There are some real jerks on Time's shortlist for Person of the Year.


One leads a terrorist cell murdering people around the world.

Another is the populist Presidential candidate J.K. Rowling has labelled “worse than Voldemort”.

And then there’s Vladimir Putin.

Welcome to Time Magazine’s annual Person of the Year shortlist. It’s the list that puts human rights activists (America’s Black Live Matter campaigners) alongside a man who wants to stop all Muslims from entering the US.

The annual Person of the Year award is a long-standing tradition for the magazine, which famously gave Man of the Year (the precursor to the Person of the Year) to Adolph Hitler in 1938.

Last year’s winner was “the Ebola fighters“.

The shortlist is picked by Time’s editors, and will be “the person Time believes most influenced the news this year for better or worse”.

Which is how terrorist Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi got on the list.

Al-Baghdadi is the head of ISIS.

Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi as he appeared in an ISIS video posted online in July 2014

Time says he’s on the list because: “As leader of ISIS [he] has inspired followers to both fight in his self-declared caliphate of Iraq and Syria, and also stage attacks in countries like Tunisia and France.”

But his inclusion begs the question: just how valuable is this exercise?

It seems pretty clear that Time is not advocating for these people on their list. But making a man who leads a network executing people for their sexual orientation, raping women and stoning them to death, inspiring violent murders across the globe and destabilising an entire region in pursuit of its “holy war”,  the “person of the year” still seems to be bestowing them with an undeserved honour.

It stunk when it was Hitler, it stinks just as much now that it might be Al-Baghdadi.


Because attention is just what ISIS wants. Al-Baghdadi’s face on the cover of Time could probably only be topped by a front-page shoot for Rolling Stone.

He shouldn’t be on the list.

If Time wants to give an award for “Newsmaker of the Year” that’s what they should call it.

But “Person of the Year” is a title that implies we should look up to or respect what the people who make that shortlist have done.

Which is why Donald Trump is sulking about how he thinks he won’t win.

“I assume they’re considering me for man of the year. I say there’s no way they give it to me. They can’t. Because, mentally, they can’t. They just can’t. They can’t do it. Even if I deserve it, they can’t do it,” he said at a rally in Birmingham, Alabama on the weekend.

Whether it’s meant to be a compliment or not, people are going to see it as flattering.

As part of the process, Time asks readers who they think should be Person of the Year.

This year, the winner of the people’s choice poll was Democratic Senator and Presidential candidate hopeful Bernie Sanders.

He was followed by Malala Yousafzai and Pope Francis. The rest of the top eight included “refugees”, Barack Obama, Stephen Colbert, Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi and Elon Musk.

So not one of the people that made the editor’s list, made the people’s.

No list can be perfect. Some nominees are worse than others. But Al-Baghdadi? He has no place on any list that might lend him any kind of cache or authority.

Time is expected to announce the Person of the Year later today.