Rolling Stone Puts Dzhokhar Tsarnaev On The Cover

Rolling Stone Tsarnaev cover

Some are expressing offense over the latest Rolling Stone cover:

Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is on the cover of the latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine, a decision that has sparked a negative reaction online.

The cover, a position normally occupied by rock stars and figures in pop culture, is set to accompany a profile of the one-time UMass Dartmouth student who went to high school in Cambridge.

An online post at about the cover contained more than 1,000 comments, many of them criticizing the decision. On the magazine’s Facebook page, an image of the cover had generated over 10,000 comments, a number of them expressing outrage.

Asked by reporters for reaction to the cover, Governor Deval Patrick said he had heard the article was good journalism, but that he found the cover distasteful.

Tedeschi Food Shops, a convenience store chain with locations in Boston, announced on its Facebook page Wednesday that it will not carry the issue of Rolling Stone in its stores.

“Tedeschi Food Shops supports the need to share the news with everyone, but cannot support actions that serve to glorify the evil actions of anyone,” said the post on the company’s page.

The cover story, “Jahar’s World,” reveals that Tsaranev played down his Muslim faith in high school, once told a friend that terrorist attacks could be justified, and may have been willing to surrender during a standoff in Watertown on April 19 because of a plea from a former wrestling coach

Additionally, CVS, which is based out of New England, has said that it will not be selling this issue of the magazine in its stores.  The story itself does not appear to be available online at this time.

Rolling Stone is no stranger to controversy, of course. Even back during its heyday when it was really much more of a music publication, it put Charles Manson on the cover in connection with a story about his crime spree, although Manson seemed interested in plugging his album. I suppose one could make an argument that it’s still too soon after the bombings for something like this, and I can certainly understand why retailers in the Boston area would be reluctant to stock this particular issue of the magazine. At the same, though, journalism is often provocative and one doesn’t get the impression from descriptions that the article makes Tsarnaev out to be some kind of hero or victim.

So, what’s the consensus? Too soon, or much ado about nothing?

FILED UNDER: Crime, Media, Popular Culture, , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. walt moffett says:

    I see it as much ado about nothing. Freedom of the press means accepting you wil have to pay full cover price to get cat box liner.

    BTW, wonder when it will turn up on a T-Shirt with a “Banned in Boston” over print.

  2. John Peabody says:

    Simply a gutsy move for coverage. RS now being mentioned on cable news networks, with appearence of the classic RS logo. Viewers don’t listen or read TV so much…but they’ll see the logo. Brand placement.

  3. bandit says:

    They should have put the last picture of his brother on the cover.

  4. “This article is a wonderful look at the development of a madman who would hurt thousands, but his picture makes Americans sad. So instead, we will put a fluffy bunny on the cover. Look at the cute bunny! Hoppity-hop!”

  5. CSK says:

    I’m close to the event, and I’m not outraged, though I understand perfectly the feelings of those who are. Perhaps Rolling Stone should have used an enlargement of the surveillance photo that showed a smirking Dzhokhar walking away from little Martin Richard, who didn’t know Dzhokhar had just planted a bomb at his feet. That would have illustrated the true monstrosity of Dzhokhar rather than the Facebook shot RS selected. Anyone who walks away smiling in the full knowledge that he’s about to blow an eight-year-old child to smithereens is the definition of evil.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Much ado about nothing, but you knew I would say that.

  7. @Christopher Bowen:

    They could have done a cover that doesn’t use a picture that seems to suggests Tsarnaev is the new Justin Beiber.

  8. TheColourfield says:

    They should be ashamed, that’s not real journalism like the New York Post and their cover story on the bombings.

  9. PD Shaw says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: No, I thought you were going to say “They still publish Rolling Stone?” Then I’ll say it.

  10. Anderson says:

    The news inspired me to verse:

    We got a lot of little teenage suicide bombers
    Who do anything we say,
    We got a genu-wine Shiite Mullah
    Who’s teaching us how to slay,
    We got all the bombs that money can buy,
    Gonna bring back the Caliph’s throne –
    But our blowin’ up places just can’t get our faces
    On the cover of the Rollin’ Stone!

  11. Anonne says:

    A ginormous nothingburger.

  12. CSK says:

    The truly sad thing is that if the kid looked like a gargoyle, no one would object to a full-face cover shot of him–and he also wouldn’t have the idiotic fan club that he does.

  13. Jenos Idanian says:

    Pity they couldn’t have gotten Jill Greenberg to take the photos of this little turd.

    On second thought, she’d have probably come up with an even more glamorous picture.

  14. Woody says:

    Meh – “respectable” publications like the NYT and Time magazine have placed all sorts of bad people on their covers with no fuss.

    It’s probably because he looks like a young hipster rather than a Batman Supervillain.

  15. anjin-san says:

    Bin Laden was on magazine covers. As was Hitler, Al Capone, John Gotti, and so on, and so on.

    What is the problem here? They call him a “monster” right there on the cover.

    Should we have Issa launch an investigation?

  16. anjin-san says:

    Tsarnaev may be a murdering bastard, but he is also photogenic. That’s what he looks like people. Deal with it, there are better things to be outraged about.

  17. anjin-san,

    Indeed, Hitler and Stalin were both named Time’s “Man of the Year”

  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @PD Shaw: That is Jenos’ line.

    Been meaning to tell you after a recent thread (in which you mentioned “Johnson Shut-Ins” ) if’ns ya get down to Misery on a regular basis, ya need to buy a copy of “Missouri Geological Wonders and Curiosities“. I know most of the people (peripherally) that contributed to it and I can say with out reservation that, “Ya won’t regret it.”

    A good book.

    ps: I am not a little strange some of the time. I am a little strange ALL of the time>.

  19. PD Shaw says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I think the word I was going for might have been “colorful.” I’ll take a look at the book, we like to take weekend trips to states with err. . . topography. Take a break from the corn. I think I talked with an indiana bat expert in that department for a case I was working on once, he was very accommodating and educational, but he’s probably retired by now.

  20. Electroman says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Only if you can find the first edition (the one that was bound in green). The more recent edition(s) had a lot of material removed, apparently to placate the owners of the featured places, most of which are on private property. I’m not a Missourian but my parents live in the Missouri Ozarks now so I’m a regular visitor.

  21. al-Ameda says:

    Whatever, it’s Rolling Stone, who cares?

  22. Grewgills says:

    I heard a snippet on NPR and it seems the story is about how he seemed so normal to all of the people close to him just before he committed this atrocity. The normal picture of him is the best illustration of what the story is about. Well, that and they new it would gin up some controversy to bump up sales.