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2014 Man of the Year: Joan Rivers

Joan Rivers
Joan Rivers / AP
• December 31, 2014 2:00 pm

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Amelia Earhart. Margaret Thatcher. Jeanne Kirkpatrick. Throughout history, there have been women pioneers who dared for greatness, upended the status quo, and left a powerful and everlasting imprint on our world.

As one of the nation’s top advocates for women’s empowerment, the Washington Free Beacon is thrilled to announce its first-ever female Man of the Year recipient for 2014, the late Joan Rivers.

There were other contenders. Malala for her tireless work defending female education in Pakistan; Kate Upton, who this year became the first Sports Illustrated model to pose in zero-gravity space; and Elizabeth Warren, who is poised to break one of America’s thickest glass ceilings by becoming the first-ever female Democratic presidential nominee.

But in the end, the decision was a simple one. More than any other woman in 2014, Rivers truly embodied the ideals of the great trailblazers who came before her.

From her early career as a fixture on late-night TV, to her more recent evolution to reality show star, Rivers cemented herself as a pop culture icon spanning generations. Along the way, she hosted an Emmy-award-winning talk show, wrote a play, won a Tony, skewered the red carpet, created a fashion line for QVC, filmed a documentary, and kept up a packed schedule of live comedy performances around the country.

Throughout it all, Rivers spoke her mind, even if it meant taking on the shibboleths of Hollywood and the mainstream media.

One of the most memorable instances of this came in July, when she forcefully defended Israel’s right to defend itself while talking to a TMZ cameraman at LAX.

"If New Jersey were firing rockets into New York, we would wipe them out," she said. "Palestinians, you cannot throw rockets and expect people to not to defend themselves."

Rivers added the "BBC should be ashamed of themselves, and CNN should be ashamed of themselves."

When asked about Selena Gomez tweeting her support for Palestine, Rivers responded "Oh Selana Gomez. Yeah that college grad … let’s see if she can spell ‘Palestinian.’"

Her sudden passing in September at age 81 was a loss for us all. For her wit, moral clarity, and willingness to speak truth to power, Rivers is the Free Beacon’s first woman Man of the Year.

Published under: Man of the Year