Time Magazine Is Hiding a Lot of Stuff from a Lot of Countries, Apparently

Opponents of the lamestream liberal media are in an uproar that venerable Time magazine is trying to "hide Putin's success from U.S. voters" (in the words of The Daily Caller). Well, no.

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Opponents of the lamestream liberal media are in an uproar that venerable Time magazine is trying to "hide Putin's success from U.S. voters" (in the words of The Daily Caller) by having a different cover in its domestic edition than its global ones. This only misses about three major points about how Time does its international covers.

In the interest of fairness, here's the case presented by The Daily Caller, which is a little more fleshed out than that at the Ace of Spades blog, which appears to have been the first to seize on it.

Time Magazine’s cover for its September 16 issue features a picture of contented-looking Russian president Vladimir Putin, complete with a black background and a damning caption that declares “America’s weak and waffling, Russia’s rich and resurgent.”

But Time’s editors are shielding Americans from the demoralizing picture, putting a cheerful, sky-blue photo on the covers of magazines distributed in the United States.

Here are the covers at issue.

In case you can't see the images very well, here's the site itself. Clearly Time was trying to hide the Putin story that is plugged in the upper-right-hand corner of the U.S. edition. Or maybe it was trying to shield the rest of the world from the divisive issue of whether or not we should pay college athletes (which we presume is also Obama's fault)? After all, that's the story that fails to appear on each cover, not the one about Putin.

So here's the first point: Time, an American magazine, has America-specific features all the time. But the majority of the time, the covers for all four editions (U.S., Europe, Asia, South Pacific) are the same. We went back and looked at the past year of covers to get a sense for how they varied. The two graphs below show the data between the middle of last September and the most recent issue (Time doesn't publish every week). The graph on the left shows how many editions each week shared the U.S. cover; the one on the right shows how many times the regional editions had their own unique covers. In other words, those times that the Asian edition had its own cover, while the other three didn't.

As you can see, for 17 weeks of the year, the U.S. edition was unique. Twenty-six times, however, all four covers were the same. That's rebuttal point one. Unique U.S. covers happen about half the time — far more often than we need to hide Putin's triumphs.

The second graph shows the times that the U.S. cover was shared with two other editions — in other words, some other edition was the unique one. Five times — ten percent of the year — the Europe edition had its own cover.

Which brings us to the other two points about the Daily Caller's critique. One, the Putin cover is at least a week old. And two, here's this week's cover.

Why is Time trying to hide Wall Street's success from Europe and Africa?!

And here are the covers from May 13.

Why is Time trying to hide our challenges in balancing privacy and national security from Asia?!
Why isn't the rest of the world allowed to know about that cool vest?!

The Time report on college football, while not itself unique, was certainly planned for a long time in advance. It is a story that is specific to the American market (probably as that vest one was to a Japanese market). This isn't a conspiracy; it's marketing. Unique American editions — while not as common as each edition sharing the same cover — are so old that they've already gotten a BuzzFeed listicle. It's not really a big story. Except you know how biased the media can be.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.