Rolling Stone under fire for giving Boston Bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev star treatment on cover


Rolling Stone

The cover of the latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine is drawing criticism for its treatment of Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who graces the front cover looking very much like a teen idol.

The cover shows a close up of Tsarnaev’s face, with tousled hair and soft light. The cover headline reads: “The Bomber: How a popular, promising student was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam and became a monster.”

Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges, including use of weapons of mass destruction and murder. He and his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, are accused of two bombings near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15. The bombings killed three people and injured more than 260. Many of those injured had to undergo limb amputations due to shrapnel contained in the explosives. Tamerlan Tsarnaev died during an altercation with police in the days after the bombing.

The treatment on the cover, which some are comparing to an older Rolling Stone cover featuring Jim Morrison of The Doors, is causing a stir on Twitter and Facebook.

“Jeff Bauman, who lost both legs, should be on cover,” wrote J Harper Philbin on Facebook.

Another user, David Beck, wrote: “I am ending my subscription. This is bulls–t. Let’s honor those who hurt innocent people. Who’s next, George Zimmerman?? Rolling Stone is a music magazine, not the Taliban Times.”

On Twitter, users threatened to boycott the magazine or cancel their subscriptions:

Later in the day, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino released a letter to the publisher of Rolling Stone. “It is ill-conceived at best, and re-affirms a terrible message that destruction gains fame for killers and their ’causes,'” he wrote.

The letter goes on to say that Rolling Stone should have focused on brave survivours and first-responders, and not on the man accused of the crime.

Rolling Stone released the following statement Wednesday afternoon in response to the backlash:

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

The magazine also posted the story, in full, on its website.

The cover story, written by contributing editor Janet Reitman, interviews Tsarnaev’s friends, teachers, neighbors and law enforcement to profile the alleged bomber, from his childhood up until his arrest.

Tsarnaev, 19, remains in prison awaiting his trail.

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Rolling Stone under fire for giving Boston Bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev star treatment on cover

  1. I can see how people would find it insensitive, but no one has any issues when Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, etc are on the covers. I agree the picture makes him look more gentle/flattering, but it’s time to move the attention from the victims to the terrorist… and getting justice FOR those victims.

    • “I agree the picture makes him look more gentle/flattering”

      So in other words, you are angry that Tsarnaev doesn’t fit your description of a terrorist? This has nothing to do with Rolling Stones, but your own biases. You’re angry that your RS cover does not confirm your prototype of a terrorist.

      • I think either you didn’t read the article or didn’t read the comment, or both.

  2. Why not put the picture of the child he killed on the next cover

  3. “Who’s next? George Zimmerman?”

    Oh, you mean that guy who has been found to be not guilty of any crime by a court of law? Rolling Stone readers, I swear…

  4. What I find offensive about this cover is that the magazine is outright labelling him as a ‘monstrous terrorist’. Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? Rolling Stone should be ashamed of such blatant negative propaganda.

  5. Worst things have been done on covers of magazines like Time calling Hitler the Man of the Year and naming Stalin that honour twice.

    • Not ‘man of the year’…it’s ‘newsmaker of the year’. And it’s not an honour.

  6. please … 90% of you all haven’t even read the article inside, stop judging a book by its cover

  7. What I find really curious is that now we have dozens of websites (like this one) bashing Rolling Stone for “glorifying criminals”…..and yet ALL of them are posting pictures of that cover page? Who is really glorifying criminals here? It’s because of websites like this one that hundreds of thousands more people are actually seeing that guy’s photo.

  8. I understand the cover, you people opposing the article are dumb. It says what it needs to say in the title, “How could this innocent looking kid be brainwashed”. I goes for all of the American children committing suicide and hate crimes. Children, teenagers and young adults are too weak these days.

    You fools look at a cover and make your own story up.

  9. Totally classless and a chickensh*t ploy to sell more magazines. If it bleeds, it leads. Toilet paper has more integrity than this trash.

  10. The only people complaining are those that don’t want to acknowledge the fact that this kid, up to a certain point, led an ordinary life. The picture is PERFECT as it captured a person at a moment in his life where he could have led a successful and normal life.

  11. “Our hearts go out to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, and our thoughts are always with them and their families.” Oh really…clearly you sat down in the editing room…knew what kind of response this would generate, knew how it would make the actual victims feel and still made the decision to post what is clearly a “rock star” type photograph of this young man. Then you have the gall to say your thoughts are with the victims and their families!!!