Outrage over Rolling Stone Cover story of Boston Bomber

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Outrage over Rolling Stone Cover story of Boston Bomber

I used to get Rolling Stone until 2010, when they ran a smear piece on General McChrystal and I called and cancelled.  It's certainly their right constitutionally speaking to write whatever they want that isn't libelous, but then again it is my right as a consumer not to pay for it.  I thought that article went too far, and from the point of view of a guy who does embeds with the military I have to keep stressing to units that "I'm not from Rolling Stone or the New York Times, I'm here to stress the positive."

On top of that, I am a native Massachusian.  I love my Red Sox, I love my Patriots, I love the Bruins, I love UMASS Basketball (more than my wife is comfortable with,) and I love chowder.  I even have a Boston Terrier I named Fenway.  (He's my little black and white monster.)  So, the Rolling Stone cover sort of had a visceral reaction with me too. 

Today we have a Big Q up on the Legion website (you can vote HERE) that my boss even asked me to write.  I told him that I wouldn't, probably in a more angry tone than I should have.  The whole thing really makes me mad. 

A lot of folks will likely say that I should read the article before I cast aspersions.  Yeah, I'm not going to do that.  The article could clearly talk about what a monster this guy is (and it even says that in the title) but either way my feeling is that he shouldn't be on the cover of something like this, certainly not in the same pose as the Doors' Jim Morrison.  But Rolling Stone feels differently of course, as they make clear in the statement in the picture above.

Nonetheless, reaction has been swift.  Twitchy.com has been monitoring the Twitter reaction since the beginning, and has some pretty choice quotes from companies, Bostonians and other Americans disgusted by it:

Actor James Woods:  First Amendment protects Rolling Stone, but nobody had to buy that $#!^ rag. Boycott Rolling Stone. Put it out of business...

Dancing with the Stars' Tom Bergeron:  Just saw the latest @RollingStone cover. Unbelievable. Was this instead of their Al-Qaeda swimsuit edition?

Actor Dean Cain:  I never read Rolling Stone anyway...but now?    


Actor James Van Der Beek: Rolling Stone - No matter what the content of the article might be, you DO realize your cover space is all about glorification, right?

Donnie Wahlberg of New Kids on the Block:  I'd be remiss if I didn't express my disappointment in @rollingstone magazine's cover. For many reasons, it just feels wrong.

Singer/Songwriter Brad Paisley: I have to say, the Rolling Stone Magazine cover with the bomber is in poor taste. We shouldn't make rock stars out of murderers.

MLB Pitcher Brad Ziegler: Never going to read Rolling Stone magazine again after this: http://fxn.ws/16J0c6V

Even Boston Mayor Menino, a man seldom noted for his great speaking ability leaped into the fray:  Your August 3 cover rewards a terrorist with celebrity treatment...To respond to you in anger is to feed into your obvious marketing strategy...The survivors of the Boston attacks deserve Rolling Stone cover stories, though I no longer feel that Rolling Stone deserves them.  (More on that at the bottom of this post.)

Meanwhile the response from retailers hasn't been much better for Rolling Stone:

Kmart: Kmart will not be selling copies of the new Rolling Stone magazine out of respect for those impacted by the events of April 15th.

Rite Aid: Out of respect to everyone affected by the Boston Marathon bombing, Rite Aid has decided not to sell the latest issue of Rolling Stone.

CVS: We have decided to not sell the current issue of Rolling Stone, out of respect for the victims and their loved ones.

Walgreens: Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. Walgreens will not be selling this issue of Rolling Stone magazine.

Naturally others are complaining that the article wasn't fair to the alleged (which is to say not YET convicted) bomber, with some continuing to claim it is all a hoax:

Dear Rolling Stone magazine, 'The Bomber' ? Prove it. Sincerely, you dont know anything.

@RollingStone calling him a monster? Who the hell y'all trying to convince

Jahar is on cover of upcoming Rolling Stone mag. Ignorant,inflammatory article presuming guilt inside.

Call yourself an investigative journalist? 2 mths research & u still call him The Bomber: FAIL

How dare you judge someone when you have no right to. I hope you get sued for defamation and slandering Jahar's name.

Amanda Marcotte at Slate thinks it's "brilliant":

As the Washington Post’s Erik Wemple points out, the image is exploitative—but it isn’t just exploitative: It’s also smart, unnerving journalism. By depicting a terrorist as sweet and handsome rather than ugly and terrifying, Rolling Stone has subverted our expectations and hinted at a larger truth. The cover presents a stark contrast with our usual image of terrorists. It asks, “What did we expect to see in Tsarnaev? What did we hope to see?” The answer, most likely, is a monster, a brutish dolt with outward manifestations of evil. What we get instead, however, is the most alarming sight of all: a boy who looks like someone we might know.

By way of contrast, it should be noted that Rolling Stone has a monthly subscription rate of 1.4 million.  The American Legion Magazine has 2.2 million, but because it is shared so freely, our actual readership is 3.4 million. 

The Boston sports blog "Barstool Sports" [which is probably not safe for normal work traffic] has been making mock-ups of what they felt the cover should have been instead.  Now this is a magazine cover that I would have been proud to purchase.


UPDATE: you can add 7-11 to those now not selling the magazine. 

