Is 'Time' sending a secret message with its Donald Trump Person of the Year cover?


On Wednesday, Time magazine revealed its selection for the publication's annual Person of the Year honor: President-elect Donald Trump. The magazine's choice immediately spurred outrage, eyerolls — and wild conspiracy theories about secret meanings behind the cover photo.

Is there a hidden Hitler comparison?

Some on social media have already pointed out that Trump, in his cover for the Person of the Year issue, is shown sitting in an armchair, posing with his head turned, looking somewhat reminiscent of an image of Adolf Hitler on the cover of Time. 

But, while Hitler was named as Time's 1938 Man of the Year, the cover of that issue, from January 1939, showed a sinister black and white illustration of Hitler from the back, drawn by Rudolph Von Ripper — not that seated portrait.


The image that some are comparing to Trump's cover, of Hitler posed in a chair, is actually from an April 1941 issue of the magazine, not from Hitler's Man of the Year cover — making a link between the two images even more tenuous. 

It's also worth noting that Time's Man of the Year cover for Hitler was clearly a critical portrayal, showing what the Orlando Sentinel called "Adolf Hitler and the Nazis controlling and looking on as victims dangled from St. Catherine's wheel," and accompanied by the caption "From the unholy organist, a hymn of hate."

Some people have leaned on the connection between Trump's seated pose and the covers featuring Hitler and French Prime Minister and Nazi sympathizer Pierre Laval, who was also depicted in an armchair when he was Time's 1931 Man of the Year. But, as mentioned above, the Time cover featuring Hitler seated in a chair wasn't the same issue in which he was named Man of the Year. 

If the only two Person of the Year covers with seated subjects were Laval and Trump, that might make a stronger case for an intentional connection, but 1933's Man of the Year Hugh Johnson was also seated in a chair, so was 1986 Woman of the Year Corazon Aquino and so were the bizarre statues that graced the cover of the 1982 issue that declared "the computer" the Machine of the Year.

Does Trump have "devil horns?"

Onto the next conspiracy theory — does Trump's Time cover show him with "devil horns" above his head? That's what some people seem to think, pointing out that the negative space under the "M" on the cover seems to make two triangles just above Trump's head.

Time itself actually addressed this theory on Wednesday, linking to a gallery of other covers that appeared to give subjects horns and saying that "Given the shape of the letter 'm' in the magazine's name and its location on the cover, many other subjects in the past have also appeared to sprout extra features. 

It's happened to Hillary Clinton at least twice. It's happened to Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, too," and adding "Any resemblance to cats, bats or devil horns is entirely coincidental."


Dec. 7, 3:09 p.m.: This story has been updated.