“I’ve never seen so much agreement about who had the most influence,” Gibbs said. “I don’t think that we have ever seen one person operating in such an unconventional way have an impact on events of the year quite like this.”
Trump called into the “Today” show following the announcement.
“It means a lot. It’s a very important magazine,” he said. “I consider this a very, very great honor.”
But Trump is less than pleased with the magazine’s cover description of him as the “President of the Divided States of America.”
“I think putting ‘divided’ is snarky,” he said. “I’m not president yet, so I didn’t do anything to divide.”
Photographer Nadav Kander said he was inspired by “iconic portrait sittings” from history when he designed the cover photo.
“Upon arriving at Trump’s residence, I wanted to integrate a detail from his environment into the photograph,” Kander told The Huffington Post. “I tried a few set ups, but this image of President-elect Trump in his chair stood out as the cover. The importance of this picture rests on the fact that we are at a crossroad in history.”
Trump’s significant impact on the media landscape is undeniable. His controversial politics, reality TV presence and inflammatory comments led to record-breaking coverage. In March, media coverage tracking firm mediaQuant found he had earned nearly $2 billion worth of free media over the course of his presidential campaign.
The publication’s annual selection is determined by Time magazine editors and highlights a person, group, idea or object that had the most influence on news that year. The tradition began in 1927 with the selection of the celebrated aviator Charles Lindbergh.
Gibbs wrote about the decision on Time’s website:
For reminding America that demagoguery feeds on despair and that truth is only as powerful as the trust in those who speak it, for empowering a hidden electorate by mainstreaming its furies and live-streaming its fears, and for framing tomorrow’s political culture by demolishing yesterday’s, Donald Trump is TIME’s 2016 Person of the Year.
Time’s 2016 shortlist of nominees was revealed on the “Today” show Monday. Others on the list included record-breaking Rio Olympics gymnast Simone Biles, music superstar Beyoncé, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Time named Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi the winner of the 2016 readers’ poll on Monday. He previously won the same poll in 2014.
Last year’s winner was German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the first individual woman to be chosen as Person of the Year since 1986. Other past winners include Pope Francis, President Barack Obama, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler and The Computer.
This article has been updated to include new details, including reactions to Trump winning.
Jenna Amatulli contributed reporting.