Rolling Stone is coming under fire for its decision to put Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on its cover.

The image depicts Tsarnaev with tousled hair staring into the camera with a somewhat seductive look in his eyes. Many have accused Rolling Stone of glamorizing the terrorism suspect by playing up his looks along side the headline, “How a popular, promising student was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam and became a monster.”

Rolling Stone has defended its decision, releasing a statement 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 glossy added: “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.”

Many are outraged about the magazine’s decision to feature Tsarnaev. Some of the bombing victims called the move “disgusting” and many stores including CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid said they would not sell the issue. Boston mayor Thomas Menino lambasted Rolling Stone’s decision, calling it “ill-conceived” and saying it “rewards a terrorist with celebrity treatment.”

While the controversy around the cover continues, the provocative image has kept Rolling Stone’s name in the press, which is a win for the magazine. Though some have vowed not to purchase the issue, I’m sure many others will flock to newsstands to see exactly what all the fuss is about.

What do you think? Did Rolling Stone cross the line? 

  • Liddy

    I am from Boston. The Marathon was just months ago. Its a little too soon and a poor decision by Rolling Stone. They could have waited just a little longer OR maybe have put the emphasis on the amazing heroes of the day or the brave survivors.

  • Lisss

    I love how he was “failed by his family” and “fell into radical Islam”. White priviledge at its best. Had this guy been arab, or God forbid, black, there would have been none of this wording to make him seem like a victim. But since he is white, and good-looking, lets make him a rock star!

  • Marisa

    Something tells me they won’t put Aaron Hernandez on the cover anytime soon, and this same magazine put Charles Manson on the cover though so this is right up their alley.

  • Tina

    They tried to be too cute by half. They wanted to be shocking to generate buzz and increase sales but since so many retailers are refusing to carry this issue it may end up as a major fail. BOOM!

  • jamesfrmphilly

    BTW : what was the narrative about the brother in UK?

  • Annoyed

    No. As a decades long subscriber, I look forward to reading the article for substance. I didn’t flip out when TIME made the Ayatollah Khomeni man of the year either. RS does investigative reporting and they do it well, unlike most pop culture/music magazines that mostly deal in sleaze and superficiality.

  • Anthony

    Yep, Trayvon looked like a thug, Dzhokhar “looks like the boy next door.”

  • Deb

    they know what they did. They posted an attractive, normalizing picture of a murderer. I understand it goes with the byline for the story but still…People will get upset because it’s all too soon for some and RS posted it because it would attract more attention. Print media is dying so you got to do what you got to do.

  • Kelley Johnson

    No. Terrorists make the covers of magazines all the time. People are just mad because this guy does not fit their stereotype of what a terrorist should be. If he were brown and Arab looking, they’d have no problem with this. But since he looks like their sons or one of those teen idols on their daughter’s wall, they wanna cry foul.

    This entire controversy is about white folks not wanting to be portrayed as terrorists. Period. He isn’t the first terrorist to make a magazine cover and he won’t be the last.

  • mEE

    from what I’ve heard, isn’t the point of the article to examine why/how a “normal” kid like this (who takes faux model selfies) ends up becoming a terrorist?
    if so then the cover is an appropriate choice

  • Deb

    I agree with you but just the fact that he even had this sort of almost sympathetic article about him written with that sort of picture shows how his white privilege works for him. Imagine any publication printing a similar article, byline and photograph regarding any recent brown/arab American born turned terrorist in recent memory. None of them were born radical. They were like this fool and his brother at one point.

    I know if he got a glimpse of this publication in prison, he’d have the biggest smirk on his face like he did in court. I kill, injure and terrorize a whole city in a mission for my beliefs and still get to see a pretty nice picture of me plastered on Rolling Stone!

  • geenababe

    I get this magazine for free so most likely I will be receiving this one. To be honest I really have no opinion on the cover, I just feel nothing. I’m pretty sure other infamous men have been on the covers of magazine before.

  • Marketing Gimmicks

    If he were black and guilty of bombing the Boston Marathon would said accused person snag a mag cover?

    I think nought.

  • Shanti

    What brother in the UK? If you are talking about the two animals that hacked an innocent man to death I remember the news media discussing the fact that they were regular young men from London, who were raised by Nigerian immigrant, and attended university but had been radicalized. Basically the same story as Tsarnaev. Not sure what point you are trying to make.

