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Time recognizes 'silence breakers' as person of the year

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Photographs by AP/Time Magazine

This Person of the Year edition of Time magazine features “The Silence Breakers,” those who have shared their stories about sexual assault and harassment.

NEW YORK -- The "silence breakers" -- those who have shared their stories about sexual assault and harassment -- have been named Time magazine's person of the year.

Numerous women have spoken out publicly since October about sexual misconduct by dozens of high-profile men in the entertainment, media, business and sports industries. Time praised those who have given "voice to open secrets, for moving whisper networks onto social networks, for pushing us all to stop accepting the unacceptable." The magazine's cover features Ashley Judd, Taylor Swift, Susan Fowler and others who say they have been harassed.

Time's announcement was made Wednesday on NBC's Today show, from which longtime host Matt Lauer was fired last week amid harassment allegations. Today host Savannah Guthrie acknowledged Wednesday that this year's winner hits "close to home" and mentioned Lauer by name.

"The galvanizing actions of the women on our cover ... along with those of hundreds of others, and of many men as well, have unleashed one of the highest-velocity shifts in our culture since the 1960s," Time's editor in chief, Edward Felsenthal, said on Today.

Women who spoke out, initially against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein and then others, helped to spawn the #MeToo social media movement, with millions of people telling stories of sexual misconduct.

The tweets and Instagram and Facebook posts began after actress-activist Alyssa Milano followed a suggestion from a friend of a friend on Facebook and tweeted: "If you've been sexually harassed or assaulted write 'me too' as a reply to this tweet." The hashtag was tweeted nearly a million times in 48 hours. #MeToo was actually founded by activist Tarana Burke a decade ago to raise awareness about sexual violence. Milano has said she wasn't aware of Burke's contributions when she made her initial tweet and has since publicly credited her.

Milano and Burke appeared together Wednesday on the Today show.

"This is just the start. I've been saying from the beginning it's not just a moment, it's a movement," Burke said. "Now the work really begins."

The media's endless stream of sexual harassment investigations and the countless #MeToo accounts of harassment, sexual abuse and worse have ensnared an ever-growing list of public figures.

Those include TV journalists Lauer, Charlie Rose, Mark Halperin; former NPR news chief Michael Oreskes; entertainers Russell Simmons, Louis C.K., Kevin Spacey, James Levine and Garrison Keillor; and U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., and U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Time's 2015 person of the year, said through a spokesman that this year's winners should be thanked for "having the courage to break the silence on sexual assaults and for the worldwide discussion that they have launched."

The two runners-up for Person of the Year were Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Donald Trump, himself accused of sexual misconduct by numerous women. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Trump, Person of the Year in 2016, tweeted recently that the magazine had told him he "probably" would be named again if he agreed to an interview and photo shoot. Trump added that he "took a pass." Time has disputed his account.

On Wednesday, the president of Minnesota Public Radio told employees that the decision to cut business ties with Keillor, the former A Prairie Home Companion host, resulted from "multiple allegations" that covered an extended period of time.

Jon McTaggart held an off-the-record meeting with employees Wednesday, a week after Keillor's dismissal was announced. Reporters from Minnesota Public Radio News did not attend because the meeting was declared off-the-record, but they compiled an account from employees who did attend.

Information for this article was contributed by staff members of The Associated Press and by Lindsey Bever and Abby Ohlheiser of The Washington Post.

A Section on 12/07/2017

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