Readers Claim Rolling Stone Cover Makes Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Look Like ‘Rock Star’
People are not pleased with the magazine’s photo choice for their cover.
The latest issue of Rolling Stone is drawing a lot of negative attention for featuring a cover of alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, with many claiming that the image used to highlight the magazine’s lead story glamorizes the alleged terrorist.
The August cover, which the publication posted online this afternoon and features a selfie of Tsarnaev, is meant to supplement a ” riveting account” of the suspect’s life in Cambridge and Boston. But those who have seen it and are passing it around via social media are comparing it to past covers that have shed a positive light on iconic performers—think Jim Morrison of The Doors—proclaiming that the cover gives Tsarnaev a “rock star” appeal.
— David Salvo (@DTSalvo) July 17, 2013
Tsarnaev, who stands accused of setting off bombs with his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, on April 15 on Boylston Street, pleaded not guilty to 30 charges brought against him by federal prosecutors at the Moakley U.S. District Court last week. It was his first public appearance since the day of his arrest.
In the hours since the cover was posted online, it has already received intense backlash, and the story to accompany it hasn’t yet been released. Even those who have shown support for the alleged domestic terrorist, and claimed that they feel the 19-year-old bombing suspect is innocent or has been framed, are taking shots at Rolling Stone.
— SupporterJahar! (@mariatmqsil) July 16, 2013
Some have argued, however, that the publication has done nothing wrong, and the photo was once the centerpiece of the New York Times when new revelations about the Tsarnaev brothers came out:
That Dzhokhar selfie on the Rolling Stone cover was everywhere at the time. It was on the front page of the Times! pic.twitter.com/ix0KreMst7
— Stefan Becket (@stefanjbecket) July 17, 2013
According to the magazine’s editorial staff, the cover is meant to merely highlight a “deeply reported account of the life and times of Boston bomber Jahar Tsarnaev,” with two months worth of detailed reporting and commentary from the suspect’s childhood friends and former classmates, as well as teachers, neighbors, and law enforcement agents. According to Rolling Stone:
[It’s] a riveting and heartbreaking account of how a charming kid with a bright future became a monster.
Three hours after the cover was teased on RollingStone.com, it had been shared more than 1,500 times on Facebook, and even readers that admitted they flock to the music site regularly were pushing back at the editorial staff’s choice to plaster Tsarnaev’s mug front-and-center. “Found guilty or not, he shouldn’t be on this cover. It’s a painful reminder of the horrific acts. How about putting one of the heroes or victims on the cover! Seriously Rolling Stone are you kidding?,” wrote one reader.
“It seems you have glorified the only living suspect of the Boston Marathon bombings. Yes, tell his story. Reference it on the cover. Promote the story. But putting his image on the cover like he is a rock star is hurtful to so many,” a commenter by the name of “M” said.
Another person wrote that the decision was a “disgrace,” and vowed to stop reading any more content from the publication, a sentiment that was echoed by people on the publication’s Facebook page, too. “Oh look, Rolling Stone magazine is glamorizing terrorism. Awesome. I will not be buying this issue, or any future issues,” they wrote.
A Facebook page called Boycott Rolling Stone Magazine for Their Latest Cover was also started, and garnered 1,000 likes by 10 p.m. Tuesday. “I haven’t been this disgusted in a long time. The nation, and the victims, are still healing and Rolling Stone magazine gives it’s sought after cover to a murderer,” the page administrator wrote.
Below are some additional reactions from Twitter following the unveiling of the cover online at 6 p.m. on Tuesday:
.@RollingStone never should've put that monster on their cover. It's incendiary and insulting.
— Matt O'Malley (@MattOMalley) July 17, 2013
We should be putting the victims on the cover of Rolling Stone and making their stories famous, not Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
— MehKayla (@MessyMckay) July 17, 2013
Hey Boston – next time someone from Rolling Stone requests a press pass, it should be soundly declined.
— jimmy dunn (@jimmydunncomedy) July 17, 2013
— Kate Weldon LeBlanc (@beantownkate) July 17, 2013
WTF Rolling Stone! They put the bomber on the cover of their mag. Seriously?!
— Jaclyn (@bosoxgirl75) July 17, 2013
UPDATE 7/17/2013, 3 p.m.: Rolling Stone just posted its story on Dzhokhar Tsarnaev with the following statement at the top:
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