Time's managing editor Richard Stengel appeared on MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports, on Thursday, to promote his magazine's Person of the Year issue and after he cited the reasons for selecting Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, he explained the reason the Tea Party didn't was because they were a group. After host Andrea Mitchell asked him to explain his rationale for not picking the other runners-up, Stengel lamely told her he disqualified the Tea Party because he's "biased in favor of putting a single person on the cover."
However, devoting a Time Person of the Year cover to a group of people is not without precedent. In recent years Time acknowledged "The Good Samaritans" of Bono, Bill and Melinda Gates in 2005, "The American Soldier" in 2003, and in 2006, when Stengel took over as managing editor of Time he put a mirror on the cover of the magazine as he declared "You" the Person of the Year.
The following exchange was aired on the December 15 edition of Andrea Mitchell Reports:
ANDREA MITCHELL: What about the runners-up? Why were they chosen and why do they fall just short of the mark?
RICHARD STENGEL, TIME: So we had the, the Tea Party was one of the runners-up. They had an obviously extraordinary year. I'm biased in favor of putting a single person on the cover, and part of the problem with the Tea Party is it's hard to find a single person. Julian Assange obviously came on very strong at the end of the year. And in some ways he is the flip-side of Mark Zuckerberg. They both talk about transparency. They both talk about openness. Assange wants to use that in terms of pulling down governments and pulling down institutions. Zuckerberg wants to use that openness in terms of connecting people and he's reaching just a staggering number of people. There will soon be 600 million on Facebook. The Chilean miners was, would've been you know a heart-warming choice and we have a fantastic photo essay of them. And Hamid Karzai, of course, wasn't going to win but represents the, the, the hardest foreign policy issue facing us today.
—Geoffrey Dickens is the Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here