Trump vs. TIME Magazine: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump during the Presidential Debate at Hofstra University. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

On Black Friday, President Trump took to Twitter to say that he turned down the opportunity to be TIME Magazine’s “Person of the Year” for 2017, because that would requite an interview and photo shoot. However, the person who runs TIME’s Twitter account disagreed with Trump’s version of events. Here’s five things you need to know:


1. Trump was “Person of the Year” for 2016

TIME has put out annual “Person of the Year” issues since 1999; before that, the magazine produced issues honoring the “Man” or “Woman” of the year. The magazine’s first Man of the Year was Charles Lindbergh, back in 1927.

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In late 2016, after winning the presidential election but before taking office, Trump was TIME’s Person of the Year. In an article explaining “The Choice,” TIME managing editor Nancy Gibbs wrote that “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. So which is it this year: Better or worse? The challenge for Donald Trump is how profoundly the country disagrees about the answer….”

According to the caption of the actual Trump photo to appear on the 2016 “Person of the Year” cover, the photo shoot took place in Trump Tower’s penthouse on Nov. 28 of last year. One year minus four days later, Trump took to Twitter to say TIME planned to give him the honor again.


2. Time Publicly Contradicted Trump’s 2017 Claim

If Trump were Person of the Year again in 2017, that would not make him the first person to hold the honor twice–but he would be the first person since former president Richard Nixon to hold that status for two consecutive years.

On the afternoon of Nov. 24, Trump went on Twitter to claim that “Time Magazine called to say that I was PROBABLY going to be named “Man (Person) of the Year,” like last year, but I would have to agree to an interview and a major photo shoot. I said probably is no good and took a pass. Thanks anyway!”

Later that afternoon, TIME reported on its own Twitter account that “The President is incorrect about how we choose Person of the Year. TIME does not comment on our choice until publication, which is December 6.”


3. TIME has Previously Asked Trump to Stop Displaying Fake Magazine Covers in his Clubs

Donald Trump, TIME Magazine, Person of the Year

MSNBC/NBCNewsThe fake TIME cover that hung on the walls of various Trump-branded private clubs (screenshot from MSNBC/NBCNews.com)

Last June, TIME asked the Trump organization to take down certain fake magazine covers on display at various Trump-themed golf clubs. The magazine’s request came after the Washington Post reported that at least four different Trump-brand golf clubs had on display what looked like a TIME magazine cover from March 1, 2009, with the cover story “Donald Trump: The ‘Apprentice’ is a television smash!”

A spokesperson for TIME confirmed that the magazine had never published an issue with such a cover. On June 28, the magazine published a story about the incident, titled “How to Spot a Fake TIME cover.” Among other indications that Trump’s “Apprentice” cover was fake was the overuse of certain forms of punctuation: “we do like punctuation for emphasis (evident in the use of periods on four recent cover concerning Trump (‘Deal With It.’, ‘Meltdown.’, ‘Total Meltdown.’ and ‘Nothing to See Here.’) But exclamation points and question marks are another thing – particularly the four (!) in use on the fake Trump cover.

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When Trump made his Twitter claim that TIME intended to make him Person of the Year again in 2017, former TIME editor Richard Stengel took to Twitter to disagree, and suggest Trump haul his fake magazine covers out of storage: “Hate to tell you but that PROBABLY means you’re NOT Person of the Year. They just wanted a photo shoot. But I’m sure you still have that fake TIME cover somewhere in storage.”


4. Trump has Previously Criticized the Magazine for not Giving him Coverage he Felt he Deserved

Despite Trump’s recent claims of disinterest regarding the magazine, in the past he has criticized TIME by name for not writing news stories about him when he felt they should. In October 2012, for example, he tweeted “I knew last year that @TIME Magazine lost all credibility when they didn’t include me in their Top 100…”

Similarly, in December 2015 he gave a shoutout to then-current Fox News host Bill O’Reilly: “Thank you @oreillyfactor for your wonderful editorial as to why I should have been @TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year. You should run Time!”

He has also advised the magazine on how to make itself better, as in July 2013 when he suggested “.@TIME Magazine should definitely pick David Pecker to run things over there – he’d make it exciting and win awards!”


5. The Twittersphere Found Trump’s Claim Hilarious

Online skeptics found reason to doubt Trump’s claim even before seeing TIME’s response to it. As CNN host Brian Stelter pointed out, “In 2015, much to Trump’s chagrin, Time named Angela Merkel the Person of the Year. Merkel didn’t grant an interview or photo shoot. This suggests, contra Trump, the title isn’t dependent on an interview/photo shoot.” (Merkel’s “Person of the Year” cover featured a painting of her, rather than a photograph.)

Stelter’s Tweet came after TIME’s own Twitter account contradicted Trump’s claims, if the timestamps are accurate. But former TIME editor Richard Stengel’s dig at “that fake TIME cover” Trump has “somewhere in storage” went up almost two hours before TIME’s current social media guru disagreed with Trump on the magazine’s official Twitter feed.

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