Posted in the burner | 24 comments
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This is disgusting. One of the things people like Tsarnaev want is publicity. We would be better off if his picture was never shown and his name is mentioned as little as possible. And I don't care that he may previously have been a nice kid. The less publicity, the better

First I want Rolling Stone to know that there cover is void of respect for those that were hurt and those that lost there lives to the two terrorist in Boston. It makes me angry that they have no respect for the victim's and seem to want to sell there magazine with covers that anger the average person. Maybe the story within is worth reading, but I hope that none of the retailers in our great nation sell this issue. I for one will not read anything again in Rolling Stone.

I for one will never read any of your comments. You can make them, I just don't want to ever read them or think about them.

What great nation? The one with the worst health care system in the industrialized world, the worst educational system in the industrialized world, the worst worker rights in the industrialized world and a judicial system that is the laughingstock of every other country? That "great nation"?

By the way, learn some grammar. I learned the difference between "there" and "their" in, oh, about first grade.

In my hart I truly believe that the Tsarnaev brothers were working with a special oops division of the government and didn't know they were being set up as patsy's. I also believe that Dzhokhar cant go to court because their is to much film that ties the bombing to the government. This isn't the first false flag operation that the government has done just one in a long line of many. The government will do and has done everything even kill American citizens to further take our God given rites away.


holy s**t really? You need serious help. And about the cover... poor taste, bad form, no respect.

Press freedom -- they can publish as they wish. Market system freedom -- people vote their approval or disapproval by buying or not buying. Expression freedom -- readers of this article are allowed to comment as their conscience allows. All three freedoms are among those for which we fight. Let's revel that the rights have been successfully defended regardless if we disagree with the choice a person or organization takes in using them.

I clearly will not purchase this. That is my choice. I'm glad to have the option.

There is a freedom of the Press that many of our comrades died to maintain this freedom. However we don't have to but this magazine and even better write every advertiser of the magazine and ask them to pull their advertisements or we can start a boycott of them for supporting this trash.
We will always support the rights so many have paid for but we also have a right to boycott too!

What exactly is "trash"? There's a picture of a person, with a story within the magazine about that person. Did you read it? (Probably not--better to just attack something based on some superficiality, like a photo, than to actually learn something by reading and investigating.)

At my "ripe old age" - I am still shocked and amazed at the arrogant, stupidity, and insensitivity of the people today that are in power - let it be a magazine or in Washington - the internet/smart phones/social media - the damage it has done to the younger people is irreversible - and I have been in the computer world and using it for over 35 years. If the Rolling Stone magazine suffers no consequences for this decision they made - it only PROVES my point. I don't have to say anymore!

What do you expect from a bunch dope-smoking pinkos!

Just more workplace violence.

This is very distasteful. Shame on them.

I knew this was going to become a big free for all. Everyone would treat him like he was something great. They should have taken care of everything when he was in the boat. Saved the taxpayers a lot of money.

I don't thing Rolling Stone should have put an alleged bomber on the cover. We do not need to glorify a terrorist. They need to consider the effect on the victims and their families. NO ONE should sell this issue. Make Rolling Stone pay for their lack of respect.

Rolling Stone, shame on you. Like always you want to portray evil as exciting. I sincerely hope that your readership reduces because you are just a trash tabloid like you'll find in the grocery store check outs.

sucks,put them out of business

Rolling Stone magazine isn't the only issue that praises these terrorist. I take offense for all of these so-called freedom of speech idiots. And I've never bought an issue and never will. This terrorist should be tried by the Military and executed, along with all of those in Gitmo. I hope all of the folks that previously sold their product refuse to sell from now on.

I hope the picture on your Cover causes your sales drop where it will Bankrupt the book

It has NOTHING TO DO WITH "Thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day"!! There is no "complexities" to this issue!! It is all about GETTING THE ATTENTION OF BUYERS THAT THINK THIS TERRORIST MAY HAVE SOMETHING ELSE THAT IS "DIFFERENT" In other words, it is all about the almighty dollar and how many of these magazines will be purchased by "liberal idiots" that think they can read it and "maybe find fault" with the arrest and conviction of this "MONSTER"! Face it, people buy "crap" that is in this magazine because THEY WANT TO BE DIFFERENT TOO, REGARDLESS OF THE AFFECT IT HAS ON BOSTON AND THE FAMILIES THAT HAD MEMBERS THAT WERE KILLED AND MAIMED!! Nobody at "Rolling Stone" thinks about that until after they try "TO BE DIFFERENT"!!! I hope they lose money and citizens won't purchase any of these issues.

First of all it is my honest opinion that whoever came up with the phrase "glorified terrorism" caused all this fury. RS is NOT glorifying anything about this piece of rot, they are simply explaining that anyone you'd think to be a good looking, friendly yob could be a terrorist. Yes RS should have used a less attractive picture, but that would defeat the purpose of the entire issue. I too firmly believe everyone who criticised the magazine should read it first.

Terrible terrible terrible! If you have that magazine throw it in the trash and cancel your subscription!!!

Those that don't think having your picture on the cover of Rolling Stone is a big thing, obviously never listened to Dr. Hook.

Letter sent to the Editors of Rolling Stone: Are you all stupid! Why in the hell would you glorify a killer? I don't care if he is the age group you are targeting. Do you want him to be a role model for kids to emulate? I think you should pull every damn one of those magazines and issue an apology to the entire United States. As a former Marine, I am saddened to see what the coming generation values!

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.