Rolling Stone Defends Boston Bomber Cover: 'It Falls Within the Traditions of Journalism'

"Our hearts go out to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing," reads the official statement.

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Rolling Stone magazine defended its latest issue cover featuring Boston Marathon bombings suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev after sparking a massive backlash and a series of debates.

The front page was condemned by several prominent figures of the rock world, such as David Draiman, Dave Navarro and Tommy Lee. The magazine editors recently posted an explanation behind their decision, saying it was crucial for them to "examine the complexities of this issue and gain a more complete understanding of how a tragedy like this happens."

"Our hearts go out to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, and our thoughts are always with them and their families," reads the editors' statement. "The cover story we are publishing this week falls within the traditions of journalism and Rolling Stones 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."

As several major store chains have announced that they will not stock the new edition, Boston City Council President Stephen Murphy dubbed the magazine cover "disgusting," saying that "Rolling Stone has marketed Tsarnaev as a hero, a misunderstood teen, a product of two incompatible cultures."

According to the BBC report, over 15,000 outraged comments were posted on the magazine's Facebook page, massively attacking Rolling Stone and deeming it tasteless.

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95 comments sorted by best / new / date

    DickHardwood
    The tradition being selling out on trendy issues to make a buck? They've been doing that for years.
    Woffelz
    I've never read this magazine, but isn't it supposed to be a music magazine?
    DickHardwood
    "Supposed to be a music magazine" is the most accurate description of Rolling Stone indeed.
    estabon37
    Unless, of course, you count the social and political articles that they've published in pretty much every issue they've released in the last fifty years, some of which have featured as cover stories. It's a music magazine in the way that The Daily Show is a comedy program. Such a description does it little justice. These are the guys who hired Hunter S Thompson, after all.
    christianonbass
    Yeah, in the same way that MTV is the Music Channel. haha. Like MTV, this magazine focuses more on youth culture; trends--including trends in music, maybe, and what they consider music-related issues, such as what it "Feels" like to be a youthful terrorist bomber. Why are liberal media such as Rolling Stone trying to push us into "Understanding" the more extreme sects of Islam? I am confused about this. They treat their women like shit. People complain that Christians are too intolerant, but a Muslim--and I consider one who sets off exploding, makeshift devices for the purpose of hurting people an extreme Muslim--gets rock star status? No? I would say that making "Cover of the Rolling Stone" is the epitome' of rock star status!!
    AngelOfAnarchy.
    Supposed to be but it hasnt been for a while instead of being about music it's been about trashy people that should not exist let alone be glorified such as snookie, whiz kalifa, and other crap people. Used to be about actual musicians that gave their heart to make a sound now its about money gobbling pieces of crap. This magazine used to be about music now it is about pop culture and attention receiving motherf***ers.
    Maiden95
    All that they're doing here is exactly that. Selling out, once again. They are doing exactly what this country doesn't need... that's making this guy a celebrity. So f*cking ridiculous.
    cwm1990
    Im pretty sure people have already heard of him and im sure hes made headline news somewhere at some point, i think it was something called the boston marathon, im sure i saw his face on a few front covers of magazines and news papers, I think we refer to this gy as a villain, or terrorist, or the enemy or maybe i should learn how to open the magazine and learn how to read so that i have a better understanding of what the this is about. I do like instagram though!!!!
    ][v][ETAL
    Yea, **** putting him on a Magazine cover and make him famous, **** that... .I would much rather have his face plastered all over the news so the world can see, at least he isn't on a magazine cover.... *sarcasm....
    The_Dayman
    Pretty much. I don't think they're glorifying Tsarnaev in any way. I just think they're using his image to sell copies. That's still disgusting.
    nboyjn
    I hate Rolling Stone, they're a shit magazine, but why is this so offensive? Time magazine has featured Hitler on their cover before and they were obviously not glorifying Nazism. The only negative consequence about this that i can come up with - and it's kind of a stretch - is that today's youth is obsessed with being famous and they might see it as their ticket to notoriety.
    tyler_j
    I'm sure it's been said before, but does anyone remember Rolling Stone put Charles Manson on the cover once?
    christianonbass
    Yes, RS did have Charles Manson on their cover; but that was a little different (haha). They didn't have Photoshop then, and Manson was far less photogenic than this guy no matter how much airbrushing they did. Even when RS tried drawing cute little smiley faces out of fresh pig's blood to go with Little Charlie's hand-carved swastika they just couldn't portray him as the loveable, huggable, shiny and happy little sweetie that he was. j/k You don't believe the truth is stranger than fiction? At least Charlie Manson was a musician. Although he wrote a song that actually got released on a Beach Boy's album, I don't think that qualifies him for Rolling Stone. I'm not making this part up!
