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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Encore Presentation: Time Person of the Year

Aired December 17, 2006 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(NEWS BREAK)
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who should be Person of the Year?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president of the United States could be Person of the Year every year.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is a tough war.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rumsfeld's departure is a major, major turning point.

DONALD RUMSFELD, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I have benefited greatly from criticism.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There have been a lot of bad guys that have framed the news.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ahmadinejad I think is a very serious candidate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's this really small guy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Masterful politician.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wearing basically a member's only jacket, ruling this country with tons of young people in it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And lots of people have talked about Kim Jong-Il.

BUSH: All of us said, don't fire that rocket.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This guy is crazy and his people are starving.

BUSH: Not only fired one, he fired several.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Changing the stakes of the global equation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hugo Chavez of Venezuela stand out his showmanship... UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anti-Americanism...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... and the muscle behind the rhetoric.

REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) CALIFORNIA: The American people voted for change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Democrats win the House and the Senate. Is that the story of the year?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Myspace, facebook and YouTube.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a great year to pick the people who changed the way that we interact with information.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to be able to provide you an even better service.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a powerful message that you send. You are telling people that this is the most important story of the year.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It could be a man or woman, a hero or a villain, the person who most affected our lives, our world in 2006.

I'm Soledad O'Brien.

Welcome to CNN's special presentation of "Time's Person of the Year". It's never an easy decision and sometimes the choice is quite controversial. As you're about to see, this year was no exception. We'll take you behind the scenes to watch as "Time" staffers make the case. Then we will ask some of the country's top bloggers who they think should be on this year's cover. And finally, we will join "Time's" managing editor as he reveals the Person of the Year for 2006.

First though, a little bit of history.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN (voice-over): "Time Magazine's" founder, Henry Luce, had a radical idea: to tell history through the lives of individual people. "Man of the Year" represented a powerful historical snapshot, one meant to resonate through the decades.

In 1999, it finally became "Person of the Year". But the definition has remained the same.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Person or persons...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... who most affected...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... the news...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... in our lives...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... whether it was for good...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... or bad...

RICHARD STENGEL, MANAGING EDITOR: ... and embodied what was important about the year. For better or worse.

O'BRIEN (on camera): Would you say that definition has sort of maintained through all of the years or has it morphed?

STENGEL: Traditionally people have thought the "Person of the Year" as an honor, but it's not an honor. It's neutral.

Adolf Hitler was person of the year in 1938 and it was unmistakable that this wasn't an honor. Henry Luce was abject. He thought that the franchise was destroyed.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): That franchise of course was not destroyed. In fact, it's become something of an institution. But distress over unpopular "Persons of the Year" has come up again and again. In 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini was named "Man of the Year" while he was holding Americans hostage in Tehran.

ADI IGNATIUS, EXECUTIVE EDITOR: There was a lot of adverse reactions and people canceled their subscriptions and criticized us.

O'BRIEN: And just five years ago:

IGNATIUS: A love people thought that Osama bin Laden shouldn't have been "Person of the Year".

O'BRIEN (on camera): And there was a controversy over that. Osama bin Laden and right after 9/11 -- I mean, talk about affecting the word.

IGNATIUS: As an American, people felt well, it would be such a downer. They were looking for something positive.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): So in 2001 the decision was made to go with a good guy, Rudy Giuliani.

LISA BEYER, NATIONAL EDITOR: I was a purist. My argument was the person who for better or worst the person most affected the news clearly was Osama bin Laden and as painful as it was, he was the person that we ought to choose. And we could have taken the lumps.

O'BRIEN: During the selection process, editors are welcome to weigh in with their opinions.

BELINDA LUSCOMBE, SENIOR EDITOR: Like the Oscars, and there -- I can't believe we chose that guy.

JOSH TYRANGIEL, MANAGING EDITOR, TIME.COM: Those conversations are some of the most fun times you have during the year because it is a great parlor game. O'BRIEN: But ultimately, it's not a democratic process.

O'BRIEN (on camera): Who makes the final decision?

STENGEL: The managing of "Time Magazine" does. I do. It's not a science. It's not objective. You're looking for somebody who's a symbol.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Sometimes that symbol can represent opposing ideas.

STENGEL: Stalin won twice: in 1939 because of the Hitler-Stalin Pact and then 1942 because the USSR came in on the side of the Allies in World War II. So he is a villain and a hero.

O'BRIEN: Pairings have also caused controversy.

