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Publication: Conservative Review
Who is Influential?

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                   May 9, 2008
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Who's Influential?
By Cal Thomas

Time magazine has published another one of those silly 
and meaningless lists some in the media occasionally and 
irritatingly compile to validate their self-importance. 
It is the 100 "most influential people in the world." I 
didn't make it, but then I don't make other lists like 
People magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive," which must be an 

Time never tells us what qualifies these people as in-
fluential. Dictionary.com defines influence as, "the 
capacity or power of persons or things to be a compell-
ing force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, 
opinions, etc., of others." 

Who on Time's list fits the definition of "influential"? 
Not Tim Russert, who is a terrific interviewer, but how 
much influence could he have at 11 a.m. on a Sunday morn-
ing when millions are in church? "If it's Sunday, it is 
'Meet the Press'" he signs off every week. No, if it's 
Sunday, for more people than watch his program, it is 

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Why is Mayor Michael Bloomberg on the list? Most of the 
world's people don't live in New York City, though on 
Friday afternoons while trying to escape by plane or car 
it sometimes seems that way. Maybe he's influential 
because of the high taxes and high tolls over which he 

Tony Blair? I haven't noticed an increase in fish and 
chips consumption since he was Britain's prime minister.

George Clooney? Chris Rock? I think Chris Rock is one 
of the funniest men alive, but I usually switch channels 
when he comes on because his vocabulary seems limited 
to a vulgarity that describes the sex act. That isn't 
talent, much less influence, unless Time wants to credit 
him with the dubious distinction of increasing the public 
utterance of the F-word.

Oprah Winfrey? For a lot of women, I suppose, but surely 
not a majority of women. Does anyone watch her show in 

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I'll grant the influence label to the head of Saudi 
Arabia's House of Saud, only because he continues to 
take more of our money by raising the price of oil. 
Real influence, though, would be American political 
leadership vowing to make us free of Saudi oil and its 
influence. I might vote for such a leader, especially 
if he (or she) came up with a slogan like, "Let Œem Eat 

Rupert Murdoch is on the list and he is one of the few 
who qualify as influential, as his media empire grows 
and decides what programs will entertain us and what 
news to give us (disclosure: I am a paid Fox News Channel 

I wonder why Jesus of Nazareth never makes the list? 
Over 20 centuries, uncounted numbers have testified to 
changed lives upon meeting Him. Changing a life from 
what it was to something better is real influence, 
isn't it?

What about the mother who influences her children by 
sacrificing for them and giving them opportunities she 
didn't have? I never see her on the list. And the couple 
that stays together and works out their problems, rather 
than seeking a "no fault" divorce? Don't they influence 

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The business leader who puts principles and ethics before 
profit and corner cutting surely influences his or her 
employees. Too bad we don't read more about them in the 
major media. Covering only the sleazy and corrupt is a 
form of influence because it contributes to the general 
cynicism about everything from politics to capitalism. 
And speaking of politics, there are honest politicians, 
but you rarely hear about them, as much of the media 
prefer to focus on the crooks.

John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are on 
Time's list of the most influential, but only the one 
who wins the election will have a chance to influence 
us. Even then, presidents only marginally influence our 
opinions, most of which we already hold before they are 
elected. Presidents rarely influence our actions or 
behavior, except when we don't like what they do.

Time's newspaper ad says these "most influential people 
are changing the world and making history." Brad Pitt 
and Angelina Jolie? I don't think so. 

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