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.
“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:
Ugh. I'm cancelling my Rolling Stone subscription immediately! Insensitive sensationalists! http://t.co/xXS0IaAfRt
— Andrew Fifield (@_fifield) July 17, 2013
— AKSolarz (@aksolarz) July 17, 2013
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.