STENGEL: In '72, we put Nixon and Kissinger on the cover and apparently Nixon got wind of the fact that he would be on with Dr. Kissinger and was incredibly angry about it. And Kissinger actually called the then-managing editor and said, can you take me off of Person of the Year and the managing editor said, no, Henry, if you keep calling me, I'll put you on by yourself and then you'll really be in trouble. And that was enough for Kissinger.

O'BRIEN: Eleven U.S. president have been Man on the Year. The first woman was named in 1936 and she was one of rather dubious distinction.

(on camera): Wallace Simpson, she was famous because of an affair.

STENGEL: She was famous because of a man. You could make the case that British monarchy and the fact that her husband abdicated his crown because of the love of an American divorcee was not the most important thing. I'm sure that's probably not our finest and noblest moment.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): And more noble moment, certainly, was in 1960 when the achievements of U.S. scientists landed them on the cover as the first group. That happened again in 2002 with the whistle- blowers.

STEPHEN KOEPP, DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR: These are three very brave people who stood up to big organizations. And the stories of those organizations is really the story of the year.

O'BRIEN: 1982 ushered in the notion of Thing of the Year.

STENGEL: When the computer was Person of the Year, I think people felt here was something that was so transformational that we have to give it to something that's an inanimate object. I do tend to think that people are always a little disappointed when it's not a person.

O'BRIEN: So who will take their place in "Time Magazine's" photo gallery of history? What single person or group or thing represents where we are and where we're headed at the end of 2006?

STENGEL: It ought to be somebody who's a vessel for ideas, who's a vessel for change, who's a vessel for a new paradigm of thinking about the way the world operates. That to me is the real standard.

O'BRIEN: Who met that standard in 2006? We will eavesdrop as "Time's" editors debate that very question.

STENGEL: It's a very tough year to pick a single individual.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have a year that is sort of ripe, really, for us to choose a bad guy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN (on camera): Only days before the November midterm elections "Time's" editorial staff met to kick off the sometimes nerve-wracking process that leads to the selection of their Person of the Year. It was a spirited, open discussion all taking place behind closed doors. But CNN's cameras were in the room.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STENGEL: So this is our POY meeting. The choice of who the Person of the Year is or the Persons of the Year or who it is in many ways is the most important decision we all make every year.

It is a weighty decision. It is a lot of responsibility because of the fact that who -- the Person of the Year does send this global message.

Whether I wanted to send a message or not, it does send a message.

LUSCOMBE: And it is a hard year because there hasn't really been one person who has surfaced in any area.

MICHAEL ELLIOTT, INTERNATIONAL EDITOR: We have to put a whole number of characters together, and this isn't a science, right? This isn't a science. This is an art.

BEYER: Anybody on the staff has an opportunity to pitch in and send in their suggestions and, you know, debate the ideas at various meetings that go on. But ultimately, it's a one-man, one-vote system. And the one man is the managing editor.

STENGEL: People have sent in suggestions already by e-mail, by phone, by carrier kitchen or whatever. And now we're going to now discuss some of the suggestions. Who wants to start?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, in one way -- one way we measure people by how powerful they are. And the president of the United States could be the Person of the Year every year...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please not this year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The other way would be to look at a person who maybe isn't a headline person all of the time, maybe isn't the most in the world, but who's the right person at the right time to make the most mischief. And in this case right now, Moqtada al-Sadr, the Shiite leader in Baghdad, has really thrown a wrench into America's plans for the region.

LUSCOMBE: Another way to do the Shia issue would be to do Iran's leader Ahmadinejad and then you could also touch on the nuclear issue.

PRISCILLA PAINTON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: He is a symbol of two enormous developments that the U.S. is having to come to grips with. One is the rise in nuclear ambitions of people who are in many ways enemies of the United States and in some ways of the western world. Number two, he's a symbol of the rise of Shiite power in that region.

JEFF CHU, STAFF WRITER: There's a lot of militancy that is inspired by this particular strand of Islam. Shiism is something that is a rising force and to acknowledge this would be foreshadowing for the future.

TYRANGIEL: He's this really small guy wearing, you know, basically a member's only jacket.

