July 21st, 2013
11:44 AM ET
10 years ago

McCain: Rolling Stone cover was ‘stupid’

(CNN) – Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, didn’t hold back in expressing how he felt about Rolling Stone magazine’s cover featuring accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

“I thought it was stupid,” McCain said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I thought it was horrifying.”

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The magazine’s decision sparked strong public backlash, with many saying the cover was insensitive to the victims. Three prominent New England-based businesses - CVS pharmacies, Stop & Stop, and Tedeschi Food Shops - announced they would not sell that edition.

But others, including the magazine itself, defended the decision, saying the story is about how a young man popular with his friends became someone who could perpetrate such a violent act.

“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,” the magazine said in a statement.

But McCain said it was “inappropriate” for the magazine to prominently feature someone who’s “responsible for the taking of innocent lives.

“But for me to tell them to pull their magazine from the bookshelves, at newsstands, it's not up to me to do that. I think most Americans surrender to judgment on that,” he told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.

“Rolling Stone probably got more publicity than they've had in 20 years,” he added.

Filed under: John McCain • State of the Union
soundoff (177 Responses)
  1. saywhat

    What the guys at Rolling Stones were thinking? What was point to this ?
    Especially when Bostonians were trying to get over that horror. I think it was provocative.

    July 21, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  2. Dio forever

    Doesn't mean it's good publicity.

    July 21, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  3. gary a. robertson

    Every time McCain opens his mouth he just comes across as a bitter old man.
    time to retire.

    July 21, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  4. Bill in Florida

    After the 9/11 attacks, bin Laden's face was EVERYWHERE. After the Boston Marathon bombings, the Tsarnaev brothers faces were EVERYWHERE. I don't why understand why people are singling out Rolling Stone, when every other media outlet in the US showed Dhzokhar's face two months ago.

    July 21, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  5. apey_lady

    "horrifying"? Why don't we just roll over and show terrorists their tactics DUDE.. stupid y tu!

    July 21, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  6. BK

    “Rolling Stone probably got more publicity than they've had in 20 years,” he added.

    Bingo. RS knows what they're doing. For every person who says they won't buy the mag, there are probably 5 more who will just because of the controversy.

    July 21, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    I agree Senator McCain.

    July 21, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  8. Uncle Sam

    Publicity may be good, but I am not buying their magazine.

    July 21, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  9. Hogarth

    Pot, meet kettle.

    July 21, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  10. Gort1

    McCain has no business calling others stupid......seriously?

    July 21, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  11. Hookay Dookay

    Freedom of Speech-Okay. I can't tell a publisher what to print, but the RS issued statement of RS being sensitive to
    the feelings of families and victims sounds contradictory. More publicity than any in 20 yrs.? Big deal and whoohoo for
    RS. I can't say it's "blood money," but it still has a putrid stink to it.

    July 21, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  12. Ronk

    I never buy the Rolling Stone rag anyway, seems like I have the right idea. Show your opinion, simply do not buy the magazine for the next few months and they will get the message where it matters, their wallet.

    July 21, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  13. Freedom of Speech

    I get the whole freedom of speech thing. Problem is, its a Music Mag. If it were TIME magazine or some other news magazine i would understand. And im no prude. In the words of Nikki Sixx "I know journalism isn’t pretty when you have the face of evil staring back at you but why put him on the cover of a supposed music oriented magazine? You treat him with the same honor as those of us who have made the cover based on our craft?"

    July 21, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  14. DonnaP

    Cant wait to read the story

    July 21, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  15. Leah K.

    Then again, McCain has called the president of Spain (our long time ally), a rogue dictator in the international media.He's not exactly playing with a full deck.

    July 21, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  16. Mossy Stone

    I believe the main reason for the outrage was because the picture glamourized him and made him look like a rock star. The pictures of bin Laden were not such glamour shots.

    July 21, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  17. iowajoe56

    The cover on RS did exactly what it intended to do. Start a conversation and get people interested in the well done story about how someone turns down the path of total disregard for others because of an ideology. Anyone, even a curly haired young man can harbor 'true believer' righteousness of an absolutist mentality. It is that mentality that we need to understand better, not whether it comes in a pleasing package.

    July 21, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  18. Dapple

    @Bill in Florida

    Because people people live in la-la land.

    July 21, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  19. George

    Then don't buy it John. Why do people get so teary eyed so easily? It's illogical.

    July 21, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  20. The Lost Surveyor

    More free PR for Rolling Stone. When will these knuckle draggers realize that the more you publicize something the more successful it is. The more you rant about this and keep it in the spotlight the more money they will make. What part of this is difficult to understand? Your playing right into it.

    July 21, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  21. Dom

    “The fact that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is young, and in the same age group as many of our readers"

    Most young adults (college age) do not read paper magazines. They read articles of interest on the internet.

    July 21, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  22. Littlemo

    There is a HUGE difference in picture OBL and other terroists as the subjectof an aritlce and the way RS presented this. They've made him look like a folk hero. If they wanted to present him as he was, show the pics of him and his brother walking along the route of the race when they were planting the bombs – there are enough of them. Show him for what he is – don't make him look as if he's llike everyone else – he's not.

    July 21, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  23. LeadPoop

    Funny. I feel the same thing about McCain and his total disregard for the Constitution. The illegal NSA spying, the NDAA, and the government assault on our constitutional rights!

    July 21, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  24. Oscar

    Rolling Stone magazine should move their HQ to Pakistan. Hope nobody purchase this against US edition and furthers.
    I am not an US born but Rolling Stone's move is unacceptable.

    July 21, 2013 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  25. Danny

    Invading Iraq with faulty intelligence was stupid. Pushing to invade Syria and get involved in another conflict is stupid. Living off of your wife's wealth is stuid. Picking Sarah Palin as a running-mate ws stupid. John McCain is SO unqualified to decide what is stupid. THe RS cover was alittle insensitive, but thought-provoking.

    July 21, 2013 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
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