Time Magazine's "America's Weak and Waffling" Cover Not Featured in America


Time magazine featured a critique of the United States' foreign policy and an image of Russian President Vladimir Putin on the cover of its September 16th edition. American readers did not see the critique, which ran throughout the rest of the world. The U.S. edition focused instead on college football.

Credit: Screencap,

The international edition, which is divided into three regions (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa; Asia; and the South Pacific) all declare "America's weak and waffling, Russia's rich and resurgent." In the U.S, Time's cover states, "It's Time To Pay College Athletes." The Putin story is tucked in the corner and neutrally retitled, "What Putin Wants."

Neil Munro of the Daily Caller insists that the magazine is deliberately "shielding Americans from the demoralizing picture… safely overlook[ing] a widely perceived fumble by President Barack Obama that left Russia to carry the ball in the Syrian war."

The Atlantic's Philip Bump sarcastically questions, "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)?" The article goes on to defend the practice: "Time, an American magazine, has America-specific features all the time… This isn't a conspiracy; it's marketing."

Yet, the article about Putin is America-specific in its subtitle, and mentions the U.S. another four times in the first three paragraphs.

Bump is correct in that the international editions pay no heed to American football. However, they do feature an article about China's space program that is not even in the American magazine. The article, "Under a Chinese Moon," is quick to reference the U.S. The subtitle states, "Beijing's commitment to manned space flight is a reminder of what the U.S. could once do." The piece begins with a harsh take on the U.S.:

Want to hear a piece of utter non-news? The U.S. is sending an unmanned spacecraft to the moon this month. Want to hear a piece of very big news? China is sending an unmanned spacecraft to the moon this year. That expedition is huge, even cosmically game changing. More to the point, it's perfectly legit to respond to such similar missions in such dissimilar ways.

As BuzzFeed acknowledges, covers are typically the same across the board. However, the site presents comparisons of various editions that inexplicably leave American readers out of the discussion of hot-button issues, even ones that directly involve the U.S. These include covers that read, "Why the U.S. Will Never Save Afghanistan," and describe the "squandered hope" of America's military efforts. Others ranging in coverage from China's industrial power, to Europe's economic stability, and civil unrest in Pakistan are replaced with lighthearted images like school children and house pets for the U.S. audience. 

NEXT: Cop Shoots Accident Victim and Is Quickly Charged; Which Part Is More Amazing?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

    1. People in Europe?

      Sounds a little more interesting there.

      1. Lufthansa (and I’m sure many other airlines) hands out magazines to business class travelers, and Time is one of them you can choose from. I’d be curious to see which version of this week’s cover they’re handing out outbound from the US and inbound to the US.

        1. Americans are just as likely to be on returning flights as departing ones. Plus I doubt they would switch magazine stores between flights.

    2. TIME Magazine: Still Relevant to Dentists’ Waiting Rooms!

  1. Neil Munro of the Daily Caller insists that the magazine is deliberately “shielding Americans from the demoralizing picture… safely overlook[ing] a widely perceived fumble by President Barack Obama that left Russia to carry the ball in the Syrian war.”

    Can’t be. I have been told that Obama handled Syria like a fox.

    It’s been awesome to watch today as all the jerking knees quieted a little and all the instant judgments of the past month ceded to a deeper acknowledgment (even among Republicans) of what had actually been substantively achieved: something that, if it pans out, might be truly called a breakthrough ? not just in terms of Syria, but also in terms of a better international system, and in terms of Iran.

    1. Whoever (whomever? fuck it) does the artwork on that page looks to be the same artists that did Suck magazine.

      1. Terry Colon does illustrations for a lot of places, including Cavanaugh and Beato’s columns in reason.

        He did a good job of capturing Sullivan’s smug cluelessness.

      2. “whoever”

        it’s not hard.

        1. “Whoever” sounds and sounded right for the first forty… some years of my life, now I question it. I don’t know why.

    2. Sullivan deserves a gold medal in gymnastics for his tireless contortions to prove that Obama has never made a mistake.

      1. I wonder sometimes if Shreek is not a sock puppet for Sullivan. Sullivan is just strange enough to do something like that.

          1. While I would find that delightful I’m curious to know why you think it a possibility?

        1. I wonder sometimes if Shreek is not a sock puppet for Sullivan. Sullivan is just strange enough to do something like that.

          Jesus! Oh…. my….. god…..

          The fixation with Palin’s privates, the homoerotic/homophobic references, the insanity, it is actually plausible!

        2. That’s retarded, John. Shreek is 11,000% libertarian. Why else would it continue to post here?

        3. Sometimes John sees through the nether and just makes it make sense.

    3. Sullivan is such a sad sick little man. What a weirdo. Regardless of what you think of rightwing writers, they seem to be reasonably normal and lead normal lives. The same cannot be said of their leftist colleagues. What the hell kind of a movement attracts people like Sullivan and Sad Beard?