KOEPP: He is the most visible character. He's a charismatic character. He's very outspoken. He says things that provoke the whole world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ahmadinejad I think is a very serious candidate for Person of the Year. And he's determined that his country shall be a big player in the next generation and he may have a nuclear weapon to back it up with. So that's a pretty big story.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even within Iran, Ahmadinejad -- his powers are very much contested and I guess that's why I would be sort of hesitant about sort of highlighting one single figure and saying that this is the most consequential person of the year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's been a year of many bad guys, and it's kind of hard to find somebody who doesn't fit that definition. I mean, the definition that we do know says for better or ill. And we haven't done anybody for ill in a long time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We could do Rumsfeld or (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

Well, let's talk about Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld has come up as the kind of architect of a failed policy. I mean, that -- would it be confusing to people to put him on the cover as Person of the Year?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Better and worse?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you could say the man who got it wrong. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, rumors of the demise have been pervasive in Washington for years, but they are rumbling again and it is certainly possible, possible even though the president recently defended him stoutly that after the midterm elections there could be a change. Maybe he'd want to spend more time with his family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we put Rumsfeld on the cover as Person of the Year, we would really be saying, Iraq has been mishandled. It is the biggest story in the world and this is person who we feel is at least symbolically the most responsible for it.

BUSH: You will be missed and I wish you and Joyce all the best to enjoy in the years to come.

RAMESH RATNESAR, ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR: Rumsfeld' departure in some ways only magnifies the failure and the admission of failure. And to that extent, I think that's something that is a major, major turning point.

JIM CLOUD, STAFF WRITER: Now, that he's resigned, I think that's a really bizarre choice.

LUSCOMBE: It's hard to know now whether his resignation makes him a better or a worse candidate and also, if people will have just read enough about Donald Rumsfeld by the time it rolls around. He is the figure people either support or really, really hate. And that's a great Person of the Year candidate, somebody who is that much of a lightning rod.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not sure that that comes back as every year we come back to that. And I'm not sure that doesn't take you back to Bush.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you're talking about accountability, I mean, Bush is accountable for every mistake that Rumsfeld has made.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you're everything that's going gone wrong this year, Cheney in some ways is a far more appropriate candidate.

STENGEL: If you're choosing, Cheney, you're in effect saying, here's the real power behind the throne, here's the intellectual father of so much that's happened. And I would be less comfortable with that in part, because we don't know whether that's true.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They all play different rolls, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bush in sort of supporting each other.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It really takes all three to explain how the hell we got here this year and how we get a 10, or 20 or 30 blunder that we'll be dealing with and our kids will be dealing with.

And what would you call it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd call it (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd call it an Axis of Incompetence or an Axis of Arrogance or an Axis of Something and I'd play it on their own name.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's an interesting suggestion to put Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld in the same picture and call them the Axis of Something having to do with failure in Iraq. In this case, it would be Bush as the believer, Cheney as the enforcer and Rumsfeld as the executor of that policy.

STENGEL: Basically, you have the people who are responsible for a circumstance that has changed our history. So that's a very strong possibility and prospect, I think.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One late-breaking consideration has to got be James Baker now that he is on the scene.

JAMES BAKER, CO-CHAIR, IRAQ STUDY GROUP: We do not recommend a stay the course solution. In our opinion, that approach is no longer viable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This would be a real of the moment Person of the Year choice, emblematic of a real turning of the tide. So I think that we're going to be scrambling in the last weeks of the year to look at this really closely and to really consider, do we want him? Do we really want a last-minute choice?

O'BRIEN: When we come back, does the Person of the Year have to be a person?

TYRANGIEL: YouTube, in much of the way Google was previously, it became a verb, and that's cool.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STENGEL: Lots of people have talked about Kim Jong-Il and nuclear proliferation. And you could link him with Ahmadinejad or you could do him on his own. He's changed the stakes of the global equation. Suddenly, he 's sort of blowing off the lid. Does someone want to make the case why Kim Jong-Il should be Person of the Year?

BEYER: He's a proliferater, now just a guy who's got the bomb. He's a proliferater. He's given missile technology to Pakistan, among other places. And he has passed off nuclear components to Iran. And you know, this guy is crazy and his people are starving. That makes for a pretty fresh and interesting case.

NATHAN THORNBURGH, STAFF WRITER: The sunglasses, the blow-dried hair. He has this reputation for being a huge fan of American popular culture, there was talk of DVDs of "Desperate Housewives" going into North Korea for his personal viewing.

STENGEL: I think Kim is still a little bit too puny for the Person of the Year. I mean...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has great hair, though.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And platform shoes, yes.

STENGEL: I just think -- this is the kind of choice, you look at it a year from and think, well, it wasn't such a big deal. We got excited about it. He defied a U.S. administration, but, you know, Iraq is what it is all about that. I mean, that is the biggest story in the country and in the world.

