Why Was Julian Assange Removed From Time's 'Person of the Year' List?

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A few weeks ago, Time magazine had made a giant list of potential "Person of the Year" candidates. Tens of thousands of people voted, and for most of the duration of the voting, the top vote-getter was Wikileaks' Julian Assange.

Well, now the finalists are out, and guess what: Julian Assange is not there.

Time's Person of the Year 2016 Shortlist

Time has been doing "Person of the Year" lists for nearly 100 years -- since 1927.

And they've picked some controversial people, including Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin (yes, that is true). They even considered picking Osama Bin Laden in 2001, although they ended up going with Rudy Giuliani (more on that later).

But it appears Julian Assange was too much for them.

For much of the 2016 "Person of the Year" voting, Assange was the top pick of readers. Toward the end, India's new Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, edged Assange out (unsurprisingly, as Modi now heads a country with over 1 billion people).

Nevertheless, now Time is out with their "shortlist." And who is on it? Well, Modi is on it, as are Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Nigel Farage, and Vladimir Putin.

And it's not all world leaders: Mark Zuckerberg is on the list, along with Simone Biles, and even Beyonce. Assange, however, is missing.

It turns out that Assange was also in the running for "Person of the Year" in 2010. At the time, Time wrote this:

In 2010, WikiLeaks became a revolutionary force, wresting secrets into the public domain on a scale without precedent. Assange and company wrought deep disruptions in the marketplace of state power, much as tech-savvy insurgents before them had disrupted markets in music, film and publishing. The currency of information, scattered to the four corners of the globe, is roiling not only U.S. foreign relations but also the alliances and internal politics of other nations.

Yet, in 2010, they ended up picking Mark Zuckerberg (who, coincidentally, is again on the list this year). Now, in 2016, they're again shunning Assange.

Why Did Time Quietly Remove Assange from the List?

So why does Time not want Assange to be associated with "Person of the Year"? While we don't know for sure, there are clues from what has happened in the past.

In 1979, Time chose Ayatollah Khomeini as its person of the year. Their explanation was this:

Yet in 1979 the lean figure of the Ayatullah Ruhollah Khomeini towered malignly over the globe. As the leader of Iran's revolution he gave the 20th century world a frightening lesson in the shattering power of irrationality, of the ease with which terrorism can be adopted as government policy. As the new year neared, 50 of the American hostages seized on Nov. 4 by a mob of students were still inside the captured U.S. embassy in Tehran, facing the prospect of being tried as spies by Khomeini's revolutionary courts.

But the backlash was fast and huge.

Even though Time has always made it very clear that the "Person of the Year" doesn't necessarily have to be known for doing a "good" thing, Americans were NOT happy with the choice of Khomeini.

And this seems to have scared the editors, as Forbes noted in 2010:

But that's only how it works in principle. In practice, ever since the magazine encountered an unexpected backlash for making Ayatollah Khomeini its Man of the Year in 1979, the editors have been awfully skittish about naming a "bad guy" as POY. Many times, this works out just fine. Occasionally, however, it results in an obvious cop-out, as when Rudy Giuliani rather than Osama bin Laden was chosen for 2001. The closest Time has come in recent years to picking a "bad" POY was in 2007, when the "not always benign" Vladimir Putin made the cover.

In 2001, Time's pick of Giuliani over Bin Laden (who clearly had a bigger, but very negative, impact on the world) made it clear that they were considering whether someone had done things that were "good" or "bad" (in their opinion) when choosing a "Person of the Year." And it looks like Assange may have landed on the wrong side.

So did Time remove Julian Assange from their shortlist again this year because they're scared of the backlash? We don't know for sure, but it sure looks like that was at least a factor.

What do you think? Tweet us.

Wanna read more on this? Check these out: Trump's 'Horns': The Truth About Time's 'Person of the Year' Cover (more); Gavin MacFadyen (MacFayden): The Mysterious Death of Another Wikileaks Associate (more); Wikileaks Proves Julian Assange Is Alive, Contradicts Alex Jones, Drudge (more); Is Julian Assange Alive? The Wikileaks Mystery Deepens (more).