Judging Time By Its Covers

Time magazine covers of President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden.

Example of Media Bias:

Liberals in the media will often say that bias is in the eye of the beholder.

But week after week, the cover of Time magazine portrays Donald Trump [in a negative light].

Democrats, in contrast, are routinely featured as smiling, happy, reassuring figures.

Time magazine covers of Donald Trump (L) and Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders (R).


Time magazine covers of President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana and his husband ­Chasten.

And while less and less Americans actually buy the weekly publication, the magazine still impacts the public debate as it’s featured in other media outlets and seen in grocery stores by millions of Americans.

…Media Research Center analysts looked at every Time cover since Trump took office in January of 2017. The magazine has portrayed the President as a dictatorial monarch, someone screaming with his hair on fire and a man literally drowning in the Oval Office.

Time magazine covers of President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris.

In comparison, Time covers of Democrats have featured a smiling, optimistic Bernie Sanders, a forward-thinking Elizabeth Warren and a flattering picture of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with the headline “The Phenom.”

Time magazine covers of President Donald Trump and Democratic socialist Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

See a video montage of the covers here:


Are they all bad? No. Since January 2017, a few featured a postive image, such as this July 1, 2019 exclusive Time interview with Trump:

[A positive photo – or an unflattering or negative photo – can unfairly affect a reader’s perception of a person. In this case, Time magazine runs flattering cover photos of Democratic presidential candidates while portraying President Trump most of the time in a very negative light.

The importance of a decent photo of a public figure is that most people don’t read every article, or every word of every article; they often just skim the headline accompanying the picture, especially on magazine covers.

The image(s) an editor chooses to accompany an article can shape the average viewer’s opinions (especially one who is uninformed) on a particular event or person.]

(by Scott Whitlock, Newsbusters, Dec. 16. Video created by MRC analyst Bill D’Agostino.)

Identifying Media Bias

To accurately identify different types of bias, you should be aware of the issues of the day, and the liberal and conservative perspectives on each issue.

Types of Media Bias:


1. What type of bias are the Time magazine covers an example of?

2. Why do you think Time magazine chooses to regularly portray President Trump in an unflattering, negative light, while only using flattering, positive photos of his Democratic challengers or Democrats in Congress?

Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the answers.


1. The photos are bias by spin.

2. Opinion question. Answers vary.