PAINTON: Here's my question: would Iraq feel -- could we have done Iraq a year ago? Perhaps it's the right role of the POY cover this year to look back. But the outlines of this failure I think were evident December one year ago. And the emerging threat of both -- Ahmadinejad and the North Korean leader is the story of this year.

STENGEL: Priscilla, you mentioned the election. We haven't had it yet. If the Democrats win the House -- if they win the House and the Senate, is that a story of the year? Is there a Democratic face?

PAINTON: Well, the problem with that is that the votes being cast for the Democrats are as much about repudiating Bush and his administration, and so I would think give the Democrats a year to show whether they can govern.

STENGEL: One of the big stories of the year is obviously the Democrats coming back into power and the renunciation of the kind of Republican political and foreign strategy. But could you make the case for Congressman Pelosi, Speaker Pelosi?

PAINTON: Well, I think, actually, again, that sort of the party has run against her, that she not going to be responsible even to the extent that the Democratic Party is responsible for its own win, if they win.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She would be the third in line for the presidency, the first woman ever to have a job.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maybe in a cover November, but not December.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the stories that's come up that's we've discussed this year is the rise of user-generated content and the rise of YouTube and facebook and...

What about this notion of maybe doing a you know, a young girl in Omaha who is on facebook, who is using media in a new way. And it kind of represents a change of the way we actually consume, which is a pretty radical thing. You could argue that this year was sort of a tipping point.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How is that person the news maker? I mean, unless that person is generating content. I mean, you have to pick somebody who is actually posting things on YouTube, changing Wikipedia copy. And, in other words, that person -- you wouldn't want that person to merely be a consumer of these products.

CLOUD: This year we have a unique opportunity to pick either a person or group of people who really are right on this year. And we couldn't do them last year and we probably couldn't do them next year. And that's why I hope that this year we pick a person or group of people who are involved in user-generated content, people who have created web sites where you can go to create your own reality, you can manage your own flow of information and you can project yourself on to world.

LUSCOMBE: The people who actually generate the stuff we look at is a very, very smart idea for Person of the Year, and gets at a very vital thing that's happening to America, which is that it's becoming much more in terms of the culture a bottom-up society.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On YouTube, for instance, you can see video from Iraq from the other side's perspective. You can see the way people experienced the elections this year, the George Allen and in Virginia.

SEN. GEORGE ALLEN, (R) VIRGINIA: This fellow over here with the yellow shirt, Macaca or whoever he is, he's with my opponent. He's following us around everywhere.

ANA MARIE COX, WASHINGTON EDITOR, TIME.COM: Macaca, I think it was downloaded 200,000 times. It is a perfectly reasonable argument that George Allen would be a senator today had YouTube not existed.

PAINTON: If you were to chose YouTube as a symbol of user- generated content and its arrival across the world and in the homes of many homes of many Americans this year, then I think you would have to frame the debate around -- is this actually a development that is helping us to stay competitive or are we entertaining ourselves to death?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can do this really easy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's a great story to be told about what's going on online and about people uniting and getting together. The rise of these communities like Wikipedia and myfacebook, my YouTube is a genuinely news mass phenomenon of people sharing creative things on a mass scale that is totally impressive. And to pick somebody out of the crowd, I think is a really fresh idea. And I think that if we look at the story of what happened this year 20 years from now, I think that's one of the things we'll really remember.

STENGEL: The way that people consume news and consume media, you could argue is the most single important thing in people's lives.

CHU: If you think what the world has been through this year, with two major wars, one in Iraq, one between Lebanon and Israel, can you really say that something that people use at home to entertain themselves, something that's actually pretty frivolous could have made such difference on the world stage?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is probably a totally stupid idea, but why don't we tell you don't pick a Person of the Year, and let the user pick it? You know, send it out there. If you're going to use the user-generated, I mean, this is the issue.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We'll get an Asian pop star.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... taking the power away from big corporations, and puts into the hands of each individual and let them pick their own. It's an interesting way to present it. I mean, they would -- each person -- as many as we can get in, and let them take it. So don't even pick a person.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. This is precisely why we need editors.

STENGEL: There are a lot of candidates. It's been an incredibly big news year. After this meeting, we'll actually narrow down the field. Who are the five or six best horses to have running down the track. And then we figure out how to shape those ideas, how to turn them into a Person of the Year cover story.

O'BRIEN: As the editors debate behind closed doors, the Internet is already buzzing. These bloggers may not have a vote, but they definitely have an opinion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I think they we tend to overrate politics when we talk about the Person of the Year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Britney Spears adopted a child in Malawi and ran for office, then we have a story.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back to "Time's Person of the Year," I'm Soledad O'Brien.