    Joeseye
    Yeah. I hate it when they glorify their actions. I'm 99% it's why they do it.
    GabeWang
    you think their cover is offensive you should see who they think the best guitarists of all time are
    manyscissors
    ha yeah for me they lost all credibility when they did that (not that they had much in my eyes anyway after I read the reviews they made of some classic albums when they first came out) Sure it's hard to make a list of the top 100 guitarists but they didn't need to do it quite that badly - SRV isn't even in the top ten and Keith Richards is! There are also various other travesties in it which I won't list and can probably be found in the comments section on that list.
    Deflection
    Rolling Stone is to the music industry what The Onion is to news.
    AngryChad
    That's an insult to The Onion. At least The Onion's sometimes poignant humor evokes intelligent discussion.
    Animadantis
    Remember folks this is the magazine that said Zeppelin was shit (uninteresting) when they fist appeared, and now they talk about them as if they were gods...They have pretty much always hopped on the bandwagon whenever possible. Sure they had Hunter S. Thompson, but its nothing more than a pop rag these days.
    sonofgkex
    Rolling Stone pulls crap like this all the time in order to get page hits. I always found Rolling Stone to be ultra-liberal, and the magazine always seemed to come off as elitist to me.
    EqualOfHeaven
    Whether or not it's conscious or deliberate, this is part of the long-standing tradition of glorifying psychotic murderers and villains, ignoring the victims. It's well known to law enforcement how the media affects instances of serial murder and other desperate grabs for notoriety, the FBI even warns journalists each time one of these spree killings or terrorist attacks occur not to name the suspect or show their picture. Yet each and every time, the media worships murderers and terrorists like rockstars. So I can definitly see why people are offended by this. Of course there are many more factors to consider besides notoriety when analysing the motivations behind acts of murder and terrorism. At the very least though, the media should take responsibility for it's contribution.
    Tonganation
    The problem is people want to know the names of these people, mostly for closure. That's why the media reports so much on such stories, and I fail to see how that glorifies them at all. It definitely isn't worship when all of America and the media are denouncing them. If they didn't report such things people would always have these burning questions of who was responsible and why did this happen. I think these questions need answers and that people who do these kinds of things need to be remembered for their atrocities.
    xstatic44
    Do you watch Criminal Minds? I've learned everything I know about criminology from that show. Spot on, sir.
    nicholsonisgod
    I'm not a fan of RS either, but it's not hard to see this, really. Besides, I took my time to read the article about the bomber, and there's no glorifying or praising whatsoever. Most of the article is copy and paste of the terrorist's thoughts, like having a troubled home, becoming increasingly alienated, becoming a religious fundamentalist, and so it goes. It captures what any psychologist would tell the world about mass murderers and terrorists. The article being published in a moment like this is not going to make any substantial influence on future terrorist acts, since it has been all over the media for months now. I struggle to find why people are putting the blame solely on RS and not on the millions of tabloids, newspapers and news channels that have been exploiting the issue to sick extents, by the way. A terrorist attack is going to hit the media no matter what. To imply that commenting about them and making studies on the murderers/terrorists' minds is going to make other psychos like the Boston bomber come out, and ignore other side issues that are, btw, taken into account by RS' article, is simply asinine. But what's worse is calling anyone who disagrees that this is a terrorist bait a "ultra-liberal, sympathetic to psychos". Besides, RS never was only about music. It always discussed what's trending in popular culture. I don't see why people are all losing their shit. It's not even the first time a murderer makes it into a RS cover.
    sideslick
    It provides a motivation to be a monster. That seems to be what the anger is about. People have used the cover as motivation to work their whole lives to get good at their respective-art (music, movies, TV, etc.) and then they go and put this - thing - on the cover. Who in their right mind would want to have anything in-common with the piece of trash that is "The Bomber"? I know I wouldn't want to be on the list of cover-people when Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is on it. Sure, the article might just be the best thing ever written, but the presentation sucks like nothing-else.
