By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – We live in an award-saturated culture, and like so many of the award shows that sprout like daffodils in mid-April, Time Magazine’s annual 100 Most Influential People is essentially a publicity stunt.

“It’s not a lifetime achievement award, it’s about people who shaped the year, changed the year, stood up, stood out,” says Time Editor-In-Chief Edward Felsenthal.

And it doesn’t hurt to be a photogenic movie star, either. Hello, Sandra Oh and The Rock!

But when it comes to domestic political leaders, Time’s choices and the reasons behind them seem suspect at times

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was an obvious selection, but rookie Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? In a Time testimonial, Senator Elizabeth Warren writes that “millions are taking cues from her.”

Really? She certainly gets a ton of publicity, but it seems a bit soon to label her a significant political influencer.

And could Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein have been a tad premature when he wrote of his boss, Attorney General William Barr, that with him at the helm “the rule of law is secure”?

We may know more about that after the Mueller report is released Thursday.

And what possessed Time’s editors to print Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s claim that the nomination hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh revealed “his undeterred reverence for the law, for precedents and for our nation’s highest traditions”?

I suppose it’s hard for a mass-market magazine like Time to showcase the more obscure people who influence our civic life arguably more than the big names, people like mayors, governors, and activists.

After all, obscure people don’t sell magazines.

Jon Keller

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