To give you a sense of how the final choice is made, we have taken you inside the hallowed halls of "Time" magazine. To get a different perspective, we've decided to check in with some of the country's most influential bloggers and web gurus.

We've got Steve Clemons a liberal blogger from TheWashingtonnote.com. And Chris Mohney from Gawker.com. Heather Armstrong with Dooce.com. And John Hinderaker of Conservativepowerlinelog.com, and Omar Wasow who's the co-founder of Blackplanet.com. You and all of your readers have thoughts about who should be the "Person of the Year." who would you pick?

STEVE CLEMONS, INTERNET BLOGGER: In my case, I like the diabolical guys, and I would pick Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong Il. It has not been a year of a bad guy in a long time.

O'BRIEN: It hasn't been year of the bad guy in a really long time. Do you think that is intentional or not?

CLEMONS: I think people look at the "Person of the Year" as uplifting, inspirational kind of opportunity and it is around the time of Christmas and the holidays, Hanukkah, they want think good things.

OMAR WASOW, INTERNET BLOGGER: But the other challenge is not that it is the holiday season, but that Americans are kind of provincial in the sense that we want to talk about other Americans or talk about things like technologies and Kim Jong il; I voted for him as person of the year on our site on our poll on Blackplanet. Four percent of people voted for him. And it's just-

O'BRIEN: That is because he is not black.

WASOW: Rumor has it. I've got breaking news.

O'BRIEN: Who would you pick, Heather?

HEATHER ARMSTRONG, INTERNET BLOGGER: My readers are mostly women and mothers, and so there is a wide variety I think of who should be mentioned in this, and one would be Nancy Pelosi for sure.

It is a huge step for women and I think it represents a change.

JOHN HINDERAKER, INTERNET BLOGGER: Well, I think we tend to overrate politics when we talk about the person of the year. This year I think that the phenomenon that occurred that is visible is viral video. And I would nominate the founders of YouTube as the people who had the biggest impact in 2006.

WASOW: And when we did a poll on Black Planet we found that the number two most popular vote was for YouTube at 30 percent following Barack Obama at 52 percent.

CHRIS MOHNEY, INTERNET BLOGGER: I think your first nomination saying viral video itself, not even necessarily just YouTube is going to have a larger impact.

O'BRIEN: You could also mention web blogs in general. The tools that people are putting out for the average citizen to stand up on a soap box and talk from their living room has empowered our nation almost more than anything right now.

MOHNEY: There hasn't been a single personality I think, that has been in the news or been driving events all year long.

ARMSTRONG: It's not clear.

HINDERAKER: You can talk about the election, but here, again, it is hard to pick one outstanding individual who is driving that.

CLEMONS: It is not a popularity contest. Right now if you were to go out there beyond the American voter, Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi and John Murtha; these all rank very high on my blog, I don't think any of them will necessarily become the person of the year.

ARMSTRONG: Even through the elections I didn't get much e-mail asking what I thought about what was going on, but I got thousands of e-mails asking me what I thought about when Britney Spears filed the divorce papers for Kevin Federline. HINDERAKER: I really think that if you were going to pick a person of the year based on the 2006 mid-term election, the most logical candidate is Mark Foley.

CLEMONS: Well, a lot of my readers have talked about Foley, but talked about again, a generic case of the scandal, so the Abramoff scandal, Tom DeLay, many of the others as being the drivers of American politics today, which is, I think another interesting way to look at that.

MOHNEY: I would buy that because that goes beyond politics and scandal as always, especially this past year, it seems, has been universally interesting.

ARMSTRONG: Talking about scandal, Madonna's adoption in Malawi has brought so much attention to adoption as you said that it's almost become a fad, but it is not a bad fad to be involved with.

WASOW: You could do global warming as something that was sort of in the news a lot. An when you saw some degree of kind of change in public perception, I think-

O'BRIEN: Does that become global warming and Al Gore? Global warming Al Gore alone? What is it?

HINDERAKER: With all due respect, Al Gore was not the man of the year. Okay, not this year.

CLEMONS: No, I understand that, but what is interesting is when you go out and poll the world, Al Gore comes up hugely in a way that would not have happened last year and it is, I think, related to global warming. He's become the personification here in American politics of those concerns.

O'BRIEN: You have a similar thing with your website's first choice, Barack Obama.

WASOW: Yes, 2006 is not necessarily his year. I mean getting a book deal and doing a book tour does not quite rise to the level of "Person of the Year" I can see.