    Jehuty
    I'd argue that the people who can be motivated by a cover like this to "be a monster" probably already have serious issues regarding their psychological stability. No one that has stable mental health would be influenced to become a mass murderer like Tsarnaev, purely from seeing him on the cover of a magazine. As terrible as those bombings were, I can only admire Rolling Stone for attempting to provide us with valuable insights to how he came to be like this, and to help us realize that with structural pressure on ones psyche, anyone could crack, even an attractive young man like Tsarnaev.
    nicholsonisgod
    That's where the confusion is. RS has indeed become a place where musicians are heard, new musicians are featured, etc, but it was never RS' intention to be solely a music magazine. They have always made room for a variety of topics to be studied and commented. With that, they are entitled to make a non-music subject the cover for an edition, no matter how "offending" or controversial it may be. And, in all honesty, people who follow their publications should be aware of that. I had read RS only 3 or 4 times before the current one, that I took the time to read because of this shitstorm, and it was clear to me that while they had a focus on music, it was not ENTIRELY a music magazine. Why don't musicians feel offended by having to share the front page of a newspaper with criminals, but they feel so by having to share the front of Rolling Stone, which is also a multi-purpose magazine?
    EqualOfHeaven
    Such information is relevant to law enforcement perhaps, consideration could be given to declassifying information maybe a decade or so after the incident. What I can't understand is why we get to know all this stuff about a murderer and not the struggles and conflicted emotions of the victims and their families. I'm as liberal as it gets, but I don't believe the media can act with impunity in this matter, many serial/spree killers in the past have openly said their motivation for commiting such acts was purely notoriety. Putting the Boston bomber on a magazine cover reserved for Rock and Popstars is more or less DEFINITLY going to put thoughts in the next psycotic narcisist's head.
    nicholsonisgod
    Such information is relevant to the people too. There's no reason to not keep the masses aware of the reasons why murderers and terrorists act. In fact, I belive such transparence from the authorities and psychologists is more than useful and is a matter of common well-being. Besides, we do get lots of stories showing the victims side and their families everyday on the press (even though in a superficial way), and it doesn't take much to know that the victims of murders are devastated. It's much more complex in a terrorist's head. The media is and should be responsible for what they put out, and it's irresponsible as **** that they twist and turn cases like this until they bleed indeed. What needs to be taken into account though, is that such article was published in the eye of the storm, so it's pointless to put the blame on RS alone and not the press as a whole. Even worse, to blame them for the next terrorist attack or whatever. Also, it shouldn't give terrorists and shooters any special kind of hard-on, since Rolling Stone was never SOLELY a music magazine, despite covering the music world a lot. Like I've said, it's not even the first time a murderer makes it into the cover. Charles Manson was on the RS cover back in the 60's, for example. PS: lots of people put the blame on RS back then too, yet nothing happened after that. It's actually fallacious to imply this, like our dear twitter rockstars did.
    jrodgers
    With this response, Rolling Stone is just playing dumb and and not even acknowleding the real reason why what they did was so offensive. I read the article, and I'll say that it was fascinating. It was informative, well-written, covered multiple viewpoints, and to be honest was a well put together piece of journalism. I don't think anyone has a problem with the fact that they did this story. But BY #*&%ING GOD ROLLING STONE ..... DONT PASTE HIS FACE ON THE COVER like he's #&*%ing John Lennon or Jimi Hendrix. Thats the only issue here, and they obviously did it to stir the s*** storm that it did and sell magazines.
    Black7Ninja
    They could have done all of this without using his FACE on the front cover. That's what people are angry about. The content is almost irrelevant.
    powachord
    Its blatantly obvious they put him on the cover to generate publicity, and its worked. Perhaps they should have used more tact, and run the story but with someone else on the cover? Of course not, that wouldnt sell.
    xxvenom
    The complexity of the issue...ok? Explain that in court. "Well I didn't really want to kill innocent people..its just...its just...its just MORE COMPLEX THAN THAT!" lol...gtfo. It shouldnt have been fuking printed. Period. For obvious reasons.
    legendaryrock
    The traditions of journalism? Like false headlines, poor grammer and spelling mistakes? ...well UG, now's your opportunity to come forward jk love you UG!!
    gdpunkdude
    Rolling Stone is giving this guy the opposite of what he deserves: attention. The best thing for this country is not spend our time on this individual, but to focus on preventing tragedies like the Boston bombing from happening again.
