Rolling Stone magazine has come under fire for the cover of its next issue that shows the surviving Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev looking almost angelic, nothing like a man charged with killing three people and wounding hundreds.
Major retail chains such as CVS and Walgreens have said they will not sell this issue, and readers left angry posts on Rolling Stone’s Facebook page such as this one: “This makes me sick to my stomach, he shouldn't be treated like some star.”
In the cover picture Tsarnaev looks almost angelic with tousled hair - some people found it Bob Dylan-like. Most unlike a terrorist handed a 30-count indictment in June, that could get him the death penalty if convicted.
The picture on the cover is not new - was widely used around the time of Tsarnaev’s arrest. And its treatment (going under a bold headline “The Bomber”) or the story going inside is neither laudatory nor sympathetic to him.
But it has kicked up a storm.
“Your August 3 cover rewards a terrorist with celebrity treatment. It is ill-conceived, at best, and re-affirms a terrible message that destruction gains fame for killers and their ‘causes,” Boston mayor Thomas Menino wrote in a letter to Rolling Stone.
Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick called the cover “out of taste”.
While the outrage will not be entirely unwelcome at the magazine, for the unpaid publicity, even if bad, it brought, its editors sought to address it with a statement saying the cover “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 magazine had faced a similar backlash in 1970 for its cover on Charles Manson, who is serving a life term now for multiple murders committed by members of his organization called the Manson Family.