Russ Smith, if his Wikipedia page is to be trusted, is a newspaper publisher and columnist “best known for founding the Baltimore City Paper, Washington City Paper and New York Press.” I know for a fact that at the latter he published the great Alexander Cockburn, because way back in the day I worked for Alex when he was writing for the New York Press.
Russ is also great, and not merely because he’s been retweeting me lately, though that counts. Seriously, we don’t always agree, which makes life interesting, but I’m a huge fan and am glad to have recently reconnected. Russ, if you are ever in my neck of the woods, let’s go out for a drink. (And if your Wikipedia page is to be trusted, you can afford to pick up the tab.)
Anyway, Russ wrote a hilarious story yesterday at his website Splicetoday.com, in which he predicted who Time magazine would pick to be its Person of the Year (POTY). Here’s a lightly edited excerpt:
I can’t remember when I last read Time magazine—much less subscribed to the weekly that at one time commanded respect, grudging or otherwise—and if it was during this century it’d be a surprise…
This much I’ll admit: like millions (hundreds of thousands?) of other Americans, I do get sucked into Time’s “Person of the Year” special at the end of each year, mostly out of habit since the designation that once meant something has long become an exercise for the publication’s editors to curry favor with this group or that. Still, I did participate in the extended family pool annually orchestrated by my niece Bronwen, who tallies the results and (usually) lets us all know who won when the person or concept is announced.
There’s no question that Donald Trump “influenced the news cycle,” for better or worse, in 2017, just as he did in 2015 and last year (when he took home the trophy), but of course he won’t repeat this year. So, unlike even 25 years ago, you enter this friendly wager with a jaundiced eye, trying to game Time’s thinking as opposed to making honest choices.
Therefore, my top three were as follows: 1. An amalgam of victims of sexual abuse and predators. 2. Robert Mueller, the special counsel whom Trump detractors pray will bring down the President. 3. Kim Jong-un, the noisy North Korean dictator who, every other week it seems, tests out some nuclear device while the citizens of his country starve.
Notice that all three choices spring from the well of Trump. It can be argued that Trump’s loathsome views of women—Access Hollywood, boasts about dick size, the pulchritude of his daughter and so one—from which he astoundingly survived during last year’s election (thanks, in no small part, to Bill Clinton), juiced the cultural climate for the onslaught of powerful men exposed as rapists, gropers, harassers, and all-around creeps. Had Hillary Clinton defeated Trump, would the sordid deeds of Harvey Weinstein been revealed? I have my doubts.
But I want to make a prediction of my own. One person who won’t win POTY is the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman — even though he is, rather amusingly, currently in first place in Time‘s annual poll.
Bin Salman is a cretin, like many previous POTY winners, and hence fully credentialed. But there can be only one reason that the Saudi ruler is currently atop the poll, and that’s because he is paying Washington lobbyists a fortune to promote him in DC. His handlers are no doubt stacking the poll as part of their campaign, which appears to be led by New York Times op-ed idiot Thomas Friedman.
Friedman’s recently been led around Saudi Arabia on a leash by the kingdom’s lobbyists and PR handlers, and produced a hilarious series of columns about Bin Salman’s “reform” efforts. Facilitating Bin Salman’s efforts is that he is desperately sucking up to Israel, which makes him gold in the U.S., though no doubt despised by his long-oppressed subjects.
Anyway, Russ, if Bin Salman wins POTY, drinks are on me. Otherwise, you pick up the tab. Fair?