REVEALED: The Person of the Year Is Edward Snowden

A blog about business and economics.
Dec. 10 2013 2:19 PM

REVEALED: The Person of the Year Is Edward Snowden

It's official.

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

As you know, ever since 1927 Slate's Moneybox column has annually designated a "Man of The Year," with the title changed in 1999 to "Person" of the year but in practice it's almost always a man because patriarchy. It's an honor bestowed not necessarily on the best person of the year, but on the most influential figure. The one who's touched the largest number of people in the most profound way.

At times that goes to a person of mixed reputation like 1931 winner Wallis Simpson, who upended the British monarchy. At times we've even been accused of "trolling" or "Slatepitches," as when we picked Adolf Hitler in 1938 and Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979.


So when I tell you that Edward Snowden is 2013's Person of the Year, don't necessarily take that as an endorsement of all his views and everything he's done. But there's no doubt that his actions have had broad significance, upending German politics and technology companies' business strategies. Snowden's revelations and his controversial flight to Russia bring together the defining trends of our era—social media and the continued legacy of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Our committee did seriously consider other contenders, including the new Pope. But since Catholics everywhere have decided to act pissy about non-Catholics who are excited about the new Pope, insisting that all Popes have always said this stuff and it's all just a huge misunderstanding to think there's anything novel about him, we decided to snub the guy. The snub will probably provoke whining of its own, but that's what you get. Also, homilies are nice, but Snowden has impacted the course of history in concrete, tangible ways. If someone from inside the Church wants to leak the real dirt on the Vatican Bank next year, we'll consider giving that guy the prize.

For Slate's complete Snowden coverage, use Google like a sensible person.

Update: No! Wait! We have have a really good search function now!

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.


War Stories

The Right Target

Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.

The One National Holiday Republicans Hope You Forget

It’s Legal for Obama to Bomb Syria Because He Says It Is

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

Should You Recline Your Seat? Two Economists Weigh In.


It Is Very, Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Or, why it is very, very stupid to compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice.

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

Why Is This Mother in Prison for Helping Her Daughter Get an Abortion?

The Only Good Thing That Happened at Today’s Soul-Crushing U.N. Climate Talks

  News & Politics
Sept. 23 2014 6:40 PM Coalition of the Presentable Don’t believe the official version. Meet America’s real allies in the fight against ISIS.
Sept. 23 2014 2:08 PM Home Depot’s Former Lead Security Engineer Had a Legacy of Sabotage
Sept. 23 2014 1:57 PM Would a Second Sarkozy Presidency End Marriage Equality in France?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 2:32 PM Politico Asks: Why Is Gabby Giffords So “Ruthless” on Gun Control?
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Sept. 23 2014 3:04 PM Chicago Gabfest How to get your tickets before anyone else.
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 4:45 PM Why Is Autumn the Only Season With Two Names?
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 5:36 PM This Climate Change Poem Moved World Leaders to Tears Today
  Health & Science
Sept. 23 2014 4:33 PM Who Deserves Those 4 Inches of Airplane Seat Space? An investigation into the economics of reclining.
Sports Nut
Sept. 23 2014 7:27 PM You’re Fired, Roger Goodell If the commissioner gets the ax, the NFL would still need a better justice system. What would that look like?