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Rolling Stone Runs with Boston Bombing Suspect Cover, Sparks Outrage

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Rolling Stone magazine unveiled the cover of their August 1st issue yesterday, and immediately felt the Internet’s wrath. That’s because the cover — often reserved for celebrities, rock stars, etc. — features a photo of the infamous Boston Bomber #2 in the white hat: suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

The issue’s lead story, written by Janet Reitman, is an in-depth feature on Tsarnaev. A “heartbreaking account of how a charming kid with a bright future became a monster.” Therefore, the magazine obviously thought it was okay to put a photo of Tsarnaev on the cover — the online community disagrees.

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The photo itself isn’t new. Taken from Tsarnaev’s Twitter account, it has even been used on the cover of The New York Times, and caused no newsworthy backlash. The issue seems to be that getting on the cover of the Rolling Stone is seen as something of an achievement … a good thing. It was even immortalized in song by Dr. Hook and The Medicine Show.

Reactions to the cover reveal have ranged from speechless disbelief to vulgar outrage. One Facebook commenter expressed a sentiment that was repeated by many others: “[I have] been a subscriber since 1982 — canceling tonight. I am beyond words…” Others chose a more simple approach, dropping a choice expletive and signing off.


Some see the cover as incentive for “future nutjobs to aspire to,” while others fear the fuel this will give to the small group of Tsarnaev supporters rallying under the so-called “Free Jahar movement.”

Whatever the outcome — it seems even Tsarnaev sympathizers weren’t happy with the magazine, because the article labels him as guilty before he’s had his day in court — the folks at Rolling Stone have a viral Internet backlash on their hands. Thus far, the magazine has not responded to requests for comment.

(via The Verge)


Update: Drugstores and supermarkets based in New England are boycotting Rolling Stone over this cover photograph.


Update: The magazine has published a response to the controversy, saying:

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.