    My Last Words
    Maybe you could all prevent something if you'd take the time to learn about the insights of the actual bomber, his motives and whatnot by STUDYING the damn guy. But yeah, **** that, let's not spend any time on him. 'Murica.
    lamnoob
    you know...the whole 'Murica thing is getting old quite fast
    nicholsonisgod
    It is appropriate when the only people that are losing their shit because of a multi-purpose magazine cover are right-wing nutcases from the USA though.
    Sammy Mantis
    He has no "motives" or "insights". His own uncle said it best: He and his brother were a couple of bums who came to America, couldn't fit in with the culture, and were angry at those that could, so they decided they would kill people.
    risingsaint
    "and Rolling Stones long-standing commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day" Because people read and view Rolling Stone as some influential, educational literature... You are not some prestigious, editorial medium. Stop acting like you are and admit you did it for shock value.
    steveZ86
    they had charles manson on the cover in the 60's, its not a new thing. they also had britney spears and shit like that. there must be quite a thrill that gets ya when you get your picture on the cover of the rolling stone.
    Megadeth2011
    I just don't see how they could defend it. They slap a picture of a murderer on the cover that is made to portray him as another teen heartthrob who has the looks of somebody in a poppy boy band. I read the article because I really wanted to see how they would portray him, and I can sum it all up with this: "promising and intelligent college student smokes lots of weed and is misunderstood by all. Sure, he might be a terrorist, but it's not his fault!" I never did like Rolling Stone, but this is way over the line.
    Tonganation
    The fact that his picture is on the cover is meant to show that the face of terrorism isn't what you think it is. It's never saying terrorism is glamorous, it's saying that there is another side to the monsters that we see commit these acts. I think the human element matters when discussing these people because they didn't start out as monsters cabable of wreaking such destruction. We need to profile them and figure out the factors in their life that led them to take such stances and actions, and that's what the Rolling Stone article did. The article deconstructed him, but never apologized for him.
    christianonbass
    There are some retailers who are refusing to sell that specific issue of Rolling Stone. Good for them. I appreciate people when they put principles before the almighty dollar.
    vel_rev
    That is a cheap excuse. Of course it falls within the traditions of journalism. BUT it's immature, stupid, and uncalled for. It's a huge slap in the face to both the dead and surviving victims and their families. There is no excuse for that cover. And don't feed us this religious BS or that he made a few bad choices and took a wrong turn in his life. That's a load of BS. RS is BS. Rolling Stone is a teenage girl with no friends looking for attention. I'm done reading their magazine, which I should've done a long time ago.
    Iommianity
    They really dodged the issue completely. No one raised a stink because it wasn't 'traditional journalism', they were offended because they felt it was callous and in extremely poor taste, regardless of the context or precedent. Personally, I don't care what they put on their magazine, it's up to people to decide for themselves if it's for them, and in cases like this, up to stores to stock it in the first place. If they were going to put out the issue anyways, this ham fisted explanation isn't really going to placate anybody, nor does it make RS seem less desperate.
    GenerationKILL
    Once upon a time Rolling Stone magazine put John Lennon on its cover. A man of peace and vision. Now they've put a little ***** on the cover of their magazine who's a symbol of the exact opposite. They've only done this to sell a few more editions using exploitation. Now the friends and families of the victims will have to walk past his face in supermarkets, corner stores, book stores and who knows wherever else this leftist bullshit rag will sold, haunted by him again while trying to make their best efforts to move on a heal. Rolling Stone magazine has had a long ignorant tradition of missing the point completely and this is just another example of that cluelessness. A magazine for the people? I think not. Because nobody I know is happy with this.
    DrCOOL
    "the age group as many of our readers" I wasn't aware you still had any. I hope this is finally the nail in the coffin for that magazine. They needed to end it long ago.
    guitarist5477
    Read 'Classic Rock' magazine, leave 'Rolling Stone' to sit on the shelf. It'll make you a much happier person. If not, I'll give you my address and you can have your way with my sister.
    jordo246
    Damn right, in RS's list of best guitar players they put Dimebag at 92 or something and The Edge at like number 20 something, I don't care if he's more famous he is no where near the player Dime was.
