Time magazine responded on Friday to President Donald Trump’s claim that he had turned down the publication’s offer to be “Person of the Year” — “PROBABLY.”
Trump tweeted Friday that the magazine had called to inform him he would “PROBABLY” be named “Man (Person) of the Year” — the title changed to “Person of the Year” in 1999 — but that he had turned down the offer because, he said, it would require an interview and a photo shoot, and because “probably is no good.”
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 24, 2017
The magazine, while not denying it had been in touch with Trump, said it “does not comment on our choice until publication.”
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.
— TIME (@TIME) November 25, 2017
And the former managing editor of Time, Richard Stengel, tweeted that “PROBABLY means you’re NOT Person of the Year.”
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. https://t.co/HkW1XkKxXK
— Richard Stengel (@stengel) November 24, 2017
Mr. President, just to clarify things, I wanted to offer a few statistics. Number of times you were Person of the Year during the 7 years I was editor of Time: 0. Number of times you were on the cover: 0. Number of times you made the Time 100 influentials list: 0. Thanks anyway!
— Richard Stengel (@stengel) November 25, 2017
CNN’s Brian Stelter pointed out that Trump’s aversion to interviews with news outlets as President may not have disqualified him from the top spot. Just two years ago, Stelter noted, German Chancellor Angela Merkel won the cover spot without sitting for a portrait nor an interview.
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 pic.twitter.com/2X4M2Ebcnb
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) November 25, 2017
Trump was among the finalists for the top spot that year, according to Time. His fellow runners-up: Islamic State leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the Black Lives Matter movement, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Uber founder Travis Kalanick and Olympic athlete and reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner, who that year had come out as a trans woman.
The then-candidate raged at his being overlooked, bringing it up at a campaign rally — “I’m never going to get it because I’m not establishment,” he said — and venting in a tweet.
I told you @TIME Magazine would never pick me as person of the year despite being the big favorite They picked person who is ruining Germany
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 9, 2015
The next year, Trump won his coveted prize, shortly after his shocking election.
The President’s obsession with Time is well-known. He said of his 2016 award: “It means a lot, especially me growing up reading Time magazine. And it’s a very important magazine.”