For some, the fact that Time even considered this was something of a scandal. The meaning of the title “Man of the Year” or “Person of the Year” gets lost on a lot of people who assume that it’s supposed to be an honor or an award. It’s actually just recognizes people for being important, not for being a good person. The Person of the Year is the person who “for better or for worse, …has done the most to influence the events of the year”. As we have mentioned before on this site, Hitler was the Man of the Year in 1938.
Ultimately, Time decided not to make Bin Laden the Man of the Year, even though he clearly influenced the events of 2001 more than anyone else (at least more than the actual Man of the Year, Rudy Giuliani). They decided to diminish the terrorist’s legacy instead. According to Time, “he is smaller than life, a garden-variety terrorist whose evil plan succeeded beyond his highest hopes”.