Time Places 'Moron' NewsBusters on 'Least Influential' List

Time magazine's website on Thursday named me [MRC news analyst Matthew Balan] to their tongue-in-cheek "Least Influential People of 2010" list, ranking me with other notables such as Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, MSNBC anchor David Shuster, and Clarence Thomas. Contributor Joel Stein stated that he was "short on morons" to put on his list, so he picked me [Balan] after CNN anchor Rick Sanchez told him about our recent dispute.

The Time writer got to me after listing three-pages-worth of notables. I was immediately preceded by actor Joaquin Phoenix, "political extremist" Lyndon LaRouche, and Justice Thomas. Stein detailed that "Rick Sanchez told me to put him on because they got in a fight about whether Sanchez was serious or kidding about being surprised volcanoes exist in cold places like Iceland. I forgot to ask Rick what category he thinks Balan should go in, but I was short on morons so I put him here."

As you might remember, I put up an item on NewsBusters on April 15 about the CNN anchor's remark about "when you think of a volcano, you think of Hawaii and long words like that. You don't think of Iceland. You think it's too cold to have a volcano there." Four days later, Sanchez named me to "the very top" of his "List U Don't Want 2 Be On," and devoted more than four minutes to how I did a "hot job" on him for his "joke."

By the way, Stein is someone who once fantasized about dancing with former attorney general Janet Reno back in 2002. He is on the record as saying that he didn't support American troops in a 2006 L.A. Times column: "When you volunteer for the U.S. military...you're willingly signing up to be a fighting tool of American imperialism" (this quote was a runner-up for the MRC's Quote of the Year)

Earlier in the online piece, before he revealed his picks, the Time contributor explained that "it was very difficult to fill up a list of 100 uninfluential people. For help, I called news anchor Rick Sanchez, who hosts Rick's List on CNN...I figured that when you're trying to book guests in the afternoon on CNN, you get to talk to some pretty uninfluential people." Stein continued with a few quotes from the CNN anchor: "'Don't shy away from easy pickings,' Sanchez advised. 'When someone says something dumb, Joel, it's your job to report it.' Sanchez airs a segment called 'The List You Don't Want to Be On,' from which he gave me some names. 'A lot of times these guys are famous for 35 seconds,' Sanchez said."

Stein actually made fun of Sanchez, his helper, later in the same paragraph: "'I'd never heard of the president of Toyota until he was on the list. I can't even remember his name now' [said Sanchez]. That man's name, by the way, is Toyoda. When someone says something dumb, it is my job to report it."

The Time contributor was actually only following in the footsteps of The Daily Show's Jon Stewart, who made fun of the CNN anchor after he infamously asked, "By the way, nine meters in English is?" during CNN's coverage of the Chilean earthquake and resulting tsunami back in February 2010. During that newscast, Sanchez also misidentified the Galapagos Islands as Hawaii.

-Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.