    TheLiza97
    i agree with you, Classic Rock is much better, but Rolling Stone is, umm, you know it's more fresh. RS has articles about new music, and indie bands too, while Classic Rock stays at classic rock, as it's title shows it. also, RS went to a WRONG direction, when they started to write about Justin Bieber, and stuff. and they put him on the cover too, so i really dunno wtf can i expect from RS...
    DevonDude
    Terrorists often want attention, this will inspire little terrorist boys and girls everywhere.
    Zanary
    This is from the same junk magazine that declares rock music dead constantly, and hasn't had a quality journalist since they let P. J. O'Rourke go.
    ETID666
    I like rolling stone I never bought one and after this cover story probably never will when I read it I skip all the political bullshit and read the articles about the music...when your at the dentist or doctors office you gotta admit its most likely the best magazine to read
    alfie9000
    I read the title thinking Jagger and the band was going to be defending the cover from criticism. Then I realized.
    bustapr
    wasnt the rolling stone once this really huge music magazine? in a music magazine, people dont want to read about a tragedy or see a picture of a terrorist. this is why many people are pissed. rolling stones is selling out to this horrid situation badly and painfully obvious.
    damillion
    Does "don't judge a book by its' cover" ring a bell? Seriously, read the magazine before condemning it.
    Hydra150
    Not many people are condemning the content of the article, but rather many people do see the apparent glorification of this criminal by putting him on the cover as a problem in and of itself.
    lefthandedkid
    To me, just the picture gives it a "We're going to glorify this man". Covering the issue with an article is one thing, and reasonable, and makes sense. However, this puts it over the top. I haven't read Rolling Stone in years, I will continue to not read it, it was terrible anyway.
    DaysofGrace
    I don't totally understand why everyone's freaking out so much. Even under the argument that they're "making him out to be a hero", it does not mean that you, or anyone else for that matter, need to agree with that portrayal. Nor does it mean that anyone will be swayed by it. Quit being so damn butthurt and let the press have their freedom.
    lamnoob
    The problem with freedom of the press, is that when the founding fathers put the framework together, they assumed that people would be responsible with it, and not use it as a shield for printing blatant lies, acting like TMZ, and otherwise acting like spoiled 12 year olds who just got told no for the first time in their lives.
    myap0calypse99
    Religious moderates provide cover for these religious extremist because the foundation of why they bomb people (like 9/11) is off of faith based claims. They talk about how this is horrible (which it is) but don't realize faith is the same way they've reached their epistemology. That's the same thing they use for their religious beliefs, they don't want to undermine their own bullshit. We need to admit that these bad things are happening off of people that come to their violence through unreliable conclusions aka faith.
    BogWraith
    Considering the fact that the bombers are European heroes, I'd say the cover photo is perfect.
    Eifler121
    You suck for saying that. No American would show any kind of support for those behind the Madrid attack, or any other attack that resulted in the deaths of innocent people. I can't believe that Europe sees this person as a hero, and I hope you're simply a troll at best trying to get a rise out of people.
    BogWraith
    There is huge anti-American sentiment in Europe, and rightfully so. Most Europeans are angry that we are still part of NATO (North Atlantic Terrorist Organization) and want to see us walk away from it. So yes, the Boston bombers are considered heroes in Europe and most acts of resentment toward North America are met with praise.
    Kylianvb
    Interesting, living in Europe for the past 19 years and all, I have never met anyone with a 'huge anti-American sentiment'.
    damillion
    Europe doesn't see the bombers as heroes. Sure, Europeans don't exactly love the US but it's only a minority of left-wing ****tards and self-hating westerers who have anything positive to say about the bombings, and they're challenged and socially discarded when they do.
    axelgarcia1
    The problem is that glorifying these people on the news is what causes them to go out in extravagant ways
    guitargodwannab
    save your bullshit excuses Rolling Stone, ur just whinning like a lil bitch tht no1 wants to hear from in High School. if u wanted to dig into how this shit happens then put up a memorial page as your cover for all the men and women, runners and emergency workers who risked their lives to save and help others. THATS HOW YOU DO IT #BoycotRollingStone