Outrage over Rolling Stone Cover story of Boston Bomber
I used to get Rolling Stone until 2010, when they ran a smear piece on General McChrystal and I called and cancelled. It's certainly their right constitutionally speaking to write whatever they want that isn't libelous, but then again it is my right as a consumer not to pay for it. I thought that article went too far, and from the point of view of a guy who does embeds with the military I have to keep stressing to units that "I'm not from Rolling Stone or the New York Times, I'm here to stress the positive."
On top of that, I am a native Massachusian. I love my Red Sox, I love my Patriots, I love the Bruins, I love UMASS Basketball (more than my wife is comfortable with,) and I love chowder. I even have a Boston Terrier I named Fenway. (He's my little black and white monster.) So, the Rolling Stone cover sort of had a visceral reaction with me too.
Today we have a Big Q up on the Legion website (you can vote HERE) that my boss even asked me to write. I told him that I wouldn't, probably in a more angry tone than I should have. The whole thing really makes me mad.
A lot of folks will likely say that I should read the article before I cast aspersions. Yeah, I'm not going to do that. The article could clearly talk about what a monster this guy is (and it even says that in the title) but either way my feeling is that he shouldn't be on the cover of something like this, certainly not in the same pose as the Doors' Jim Morrison. But Rolling Stone feels differently of course, as they make clear in the statement in the picture above.
Nonetheless, reaction has been swift. Twitchy.com has been monitoring the Twitter reaction since the beginning, and has some pretty choice quotes from companies, Bostonians and other Americans disgusted by it:
Actor James Woods: First Amendment protects Rolling Stone, but nobody had to buy that $#!^ rag. Boycott Rolling Stone. Put it out of business...
Dancing with the Stars' Tom Bergeron: Just saw the latest @RollingStone cover. Unbelievable. Was this instead of their Al-Qaeda swimsuit edition?
David Draiman of the band Disturbed: TO ALL OF MY COLLEAGUES AND FRIENDS IN THE INDUSTRY, PLEASE JOIN ME IN TAKING A STAND AGAINST GLORIFYING TERRORISM. #BoycottRollingStone
Actor James Van Der Beek: Rolling Stone - No matter what the content of the article might be, you DO realize your cover space is all about glorification, right?
Singer/Songwriter Brad Paisley: I have to say, the Rolling Stone Magazine cover with the bomber is in poor taste. We shouldn't make rock stars out of murderers.
MLB Pitcher Brad Ziegler: Never going to read Rolling Stone magazine again after this: http://fxn.ws/16J0c6V
Even Boston Mayor Menino, a man seldom noted for his great speaking ability leaped into the fray: Your August 3 cover rewards a terrorist with celebrity treatment...To respond to you in anger is to feed into your obvious marketing strategy...The survivors of the Boston attacks deserve Rolling Stone cover stories, though I no longer feel that Rolling Stone deserves them. (More on that at the bottom of this post.)
Meanwhile the response from retailers hasn't been much better for Rolling Stone:
Kmart: Kmart will not be selling copies of the new Rolling Stone magazine out of respect for those impacted by the events of April 15th.
Rite Aid: Out of respect to everyone affected by the Boston Marathon bombing, Rite Aid has decided not to sell the latest issue of Rolling Stone.
CVS: We have decided to not sell the current issue of Rolling Stone, out of respect for the victims and their loved ones.
Walgreens: Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. Walgreens will not be selling this issue of Rolling Stone magazine.
Naturally others are complaining that the article wasn't fair to the alleged (which is to say not YET convicted) bomber, with some continuing to claim it is all a hoax:
Dear Rolling Stone magazine, 'The Bomber' ? Prove it. Sincerely, you dont know anything.
How dare you judge someone when you have no right to. I hope you get sued for defamation and slandering Jahar's name.
As the Washington Post’s Erik Wemple points out, the image is exploitative—but it isn’t just exploitative: It’s also smart, unnerving journalism. By depicting a terrorist as sweet and handsome rather than ugly and terrifying, Rolling Stone has subverted our expectations and hinted at a larger truth. The cover presents a stark contrast with our usual image of terrorists. It asks, “What did we expect to see in Tsarnaev? What did we hope to see?” The answer, most likely, is a monster, a brutish dolt with outward manifestations of evil. What we get instead, however, is the most alarming sight of all: a boy who looks like someone we might know.
By way of contrast, it should be noted that Rolling Stone has a monthly subscription rate of 1.4 million. The American Legion Magazine has 2.2 million, but because it is shared so freely, our actual readership is 3.4 million.
The Boston sports blog "Barstool Sports" [which is probably not safe for normal work traffic] has been making mock-ups of what they felt the cover should have been instead. Now this is a magazine cover that I would have been proud to purchase.