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.”
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):
New Rolling Stone cover turns the Boston bomber into Jim Morrison. A comparison: pic.twitter.com/UJKhAMJSGO
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) July 16, 2013
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:
Five revelations from our new cover story, "Jahar's World," about Boston bomber Jahar Tsarnaev: http://t.co/HerRnNCtfh
— Rolling Stone (@RollingStone) July 16, 2013
Read our full Dzhokhar Tsarnaev cover story and a letter from the editors: http://t.co/w654qiHbLn #longreads
— Rolling Stone (@RollingStone) July 17, 2013
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:
As mentioned, stores are boycotting the issue:
Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. Walgreens will not be selling this issue of Rolling Stone magazine.
— Walgreens (@Walgreens) July 17, 2013
We have decided to not sell the current issue of Rolling Stone, out of respect for the victims and their loved ones.
— CVS/pharmacy (@CVS_Extra) July 17, 2013
When we learned of the cover for the current issue of Rolling Stone, we chose not to offer that product for sale in our stores. Thank you.
— Roche Bros. (@Roche_Bros) July 17, 2013
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:
Does Rolling Stone cover glorify Boston Bomber Dzhokhar #Tsarnaev? http://t.co/PRmhYGFH4S Results so far: 62% say yes, 21% no, 16% not sure
— Fox News (@FoxNews) July 17, 2013
Currently, Rolling Stone continues to trend on Twitter, and the conversation about its upcoming issue has become a national one.