O'BRIEN: Buzz does not equal "Person of the Year" otherwise you get Suri Cruise as your "Time Person of the Year" which I think Gawkers might go with this year.

ARMSTRONG: I think that we should talk about Steven Colbert as well.

CLEMONS: And then literally I've had 70, 80 people email in Colbert and Jon Stewart.

HINDERAKER: I would love to do someone from the arts, but I don't think that Britney Spears or Steven Colbert is quite the right person.

WASOW: If Britney Spears adopted a child in Malawi and ran for office, then we'd have a story.

O'BRIEN: Who do you think would be the gutsy choice?

HINDERAKER: I think the bad guys. You can't avoid the Nasrallahs the Hugo Chavez the Ahmadinejads, the Kim Jong ils, and we are not looking at just one bad guy or terrorist, we're looking at a world that is redefining itself.

WASOW: But if you wanted to embody all of that at somebody that might still sell some covers, I think you would put Rumsfeld on.

O'BRIEN: What about doing as an idea the war in Iraq?

HINDERAKER: Obviously it's been an important series of events over the course of the year, but I don't know what person really exemplifies that.

WASOW: Not Rumsfeld?

HINDERAKER: Could be Rumsfeld.

O'BRIEN: How do your readers differ from the readers of "Time" magazine?

CLEMONS: There is a huge population now reading the blogs and in that you have got every kind of reader. And I don't think it is generational, which I used to. No, it is not a bunch of young people anymore.

ARMSTRONG: I don't think the readers of "Time" magazine are necessarily different than the readers who are on our website. I think they come to "Time" for different reasons than they come to our websites. And that they are coming for our singular voice and our singular point of view.

WASOW: Part of what is happening in media is that it is splintering into a thousand different voices and so we all have our own "Person of the Year."

O'BRIEN: Now you are all very well aware of course, that "Time" magazine is not listening to each and any one of us on this issue at all. They are going to make their decision and just tell us what it is. But I want to thank you for your input. I really appreciate it.

Next, back inside "Time" where they are closing in on a decision.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is has been three weeks since the editorial meeting and the world has the changed in a lot of ways and in a funny way it's both clarifying for us and complicated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the person or the group of the year is the recently elected Democratic Congress.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would have to go with Saddam Hussein. This is a man who managed to change the balance of power from Republican Party to the Democratic Party.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ahmadinejad from Iran.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would have to say Donald Rumsfeld.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mrs. Clinton. I think she has done a fantastic job and I would like to see her run for the President of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Britney Spears should be the person of the year, because she finally dumped K-Fed.

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LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: My selections for "Time's Persons of the Year" are Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. Who else?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it would have to be Mark Foley.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Negative things come to mind immediately \Kim in North Korea and Saddam in Iraq.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I really admire President Bush, because I feel he has made a lot of good decisions for America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cindy Sheehan should be the person of the year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think Katie Couric should be on the cover.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it should be Angelina Jolie because she is a humanitarian and he's the first celebrity (inaudible).

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O'BRIEN: Just after Thanksgiving "Time's" managing editor narrowed the list of contenders to "Person of the Year" to three. One of the finalists came as a bit of a surprise. The name that, until then, had not even been in the running.

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RICHARD STENGEL, MANAGING EDITOR "TIME" MAGAZINE: A late-breaking entry into the P.O.Y. Sweep takes, the idea would be Hu Jintao would be Person of the Year and it's the rise of Chinese power. That this year was a real tipping point for China potentially becoming the great superpower of the 21st century. You and I, Michael were talking about this, and you wrote a very persuasive memo.

MICHAEL ELLIOTT, INTERNATIONAL EDITOR: China's view of the world was increasingly one that affected all of us. It affected the United States, it affected Europe, affected everyone else. And this is only going to grow. And the person who symbolizes this is the President of China, Hu Jintao. STENGEL: That is part of the thing that makes the story potentially interesting. A to find out what he is really like, but B, to say he is a proxy for this whole phenomenon.

ADI IGNATIUS, EXECUTIVE EDITOR,"TIME" MAGAZINE: You know the other big story for the last couple of years has been the rise of unrest, and I mean, the state used to really repress pretty much everything.

STEPHEN KOEPP, DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR: This is so unlikely in a year when we have a war in Iraq, and all eyes are focused on the Middle East. We could make a case to readers that while all of the attention was focused here; in fact, there is this other story that is happening quietly that you don't know about.