      1. Something Bigger Than Themselves, John.

    4. That man makes me regret that I chose to use my name and last initial as a username here.

  2. America used to value having a strong leader who “doesn’t care what the world thinks of him.”

    I didn’t stay on the Time site long enough to see if that’s one of “10 Questions for Yoko Ono.”

  3. America is just too racist to be able to handle criticism of the Light Worker in Chief. We can’t have bored people in doctor’s office waiting rooms reading criticism of Obama. They won’t be able to handle it and it will just give them an excuse to be racist.


    The Editors of Time.

  4. People still read Time?

    Why would they bother paying someone to come up (and publish!) two different covers when they’re already losing money just by printing it?

  5. “Ti-i-ime is on my side. yes it is”

    1. Obama’s got the real love
      The kind that you need
      You’ll come running back
      You’ll come running back
      (yes you will America)
      to h-i–m.

  6. I’m having hard time giving a shit about Time magazine. Wait… no nevermind, that was just gas.

    1. “Chore Wars”…..heh! Time: the arbiter of all things American

  7. That’s weird. All of the great pictures of Putin looking like some awesome Bond villain, and they use that one? That’s the real scandal.

    1. And of all the great photos of college athletes they could have used we get the one of the crotch shot of the Heisman pose

      1. Right? My first thought when I saw that was, “Great. Johnny Football upskirt.”

        Who edits that turd rag, anyway?

    2. I would’ve ran the one of him judo tossing some kid.

  8. You know who else’s image Time Magazine was going to feature on its cover but didn’t?

    1. Yes. Tim Tebow, with the line, “What do you think of your god, now?”

  9. It’s time to pay college athletes? (On the alternate US cover.) I guess Oklahoma State was ahead of their time!

    As if a full ride scholarship isn’t “pay”.

    1. They should be able to sell their own merch, autographs, and get appearance fees, etc. without it being an NCAA violation. A scholarship is a great compensation for the third string TE. But a star QB, who could make extra money for selling an autograph, should be able to do so. This is America after all. Get paid.

      1. Look, if the star QB can trade his sneakers for a tattoo then the resulting costs of shoe inflation necessary to attract top talent at FBS schools will lead to less scholarships for the other sports. Why do you hate gymnasts?

    2. Oh, boy, here we go…

    3. I would consider that pay. But it’s fucked up for the schools to make money off of their likenesses without some kind of compensation.

  10. Many years ago, Street and Smith’s pre-season football mag ran a cover predicting the Minnesota Vikings to finish first in their division (even though everyone knew they sucked).

    Inside the mag, they predicted the Vikes finishing fourth in the division.

    1. It was obviously a regional cover, trying to get the local homers to buy the mag.

      First time I was aware of that practice.

  11. I don’t see any difference. they all have an assh%#le in the center…..azine.html

  12. Russia’s rich and resurgent

    1) They’re not rich. Their economy makes America’s look great.

    2) They’re not resurgent. This little snafu aside, Russia is losing Syria. This is a few years after they barely won a war against Georgia. They can’t pacify Chechnya or its neighbors. Their reliance on natgas is going to kill them because the world has oodles of the stuff. Russia is at odds with almost all of its neighbors in one way or another.

  13. This isn’t a conspiracy; it’s marketing.

    Maybe that’s true. MSNBC undoubtedly takes a progressive stance to market to progressives, just as Fox News takes a conservative stance to market to conservatives, and HLN takes an idiotic stance to market to idiots.

    But last I checked, Time at least tried to market itself as a substantive news magazine that dealt with important issues.

    1. Well they can’t be trusted to report any issues of the day honestly which may be why americans only buy their mags when there are puppies ob the cover. Whenever I would have to do a paper in schooln and was looking for references, Time was always the most one sided and sensational of any of the news mags. US News and World Report blew then away although I think they’ve gone done hill since then. Too many brainwashed kids coming out of journalism school I guess.

      1. I dunno, USNews was already pretty laughable when I was looking for cards for debate club in the early 90s.

        1. Yeah, I’m a little older:)

  14. I can’t believe that many people care about minor league football.

    1. Nice 🙂

    2. I used to follow actual minor league football. Now I coach kiddie league football.

  15. it’s perfectly legit to respond to such similar missions in such dissimilar ways.

    This… this was in a Serious, Respected periodical?

  16. Does anyone else here think that between Snowden and Syria, Putin is gunning for a Nobel Peace Prize. Or at least Time’s Man of the Year?

    1. I think he has more merit than Obama for both, and without actively trying.

  17. I’m sure Time was saving Americans from these depressing headlines just as often when Bush was President.

  18. Holy shit, international Time is as anti-American as al-Jazeera.

    The fawning over Russia’s “wealth” is especially telling. Most people in Russia are poor as fuck, and once energy prices go down Russia’s going down with them.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.