TIME magazine gives John Kerry glowing cover treatment in climate change issue, ignores his private jet habit

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TIME Magazine fawned over John Kerry with a lionizing cover story Thursday that paints President Joe Biden’s climate envoy as the key to saving the world but left out his habit of flying private. 

TIME dedicated its latest edition to the “Global Climate Fight” and featured four different covers, as Kerry graced the magazine along with engineer Linda Zhang, climate activist Vanessa Nakate and an illustration urging world leaders to take action. The Kerry version refers to him as “The Diplomat,” and claims the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate brings “America back into the climate fight.” 

TIME Magazine fawned over John Kerry with a glowing cover story. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

In the article, writer Justin Worland heaps praise on the climate envoy without mentioning either his private jet or controversy surrounding his handling of U.S.-China relations. Part of it reads, “It’s hard to imagine someone more fitting to defend multilateralism than Kerry, a Vietnam veteran turned antiwar activist and son of a diplomat who has served at the highest levels of the U.S. government for decades.”

In August, Kerry’s family jet had already emitted 30 times the amount of carbon emitted by a typical passenger vehicle per year, data reviewed by Fox News showed. 

A Fox News review of flight data and an industry emissions calculator found that the jet emitted an estimated 138 metric tons of carbon on trips dating from Jan. 10 to Aug. 6. 

TIME “followed” Kerry for eight months for the feature, noted that it began with calls and virtual events but Worland began jet-setting the globe with the former Secretary of State. They took a train together from “Geneva to Milan” and chatted atop a Naples roof overlooking the Mediterranean. 

While TIME didn’t find room to mention Kerry’s private flights in the lengthy feature, it did manage to explain that he has a “favorite and oft-visited chocolate shop in Geneva” and has been well-traveled since childhood. 

“Kerry is an internationalist when many leaders are looking inward. He knows where to stop for chocolate in foreign cities, yes, but he also has a vision of solving problems through diplomacy and dealmaking. The son of a foreign service officer, he grew up on both sides of the Atlantic at a time when the U.S. was working to rebuild Europe, attending boarding school in Switzerland before returning to the U.S. for high school,” Worland wrote. 

Worland’s feature also fawns over Kerry’s ability to work a room, dedication to meeting with foreign leaders, “confronting a challenging reality” and quotes praise from a variety of Kerry’s friends and colleagues.

“There’s just no substitute for the kind of deep, meaningful, decades-long relationships John brings to his role,” U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman told TIME. 

Kerry’s climate vision, however, has raised questions about U.S. leadership on human rights and the potential power imbalance with China that could result from the switch to renewables. Instead, it vaguely referred to rifts between the two nations.

In September, Kerry suggested the U.S. should bypass concerns about China’s human rights abuses – comparing the situation to former President Ronald Reagan’s negotiations with a nuclear-armed Soviet Union. 

“Yes we have issues, a number of different issues, but first and foremost, this planet must be protected,” he said.

Fox News reported in August that Kerry’s family jet took at least 16 flights in 2021. With additional data, those numbers were updated to include two flights on Aug. 6 and one on Jan. 10.

John Kerry plays cards on board his private jet enroute to Albuquerque, New Mexico from Minneapolis on May 4, 2004. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)
(Paula Bronstein/Getty Images  |  )

In total, Kerry’s private jet had taken at least 20 trips through August lasting 1,597 combined minutes, or more than 26 hours. Many of these flights occurred within Massachusetts, including from Martha’s Vineyard and Boston International Airport. At least two flights took place between Massachusetts and New Jersey.

Based on Paramount Business Jets’ emissions calculator, the Kerry family jet’s carbon emissions would have reached an estimated 303,309 lbs. or 138 metric tons. 

It’s unclear how many times Kerry’s family has flown private since Fox News’ report. 

Earlier this year, footage surfaced in which Kerry defended flying via private jet to receive an environmental award in Iceland in 2019. He called flying private “the only choice for somebody like me who is traveling the world to win this battle.”

TIME was widely mocked earlier this year when the magazine unveiled its cover image ahead of the summit between a sunglasses-wearing President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

TIME was widely mocked when the magazine unveiled its cover image ahead of the summit between a sunglasses-wearing President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The illustration featured Biden in his signature aviator shades with the headline, “Taking on Putin.” 

Meanwhile, TIME spent years publishing unflattering illustrations of former President Donald Trump, complete with a pair of covers showing his “meltdown” stages and another set of covers showing Trump’s Oval Office filling up with water amid a “stormy” situation.

A State Department spokesperson for Kerry told Fox News in August: “Secretary Kerry travels commercially or via military air in his role as Special Presidential Envoy for Climate.” 

The spokesperson later clarified to Fox News that Kerry himself wasn’t on any of the flights noted for this year. They did not respond to an inquiry as to whether he and his wife continued to benefit financially from Flying Squirrel LLC. That’s the name previously reported for Teresa Heinz-Kerry’s private charter jet company and the registered owner listed on the Federal Aviation Administration’s website. 

Fox News’ Peter Hasson contributed to this report.

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