Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Rolling Stone Cover Leads Stores To Boycott Issue, Mayor To Write Angry Letter

Chris CrumBusiness

Share this Post

The upcoming Rolling Stone features suspected Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the cover, and has generated a storm of controversy with stores refusing to sell the issue.

The headline for the cover story is simply "The Bomber," and the subtitle is, "How a Popular, Promising Student Was Failed by His Family, Fell Into Radical Islam and Became a Monster."

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Rolling Stone Cover

Legions of people are expressing their disgust over the cover (more than the actual story), with many claiming that it glamorizes Tsarnaev, and elevates him to a rock star-like status.

Some have drawn comparisons to an old Rolling Stone issue with Jim Morrison on the cover (via Buzzfeed):

A lot of people are saying a lot of hateful things about the magazine on Twitter, where Rolling Stone hasn't said much about it, other than:

Meanwhile, Rolling Stone is continuing with business as usual, tweeting stories about Nine Inch Nails, Kings of Leon, etc.

The magazine did release a statement, which currently sits atop the online version of the piece, and which was posted to the Rolling Stone Facebook page:

Rolling Stone

Our hearts go out to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, and our thoughts are always with them and their families. The cover story we are publishing this week falls within the traditions of journalism and Rolling Stone’s long-standing commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day. The fact that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is young, and in the same age group as many of our readers, makes it all the more important for us to examine the complexities of this issue and gain a more complete understanding of how a tragedy like this happens. –THE EDITORS

Boston Bomber: How Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Fell Into Radical Islam | Culture News | Rolling Stone
Janet Reitman delivers a riveting account of how Jahar Tsarnaev became a monster

As mentioned, stores are boycotting the issue:

Tedeschi Food Shops, Inc.

Tedeschi Food Shops supports the need to share the news with everyone, but cannot support actions that serve to glorify the evil actions of anyone. With that being said, we will not be carrying this issue of Rolling Stone. Music and terrorism don't mix!

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino released a letter to Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner, saying:

Dear Mr. Wenner,

Your August 3 cover rewards a terrorist with celebrity treatment. It is ill-conceived, at best, and re-affirms a terrible message that destruction gains fame for killers and their "causes". There may be valuable journalism behind your sensational treatment, though we can't know because almost all you released is the cover.

To respond to you in anger is to feed into your obvious marketing strategy. So, I write to you instead to put the focus where you could have: on the brave and strong survivors and on the thousands of people - their family and friends, volunteers, first responders, doctors, nurses, and donors - who have come to their side. Among those we lost, those who survived, and those who help carry them forward, there are artists and musicians and dancers and writers. They have dreams and plans. They struggle and strive. The survivors of the Boston attacks deserve Rolling Stone cover stories, though I no longer feel that Rolling Stone deserves them.


Thomas M. Menino
Mayor of Boston

Again, the cover story is online now. You can read it here. Here's the intro:

Peter Payack awoke around 4 a.m. on April 19th, 2013, and saw on his TV the grainy surveillance photo of the kid walking out of the minimart. The boy, identified as "Suspect #2" in the Boston bombing, looked familiar, thought Payack, a wrestling coach at the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. On the other hand, there were a million skinny kids with vaguely ethnic features and light-gray hoodies in the Boston area, and half the city was probably thinking they recognized the suspect. Payack, who'd been near the marathon finish line on the day of the bombing and had lost half of his hearing from the blast, had hardly slept in four days. But he was too agitated to go back to bed. Later that morning, he received a telephone call from his son. The kid in the photo? "Dad, that's Jahar."

While the cover has certainly generated much more negative buzz than defense of Rolling Stone's actions, some approve of the magazine's choice, as evidenced by Fox News' polling of its audience:

Currently, Rolling Stone continues to trend on Twitter, and the conversation about its upcoming issue has become a national one.

Chris Crum

Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.