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. Brad

    John McCain is the same age as my Dad. He has the same out of touch w reality my dad has. I'll have it when I'm 70 too. But I'll know I am out of touch.

    July 21, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  2. cbp

    Has anyone noticed that the Senators who seem to be interviewed the most are McCain and Graham? These two men seem to have the opinions most likely to be heard on television. When did they become the spokespeople for the nation and for Congress?

    These talk shows need to find some new senators and representatives to interview.

    July 21, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  3. Gregg Teslovich

    My first impression was along the lines of insensitivity by the magazine but with further reflection what better way for America to awaken a tad to it's ongoing, world leading, violence. Violence ingrained throughout our culture, than to have it slapped in our faces. As for McCain who "said it was 'inappropriate' for the magazine to prominently feature someone who’s “responsible for the taking of innocent lives." would he like to be objective about the million citizens of all ages and gender we killed in Vietnam (and continuing with the lingering chemical warfare).

    July 21, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  4. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    Oh come on, John. You SAY stupid stuff to get attention. Now you have a problem with the media SHOWING stupid stuff to sell papers?!?! Pot to kettle...

    July 21, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  5. Rob Roberts

    Anyone Who is making the argument that the article in Rolling Stone was good or meaningful carries no weight with me at all regarding the appropriateness of featuring an altered picture of a terrorist on the cover. They could have easily written an article without making him appear as an icon on a pop music magazine. I think any retail outlet that continues to carry Rolling Stone should seriously reconsider. There should be a cultural and economic price to pay for the offense to our society

    July 21, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  6. mikes

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

    Let McCain say that the next time a US president is on the cover of Time.

    July 21, 2013 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  7. Videriquamesse

    Like it or not, the decision by Rolling Stone to feature a picture of Tsarnaev on its cover is the price we pay for living in a (relatively) free society. I don't like the filthy vitriol spewed forth at the funerals of our military by the mob of thugs that comprise the Westboro Baptist Church; but the solution to offensive speech is more speech, not less.

    July 21, 2013 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  8. Kelcy

    We put serial killers on the cover of magazines all the time. The Unibomber....Timothy McVeigh.... Aurora theater mass killer...... Columbine student killers. Ted Bundy was Time's man of the year. Where was all the anger and refusal to put all those people on the covers back then?

    July 21, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  9. anoynamouse

    So people are really just upset because the front cover photo looks like a rock star and the article contains information that we have all be clawing at to have since the bomber story broke. I really think the issue is with those who crave the infotainment and take issue with simply a photo of a human, with a story.

    Bravo to Rolling Stone for going where the story is and not giving in to populism.

    July 21, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  10. George

    A pick released by the policeman shows No injury to his throat. Hmm....

    July 21, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  11. Donnie the Lion

    The article isn't the problem....it is a really good article. It is the nuts out there who see a path to getting their picture on the cover of a prominent magazine for all the wrong reasons.

    Let us not boost the profile of criminals, let us bury them in obscurity like the garbage they are.

    July 21, 2013 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  12. Mopery

    Did any of you stop to think and realize that you don't have to buy the magazine? Just like you don't have to buy pornography if you don't want to. The first amendment gives us a freedom of speech and a freedom of expression but not a freedom from being offended. If you're offended, that's understandable, but censorship has no place in my United States.

    July 21, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  13. SeattleReign

    As if I care what that moron McCain thinks about anything. If he had his way, we'd be engaged in war everywhere in the world. As far as I know, the 1st Amendment is still in tact. So is freedom of choice. I you don't like it, don't buy it. Just don't try to control what others choose to do.

    July 21, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  14. What?

    Cain,Palin,Bachman,Perry,Trump,and Rolling Stone is Stupid? Limbaugh,Beck,well you get the Point, at least 51 percent of you did!

    July 21, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  15. Tenie

    They were attempting to be provactive and cool. Wht they really are is disrespectful to all Americans but more so to the bombing victims.

    July 21, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  16. Steve

    Please....for those of you who are literally judging a book by its cover, you might want to take the time to actually read the article. It, like so many other articles in RS, tells a true, accurate and well-researched story. It does not paint him as a "folk hero" but rather tries to analyze why a kid that was seemingly so well-adjusted and popular would do something so horrific as the Boston bombings. I don't see why that's so controversial...it is a fact-intensive article that tells a true story and asks (and tries to answer) a lot of legitimate, pressing questions. What's the problem?

    July 21, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  17. James Klimaski

    The Rolling Stone cover is quite enlightening. It seems everyone wants the Boston Bomber to look like the terrorist they imagine one should look like. Not much different then Zimmerman thinking that Trayvon Martin looked like a criminal. Blacks are stopped much more often by the police without reason, Middle Easterners and Hispanics are more likely questioned by TSA and border agents. The Rolling Stone cover demonstrates just how prevalent and pervasive the public's misconceptions are. From now on you terrorists out there, you must try and look like one, otherwise we won't be able to recognize you and that's not fair.

    July 21, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  18. K Benka

    Putting someone on a cover and calling him a bomber is hardly glorifying him. And HELLO! that IS what he looks like....which is one aspect of good realistic journalism - If the Boston PD would have released their pictures earlier, it is entirely possible that one of them would have been included in the article. It was a public service that those pictures were released.

    July 21, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  19. Chance

    It's not the article that's in question . Maybe some of you libs should read this article. It's the cover that's in question and quite frankly it is in poor taste. They only did it for the publicity and they got it. Now, go ahead and use this opportunity to take your jabs at McCain and move on.

    July 21, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  20. Mayfray

    Rolling Stone editors like this Dzhokar guy, they love is style, look and sympathize with his efforts to attack the U.S. for his imagined oppression. Thats who they are at Rolling Stone and that why they are glamorizing him.

    July 21, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  21. JayHo

    John McCain apparently knows about as much about the actual RS article as he does about picking running mates.

    July 21, 2013 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  22. JC

    Senator, freedom of the press. Remember?

    July 21, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  23. rick

    John McCain should try reading sometime instead of just commenting on photographs. Been to Syria lately? Idiot aka: Member of Congress.

    July 21, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    Agreed with Pishaw.....Rollin stone is irrelevant and has not much more cred that national enquirer

    July 21, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  25. Weasley

    I've seen the conservatives rant and rave about this cover photo, but I don't get the controversy. The photo intentionally depicts a very normal looking boy–the boy next door–but obviously there was something very dark lurking underneath. It's actually a brilliant choice for a photo.

    But the conservatives don't really care about the photo, do they? It's an all too expected knee jerk reaction to anything liberal. If Ronal Reagan had appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone, some conservative dope would find something wrong.

    July 21, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
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