ELLIOTT: This is probably not the best analogy, but it is like watching a piece of metal rust. You know, I mean, the kind of [laughter]

You know the rise of China is one of those things that happens slowly and incrementally.

STENGEL: This is about a story that will grow and expand and be important to all of our lives for the rest of our lives, so what are the different paths going on.

HOWARD CHUA-EOAN, NEWS DIRECTOR: Well, pursuing the interview with Hu is a very tough get.

ELLIOTT: He has never given an interview to a western publication, ever.

KOEPP: Well one idea that, I think, your story needs to explore is that stylistically China excerpting itself and projecting its power on the world stage is different from a lot of other countries.

ELLIOTT: The truth of the matter is, you know, now the third largest economy in the world, and the economic power is global and is changing the shape of the world in all sorts of ways.

ARTHUR HOCHSTEIN, CREATIVE DIRECTOR: I am the creative director and Rick came to me about a week ago and said we have these three or four topics and I want you to start thinking about them and so immediately went into action and started producing things.

ELLIOTT: The challenge with putting Hu Jintao on the cover I think is to somehow introduce people to someone whose face they don't know, but at the same time saying this is really about China.

HOCHSTEIN: He's been a mysterious figure a bit, even though he is well established. This is a line we would probably not end up with, but I said "All of the world is a stage and he is player".

ELLIOTT: When we put someone as "Person of the Year" that people don't know, I think it actually makes people interested in finding out more about that person. We need to make sure that we are getting it all done in time so that we have the option of choosing him.

User-generated content and what I would love to do is to discuss what is working and what is not working and how the whole package is going.

KEOPP: It is really a passage of power from the few to the many, and this is democracy with a small d.

ELLIOTT: And it is all putting us in jeopardy, because we are the old-fashioned voice of authority and people are taking the means of communication into their own hands.

LEV GROSSMAN, STAFF WRITER: And one thing I liked about the story is that it is kind of a positive story. I mean, the news this year has been about conflict and divisiveness and war but if you look at the big picture, there is a lot of on a global scale, unification going on. Of people coming to understand one another in a sort of new way.

ELLIOTT: So the opening essay is --

GROSSMAN: Yes the sketches out to scale of this is happening in different spheres and cultural and economic and social and political.

KOEPP: We have fanned out across the globe and we have picked these remarkable folks who are generating content and we have got for example, we have got a photographer in Pakistan who has put up his pictures on flicker and has this large following. And we've got a soldier, blogger, who is telling about all of his experiences.

JAY COLTON, ASSOCIATE PICTURE EDITOR: During the Lebanon war also some of the most compelling footage came from people on their little cell phone cameras.

ELLIOTT: Well, you could argue that if that had been available like it in the Vietnam War and other conflicts that would have changed the perception.

KOEPP: YouTube is the model I think that people really understand and get. So our profile of the founders of YouTube is a key part of this whole package.

JOHN CLOUD, STAFF WRITER: You know, the sort of two things that we have that haven't been told before or sort of the true story of the founding of YouTube which is definitely Chad Hurley and Steve Chin, but also Jed Kareem (ph) who is the third founder, but there is now some bad blood between the two camps, because Jeb left to go to Stanford and these guys stayed on to build the company into what it is. And so the second batch of this is just the personal lives of these guys. I went over to Chad's house and we had burritos for dinner. Steve still driving his old crappy Jeep Wrangler.

HOCHSTEIN The cover posed a lot of interesting challenges and on this one we went straight at it with the guys who were the founders of YouTube. But the video wall was composed by gathering all of these YouTube images.

ELLIOTT: So, Josh, you are doing the sort of end piece?

JOSH TYRANGIEL, MANAGING EDITOR, and TIME.COM: Well, I don't know exactly where it would fall within the package, but, my thought is that as cliche as it become this notion that everybody will be world famous for 15 minutes, has anybody been more right about anything, ever? Like we are all basically in his very weird way, peered into the future and nailed it.

ELLIOTT: Well it all sounds fabulous. We'll start looking at things on the page pretty soon and start figuring out how big it should be and whether it ought to be "Person of the Year." President Ahmadinejad and the rise of Shiite power. What I love about the possibility of Ahmadinejad is that he does three things for us. He gets us to the war in Iraq, he gets us to the rise of Shiite powered and he gets us to nuclear proliferation. So let's go over the story list and kind of deconstruct it.

ELLIOTT: We need to remind people in the opening piece exactly who this guy with a slightly weird white jacket is.

