Something you may or may not know about Time Magazine is that they make covers for each of four regions every time they put out an issue: U.S., Europe, Asia, and South Pacific. Often, these will all be the same cover. However, sometimes they won't. For any of a variety of reasons- importance to the region, what they think will sell copies, whatever- the cover will often be changed to suit the needs of the region.
The December 5th, 2011 issue of Time, though, is an illustration of what some suspect is a much more distressing reason to change the cover: dumbing it down for the Americans. For Europe, Asia and South Pacific, as you can see here, the cover story picked was 'Revolution Redux', concerning the Egyptian military taking such control of the country that it's spurred a possible second revolution there. The U.S. cover, meanwhile: "Why Anxiety Is Good For You (as long as you know how to use it)".
Knowing this, I went through the archive of cover comparisons, as far back as I could, and while there have been some occasions where the U.S. actually came out ahead on the headline, or where it's been something of a wash, after a while the trend does show that, for whatever reason, Time doesn't think Americans can handle the hard stuff. Other regions also will run some of the subpar American covers separately; however, they will do it a few weeks later, after running covers of more pressing matters. The U.S. will get them first.
Frequently, one region's cover story won't even be included in another region's issue at all. You can do the math.
I have thus compiled a list of the 20 most egregious dumbing-downs Time has inflicted on their American readers in the last five years, including that of the December 5th issue. Prior to that, the U.S. cover was usually copied for the South Pacific, which for our purposes disqualified it. To qualify for inclusion, the U.S. version could not be the same as any of the other three regions, so cases where two regions ran one cover and the other two regions ran a second cover are out, even if the U.S. came out with the worse of the two.
At the start, it's bad, but not quite as bad as it could have been. Towards the end, it is.
Europe: "Why Britain Wants To See The Back of Gordon Brown".
Asia/South Pacific: "Containing Kim Jong Il".
U.S.: "How Not To End Up Here", "here" being a hospital bed.
Europe/Asia/South Pacific: "How Pakistan Let Itself Down".
U.S.: "The Future Of Work".
Europe/South Pacific: "Again", concerning fighting on the Gaza Strip.
Asia: "Democracy: Why it's failing in Asia and how it can be helped".
U.S.: "Why We Need To See The Light About Energy Efficiency".
Europe/Asia: "Keeping An Eye On Terror", concerning an increase in security measures in Britain.
South Pacific: "Culture of Violence", concerning ethnic gang violence in New Zealand.
U.S.: "How We Get Addicted".
Europe/Asia/South Pacific: "Last Stand", concerning Moammar Gahdafi.
U.S.: "Understanding Pain".
Europe/Asia/South Pacific: "China's Moment", concerning the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic.
U.S.: "Mad Man", concerning Glenn Beck, who on the cover is sticking out his tongue.
Europe/Asia/South Pacific: "All Together Now (Please?)", concerning the then-upcoming G-20 summit and the issues facing the countries therein.
U.S.: "The End Of Excess: Why This Crisis Is Good For America".
Europe/Asia/South Pacific: "The Lady Returns", concerning the release of Aung San Suu Kyi.
U.S.: "Who Needs Marriage?"
Europe/Asia/South Pacific: "Why Germany Can't Save The World", concerning the Eurozone.
U.S. "Why Mom Liked you Best: The Science of Favoritism".
Europe/South Pacific: "Why Britain's Election Should Be About Her", "her" referring to a representative female soldier on the cover.
Asia: "Obama's China Challenge".
U.S.: "Should Schools Bribe Kids?"
Europe/Asia/South Pacific: "Pakistan's Despair", concerning the aftermath of massive flooding in that country.
U.S.: "What Makes A School Great?"
Europe/South Pacific: "Ethiopia's Harvest of Hunger".
Asia: "Beijing: 8/8/08", concerning the Beijing Olympics.
U.S.: "Rick Warren: The Purpose Driven Pastor".
Europe/Asia/South Pacific: "Haiti: The Aftermath".
U.S.: "The Most Dangerous Game", referring to football.
Europe/Asia/South Pacific: "Talibanistan".
U.S.: "Why We Should Teach The Bible In Public School (but very, very carefully)".
Europe/Asia/South Pacific: "Seeking Refuge", concerning the growing difficulties of people seeking asylum around the world.
U.S.: "The History Issue: Thomas Edison".
Europe/Asia/South Pacific: "Ny-lon-kong", concerning how New York, London and Hong Kong drive the global economy.
U.S.: "The Science of Romance".
Europe/Asia/South Pacific: "Why The U.S. Will Never Save Afghanistan".
U.S.: "The Return of the Silent Majority".
Europe/Asia/South Pacific: "Travels Through Islam".
U.S.: "Chore Wars".
Europe/Asia/South Pacific: 'Revolution Redux', concerning the Egyptian military.
U.S.: "Why Anxiety Is Good For You (as long as you know how to use it)"
Europe/Asia/South Pacific: "The Global Economy: One Year Later".
U.S.: "Jay Leno Is The Future Of Television. Seriously!"