​​Trump on the cover of Time seemed as foolish as Trump when buying the Plaza Hotel, or being elected president of the United States.

Donald Trump, we know now, is a man who is energized by the improbable.

Trump's wealth – and the person he built around him – has always been aspirational. The expansive expanses of cold marble, the gold accessories of New Jersey, the aggressively new aesthetics. The superlatives that spill so easily from Trump's lips: everything is the best, the best and the most. The time was not so different at the beginning. The magazine was founded by rich men who played with their parents' money: no member of the founding team was more than three years out of college, wrote the historian of Theodore Peterson magazine once. As my colleague Robinson Meyer and I wrote about Time in 2015, Time became the most powerful media tool in the mid-United States. In the early 1980s, when Trump was reaching fame, Time was absolutely red-hot:

So red, "wrote John Podhoretz in Commentary, describing what it was like to work for Time in the 1980s, "That the first week I was there, the world section had a farewell lunch for a writer who was being sent to Paris to serve as head of the office … at Lutèce, Manhattan's most expensive restaurant, for 50 people. So go away if you stayed past 8, you could take a limo home … and take it anywhere, even to the Hamptons if you have weekend plans there. So, if a writer who lived, for example, in the suburbs of Connecticut, stayed up late writing his article that week, he could stay in the city at a hotel of his choice. "

All this sounds absurd today in day, like excess. -top like the idea of ​​"person of the year."

In 2006, when Time person of the year was "you", Trump was in a triumphant phase in what was he had become a roller coaster of successes and setbacks, still enjoying his fame as a presenter of The Apprentice, a reality TV show on NBC.

Trump was 60 years old at the time, but the experience was still formative in a way. The Apprentice was a success, and it was measured in television ratings, even when Trump became president of the United States of America – a much bigger show than any game show – he became obsessed with the size of the crowd of the inauguration, old habits.

The man who wrote the story Time in 2006, holding "you", described his methodology at that time: "When you are choosing Time " s Person of the year, you play a bit as a historian of the future. What is the 2006 story that people will remember? And more, I think, that any of the political or military stories, the change of power of media consumers becoming producers of the media … that will really change a lot. "

Trump's tweets are proof of this change, evidence that Time's "person of the year" in 2006 was prophetic, Trump's own presidency is not easily separated from this. Time matters to Trump, not only because of narcissism that is needed to take care, first of all, let alone tweet, but because Time and Trump came up in a bygone era, a moment of wealth and possibility in New York City and, by extension, in America Time always saw itself as the magazine of a very specific type of American greatness, Trump, he swears, is the same.

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