KOEPP: And I think that is one of the attractions of him as a "Person of the Year". Globally, he is an icon.

ELLIOTT: Scott is in Tehran and has a request for an interview.

ROMESH RATNESAR, ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR: And I mean, we have got requests through different channels and we have fingers cross and we also have an essay assessing what the larger rise of Shiite power means.

MARTI GOLON, ART SPECIAL PROJECTS: We did commission an illustration actually a lovely painting by Mike Benny for that piece.

KOEPP: Not only Ahmadinejad but al Sadr and Nasrallah and it shows there is more than one guy going in similar directions.

ELLIOTT: We have already put Ahmadinejad on the cover. I would want to figure out some way that we could depict him in a way that is new and novel and arresting.

HOCHSTEIN: There are different ways of approaching a subject that we have already done. For instance if we did a photograph the last time we did him, we might do a paint or an illustration.

KOEPP: There is a lot of opportunity here to explain to people that we learned a lot about Iraq but don't know about its neighbor.

ELLIOTT: I mean, the thing about him that makes him a compelling possibility is that he is a vessel for so many of the ideas that have shaped the world this year in ways that we hadn't expected. Well, great.

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O'BRIEN: So, which of the final three will it be? When we come back, the "Person of the Year" for 2006. ELLIOTT: "Time's 2006 Person of the Year" is -

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O'BRIEN: And now for the moment that you have all been waiting for. You heard "Time" staffers talk about some of the biggest names in the news. It's a tough call to decide who or what had the biggest impact in 2006, so straight to the man who makes the decision. Rick, who is it?

ELLIOTT: "Time's 2006 person of the year is - you!

O'BRIEN: Literally me?

ELLIOTT: Yes, you, me, everyone. Everyone who has transforming the information age by creating and consuming content. You know, I felt that in a very profound way something in the world changed this way that there was a ebbing of power from the few to the many, and big media companies like ours were in fact not in control anymore and it is a great new digital democracy.

O'BRIEN: Once you come up with the idea, how did you get to this particular cover?

ELLIOTT: We knew we wanted to do something that was interactive so we came up with this idea of Mylar, and our genius art director mocked it up in 20 minutes and everybody said, wow, that it is.

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HOCHSTEIN: The user-generated content cover posed a lot of really interesting challenges. Because of the topic, you wanted to do something that actually might feel interactive. The creative trick was to figure out how to use a piece of Mylar that has a very specific size and proportion and leverage that in the maximum way on the cover and have it make sense rather than looking like something that we gratuitously stuck on for fun. It makes sense graphically and intellectually.

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O'BRIEN: How literally do you make a cover like this? I know you didn't glue on little bits of Mylar on in your office.

ELLIOTT: We actually had to print the background and then the Mylar was put on individually on each cover. I wanted people to feel like they had some investment in this. That they themselves were creating this new information age. There was no better symbol of that then actually having that mirror image on the cover reflecting the reader's image reflect back at him and her and we are making magazine history by putting a cover out like this.

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HOCHSTEIN: This particular approach has never been done before on this scale that I am aware of. The big thing with us, was the number of copies that we print, and also the fact that they are international distribution on these copies, so it was a real logistical feet just to get to the point where we decided if we could even make a run for it.

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O'BRIEN: How do you think people are going to react when they see it on the newsstands?

ELLIOTT: I think they are going to be thrilled and pleased and happy and feel like wow, is that really me or what does that represent?

O'BRIEN: In a little way it reminds you of the 1982 cover, a computer.

ELLIOTT: Right, in a way, this is next generation where people are creating content, YouTube, Face Book, Wikipedia. There has been a radical change in the way information is created. It is absolutely very forward-looking and the other thing that put it over the top for me is that web 2.0, interactive technology and user-generated content is the vessel for all of the stories of the year from the soldiers in Iraq blogging and putting up videos on YouTube, to the shaping of the mid-term elections with the Macaca moment.

O'BRIEN: Looks good. Are you proud of it?

ELLIOTT: Very proud of it.

O'BRIEN: Do you think that it stands the test of time so that in five years or ten years you feel as good about this cover as you do today?

ELLIOTT: Yes, I think it will certainly stand the test of time and people will say, wow, "Time" magazine was recognizing this sea change in the world the way the information age has changed. People will look at that years from now and say, wow they were on to something, and the world is different now.

O'BRIEN: Congratulations on the cover and of course, thank you for talking to us.

ELLIOTT: And Soledad, it won't be you next year.

O'BRIEN: Darn. Thank you to all of you for watching.

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