November was a good month for Donald Trump, to say the least. This week, Trump scored yet another win when he was selected as Time magazine’s “Person of the Year.” The honor was one Trump coveted; he complained when German Chancellor Angela Merkel was chosen over him in 2015. Now, however, the president-elect’s moment in the sun is being overshadowed by speculation that his cover photograph was staged to resemble the magazine’s 1941 cover which featured Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler.
Much of the speculation took place on Twitter, where users noted that Trump’s pose, in which he is seated in an armchair and half-turned to the camera, resembled Hitler’s pose on the 1941 cover. Others wondered if the M in the magazine’s name had been deliberately positioned over Trump’s head to resemble horns.
— Booooooom (@Booooooom) December 7, 2016
The photographer, Nadav Kander, released a statement that was cryptic regarding the Hitler similarities.
“For this commission, we were inspired by iconic portrait sittings throughout history,” Kander said. “Upon arriving at Trump’s residence, I wanted to integrate a detail from his environment into the photograph. 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.”
Furthermore, Politico’s Joe Pompeo confirms that the “Hitler-eque chair” was not used at Trump’s suggestion, giving some weight to the idea that the photographer was deliberating courting similarities to the older cover.
As for Trump himself, he appeared to be less concerned with comparisons to Hitler than he was with the cover’s implication that he was at fault for increasing divisiveness in America.
“I think putting divided is snarky,” Trump told Today this week. “But again it’s divided, I’m not president yet. I didn’t do anything to divide.”
While Trump told Today he considered being chosen as Person of the Year a “tremendous honor,” the choice is not necessarily a reflection of admiration but rather a statement on the impact of the individual in question. That much was made clear in a statement by Time explaining its decision. According to the magazine, it is “hard to measure the scale of [Trump’s] disruption.”
“Trump’s assault on truth and logic, far from hurting him, made him stronger,” the editors continued. “His appeal—part hope, part snarl—dissolved party lines and dispatched the two reigning dynasties of U.S. politics. Yet his victory mirrors the ascent of nationalists across the world, from Britain to the Philippines, and taps forces far more powerful than one man’s message.”