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. Josh

    The inability of many but especially the right wing to have nuanced thinking and critical reasoning is astounding....the point of the article in many ways is the paradox of what appear to be a clean cut kid adapting to American ways who then committed a horrible disgusting crime.....they state clearly on he cover that he became a monster....the reaction is mostly just a knee jerk ideological response....

    July 21, 2013 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  2. JohnRJohnson

    This is the same man who put Sarah Palin one heart beat away from the presidency of the United States. He has forfeited any right to call anything or anybody else stupid.

    July 21, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  3. Name C.

    Well i guess Rolling Stone just set off a bomb themselves, eh ?

    July 21, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  4. Oscar

    Instead to be at Rolling Stone magazine it should be at police section in the newspaper.

    July 21, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  5. Aculeius13

    If this cover had run on "Newsweek" (before it ceased printing) or "Time" would people be outraged? I seriously doubt it. In which case, the criticism is that "Rolling Stone" shouldn't run stories about serious topics... which makes no sense. That would just further the cause of "dumbing down" America's media. But I'm more concerned about the constant sense of outrage that public figures seem to maintain against anything that strikes them as un-American or unpatriotic or anything else they like. It's self-aggrandizing and contributes nothing to meaningful discourse. Public figures, and especially leaders like John McCain, should be less-easily outraged by everything and more thoughtful, even when they disagree with other points of view. This kind of comment is one reason why we should all be relieved that John McCain wasn't elected president. We need leaders who are capable of holding back, and of expressing nuanced opinions; not just "angry old men" who say whatever comes into their heads without taking the time to consider their arguments calmly and carefully.

    July 21, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  6. Rick Kacz

    Exploitive media, at its best. Anything to make a buck.

    July 21, 2013 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  7. Jones

    I've heard of stop & shop but this Stop & Stop must be some sort of cheap knock off. I think Rolling Stone has succeeded in doing what they wanted to. I mean hear we are discussing how edgy and topical Rolling Stone is.

    July 21, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  8. ThinkAgain

    OK, all I've done is look at the cover and I don't understand the uproar. Rolling Stone labeled Tsarnaev "the bomber" and said he was a "monster." Isn't that how McCain and the righties him, too?

    Adolf Hitler was Time Magazines's 1938 Man of the Year; Stalin was Time's Man of the Year in 1943; bin Laden was on the cover of Newsweek; Charles Manson was on the cover of Life Magazine; the Columbine killers were on the cover of time; the list goes on and one. (BTW, all of these folks were on the covers of multiple magazines multiple times.)

    It's called investigative journalism. McCain is just trying to score points with the low-information rightie base.


    July 21, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  9. Barry

    How do get your antiquated, out of touch, magazine written by old drug stupid editors public attention? Simple....shock marketing!

    July 21, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  10. tommo

    Isn't it bad enough that the populace at large has grown so stupid over the years? Do we have to put up with "leaders" who pander to that stupidity as well?

    If TIME could use a photo of Hitler on the cover, then why can't Rolling Stone use Tsarnaev? He's news, and that's what journalism is supposed to be about.

    Grow up, people.

    July 21, 2013 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  11. dean morse

    Hitler on Time Mag cover did not stir the kettle? It is a magazine for Gods sake. The bombing was news and deserved to be covered. The uproar is undeserved in my opinion. In fact, the uproar gives the topic more undue exposure than the cover itself. If nothing was said, then there would be no publicity.

    July 21, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  12. Rosslaw

    Most of the listers here seem to grasp the obvious-the point of Rolling Stone's cover was to ask how a model immigrant who actually became a US citizen, popular, a stellar wrestler and athlete, with lots of friends could become a cold blooded killer of the people who welcomed him to this country. For McCain and Co. this is just another chance to look like they are taking a positiion without really doing anything constructive whatsoever. Nothing to see here-keep on moving.

    July 21, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  13. George Dixon

    After that Rolling Stone cover-boy cover....Democrats are trading their Che Guevara T-shirts in for a T-shirt with their latest heart-throb...Che Tsarnaev

    July 21, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  14. jkflipflop

    Rolling Stone sucks. It's like 5 pages of actual magazine and 120 pages of ads.

    July 21, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  15. Jstic

    Now they will sell 10X as many coipes, thanks to McCain, CVS, S&S, Tedeschi and others. How ignorant of McCain, the man who chose Sarah Palin as the worst VP candidate in history.

    July 21, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  16. rl

    I guess we have no read too much from McCain for a couple of weeks and his ego just can't let go. He has to open his mouth after gauging the response to him and let us know. We are proud of you John. NOT!!

    July 21, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  17. 66Biker

    I'm not upset. I've always thought McCain was stupid. Even before he proved it beyond any shadow of a doubt. "Shrilla from Wasilla". Excellent description, Joe...

    July 21, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  18. starman5

    Rolling Stone is a bottom feeder, so what's new?

    July 21, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  19. brad1001

    Rolling Stone hasn't been relevant for the last 20 + years. As the music industry has tanked, so has this rag. This is a pathetic effort to gain back "the edge" that they lost, never to recover.

    July 21, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  20. Roberta

    At least reading the RSM gave me more information on the alleged criminal, his behavior and history than I got anywhere else. Any suppression of information is abhorrent and I resent CVS, Stop and Shop and Tedeschi stores for not providing the opportunity to purchase this magazine. Do I (or you) put this guy in some kind of rock star status? Give me a break... I can think for myself... I don't need any entities to determine what information I can and can't have access to. I am strong enough intellectually to support the victims and read the article.

    July 21, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  21. Rob B.

    why no mention of the 1938 Time magazine issue stating Adolf Hitler was "man of the year"

    what about the 1985 article where they show Reagan with Bin laden/the Taliban inwhich he praised them saying "these men have the same moral compass as our founding fathers"

    poor taste seems to be a tradition with all media/magazines.

    July 21, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  22. midnitejax

    Definition of "Irony"...When the man who ran for the presidency of the US took Sarah Palin as his running mate, and then calls a cover of a magazine "stupid".

    July 21, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  23. midnitejax

    One has to wonder why there was no outrage when the exploding Space shuttle was played over and over on national TV without any networks being called on the carpet? The picture isn't the entire story. Rolling Stone Magazine owes no apologies to anyone. READ the ARTICLE McCain!!

    July 21, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  24. Tim Snow

    I have read the article and my problem with it is all the passive language with regard to what Dzhokhar did. The article speaks as of everything "happened to" Dzhokhar instead of speaking of his ultimate responsibility for his actions. I have no problem with an article asking why an outwardly normal kid would do such a thing, but when the same article offers absolutely no answers and merely speaks in glowing terms about a murderer, it becomes worthless as analysis.

    July 21, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  25. phil

    GOP will hold a RS Magazine burning event at the Bush Presidential Library, it will be held shortly after christian services

    July 21, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
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