  • annieattango

    I went way too far.What will the next cover be – George Zimmerman with wings and a halo?

  • Kacey

    The problem is, by “normal kid” they mean “white kid”. If this guy had been from the Middle East or Africa there would be no examination, because the assumption is that Arabs and Africans just “naturally” become terrorist.

    Why didn’t they do a similar piece on the underwear bomber from Nigeria? He was young, wealthy and good-looking. Wouldn’t his history have made an equally interesting read? No, they figured, nobody wants to read about that.

    We need to not take what is presented to us in the media at face value. There are a lot of underlying agendas and motivations behind what is reported and how it is reported. These reporters are not impartial observers. They are trying to humanize this terrorist, only because the color of his skin defies their expectations of what a terrorist is supposed to look like.

  • donnadara

    I don’t really see how this is different from OJ Simpson being on the cover of Newsweek and Time during his trial.

  • SMH

    He’s portrayed as a little cherub faced boy next door as is Zimmerman but Trayvon is portrayed as the violent thug. Remind me again which ones deliberately killed and/or maimed people who were simply minding thier business.

  • donnadara

    I read the article. It is pretty sympathetic to him. They talked to people who were his friends in high school who are shocked. I noticed that they did not talk to many people who knew him in college when he was most likely being radicalized. It definitely seems to be serving an agenda. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an article about a suspected terrorist that had any sympathy in it since Sept. 11. I don’t seem to remember even any in-depth reporting to try to find out why the person did it. Maybe I missed it.

  • Treece

    “…RS posted it because it would attract more attention. Print media is dying so you got to do what you got to do.”

    Bottom line right here.

  • Kacey

    The differences: Those covers were not sympathetic portrayals of OJ, and OJ had not openly confessed to any role in the murders.

  • Hollywood

    That boy wasn’t the least bit good looking.

  • Shanti

    I don’t expect anyone to agree with me but I think everyone needs to calm down until the actual story comes out. The cover is intended to “hook” people and make them want to read. Would anyone be willing to read if the cover said ” this guy is a murderer and loser”? No, because we already know that. In this society it appears that people always want to be upset about something without digging deeper. I think this story has rooms to be a good one highlighting the fact that the face of terrorism is changing. It could potentially help showcase how succeptable today’s youth are to online radicalism. As Americans we need to stop getting upset over whatever the news media tells us to be upset about and embrace critical thinking. Good media is suppose to spark conversation and tell the difficult stories. I applaud Rolling Stone in taking a risk when so much of today’s media is focusing on baby North West and the new royal baby.

  • Shanti

    The underwear bomber didn’t kill anyone. His plan failed. There is no story in a failed attempt.

  • Annoyed

    Thank you for this. Time magazine put the Columbine killers on not one but two covers. One picture looked plucked from a yearbook. Time put bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and Hitler on covers. Should magazines not put pictures of their featured story on the cover, especially if they happen to be attractive? Just like Ted Bundy and the Columbine killers, this accused terrorist seemed like a normal person and yet somehow went terribly wrong. That should be the issue. Somebody said this young man looks like a “rock star”and that seems to be what made people crazy. He doesn’t look like a rock star to me because I know what he is accused of. He looks like a monster to me.

  • joe

    The Rolling Stone cover is designed to portray this deranged murderer as a troubled sex symbol. Ths purpose is to sell copies to silly young women. Period.

  • Kaeli

    You are delusional if you think young teenage girls are reading Rolling Stone.

  • Annoyed

    The NYC editorial board and Frank Rich are both quoted today on as calling out this “scandal” as more BS fake outrage. Can’t copy the link but it’s worth reading.

  • joe

    And you are delusional if you believe I said “young teenage girls” are reading Rolling Stone.

  • Kaeli

    I stand corrected but my point is still correct. The majority of Rolling Stone readers are men and the average reader is 35.

  • Deb

    Not surprised. And no, I’ve never seen this sort of article about any terrorist in any major US publication before.

    The rule is, be white passing, attractive and if you commit a crime, you get one or a combo of these: a movie made
    about you (lifetime if you are a white passing woman), a book deal, a flattering magazine cover….and probably more.

    Yep, this society is not demented at all.

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