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. OK fine.

    There was a time when Rolling Stone was relevant in music and politics. That time ended around 1979


    Is that so? Those blasting this cover and Rolling Stone obviously did not read the article in question or read the magazine in general. Perhaps you missed the articles written by Matt Taibi about the finacial meltdown, the fradulent actions of banks and wall street. You obviously did not read the late Michael Hastings articles on the war in Afghanistan. There are many quality journalists that write for the magazine. What do you consider good journalism, People Magazine?

    July 21, 2013 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  2. ManWithThe1000PoundBrain

    Yes, the story written for this issue is justifiable, but there was no need to put him on the cover.

    July 21, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  3. Msrhl

    Taking of innocent lives like our esteemed obama does with his drone strikes, yet no "public outcry" when his face is on the cover of a magazine?...

    July 21, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  4. Really

    How is the bomber's photo appearing on Rolling Stone any different than having it appear on CNN, Fox, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, national and Boston papers, etc. for weeks and weeks?

    July 21, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  5. kathi

    I think its appalling that the cover of Rolling Stone would feature a mass murdered/terrorist. I understand an in depth journalistic article about the saga, but to feature a murderer or on the cover. I am appalled and disgusted with Rolling Stone and I have been a reader since the way back in late 60's.

    July 21, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  6. GOP = Greed Over People

    The point RS is making is the "bomber" walked among us looking like an average, every day 19 year old.

    He does not have horns growing put of his forehead or a red, pointy tail or carry a pitch fork, folks.

    The purpose is to get the conversation started on profiling, stop judging folks because they wear a hoodie or do not look like a "raghead".

    Get it?

    McCrpt unleashed the Tundra Temptress upon us, oh the irony of calling anyone else's actions as "stupid"!

    July 21, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  7. Joe

    This article is not glorifying the kid. He's a hypocrite for what he did. His reasoning was that, since America kills innocent people overseas, Then I'll do the same. So you're going to stop innocents from being killed by doing the same? Obviously this kid isn't as smart as people said he was. As far as Rolling Stone is concerned, I see no problem with the article, it's saying what a monster he has become, I don't see any glorification in it. Osama Bin Laden was on the cover of Time, yet no one said anything.

    July 21, 2013 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  8. Bob

    I think the editors of Rolling Stone are very naive. Psychopaths tend to be charming and popular, this is not just a "regular kid" who lost his way somehow. This is not an act that could be committed by a person who has a "normal" level of empathy.

    July 21, 2013 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  9. lroy

    Excuse me, but I am no longer the same age of most of the viewers. For several years now, I have been offended by the liberal view of the magazine instead of JUST sticking to good solid rock music. And do REALLY think a half naked man covered with tattoos is an appropriate magazine for today's younger generation?

    July 21, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  10. Orb4

    The leading expert on STUPID and STUPID running mates has spoken! Thanks for everything John – as usual you are a big help! I continue my plea to end the weekly placement of a microphone in this idiot's face.

    July 21, 2013 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  11. tnsurge

    Where was the erstwhile Senator when Lee Harvey Oswald, Jack Ruby, the Unabomber and James Holmes were all the headlines? A picture may be worth a thousand words but let the public read those words before casting your censorship Senator. This was a very well-written and well-researched article that explores how a young man could turn against our country under the eyes of friends, family and faculty.

    July 21, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  12. underwaterops

    I'm not a reader of Rolling Stone. But I see a cover that calls the bomber a "monster" and asks the question of how such a normal looking kid could get to be that way.
    Showing the man as he was apprehended would not make sense with regard to the central theme of "good kid gone bad".
    Rolling Stone is not claiming, from what I've heard, that the bomber was in any way justified in what he did. They showed the kid, and then they describe how he transformed into a monster.
    This is just ultra-conservative theater. And it's wrong.
    As for the stores boycotting, I will boycott those stores in sympathy with a magazine with which I don't seem to have any other thing in common. I am a former Republican, still right of center, that does not like where the Republican party is going. And this is just another example of a tempest in a teapot approach that leaves moderates trusting what they hear from the right ever less with each exchange.

    July 21, 2013 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  13. thedoctor

    I just don't get it. Rolling Stone does a news article on the alleged terrorist/criminal asking the question how a seemingly normal kid could do this. They put his picture on the cover. They call him a monster. And this is outrageous? Seems to me to be a valid news topic. Hasn't Time Magazine featured Osama Bin Laden on the cover along with Hitler, Stalin and Paul Pot? Why is it so "stupid" to put a newsmaker on the cover of your magazine?

    July 21, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  14. Back door

    Why would a Magazine want to be known for its
    Usually traits we try to hide
    I have to give them a lot of credit for letting the General Public see what a DEGENERATE rag they are,
    You gotta admit THAT TAKES COURAGE

    July 21, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  15. Olaf Big

    Rolling Stone cover is right on target! It's wake-up and welcome to the real world call to everybody who grew up with Hollywood instilled black-and-white ideas of good and evil. Only in the movies the evil guys look the part. If you think that only scary looking guys with coal black eyes and bushy black beards from ear to ear blow up buildings, think again. And even those guys were not born looking like that. They too were cute kids once...

    July 21, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  16. jake

    hey f.o.s.,

    rs is not a "music mag" it is a lifestyle magazine. if you had ever read it, (which I doubt) you would know this.

    the photo they chose emphasizes the crux of the article. had you read it, you would understand that the question is, "what prompted a young, good looking, successful, smart, energetic person to do something so horrible?"

    July 21, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  17. andboycott

    Oh yeah? How "stupid" was the media, including this station, to flash that exact same picture all over the wires for weeks after the bombing?

    Propaganda. This whole thing is stinking more.

    And hey, those new pictures from the Boston PD photog showing no throat wound from when Tsarnaev supposedly tried to shoot his brains out? If I did that, I doubt I could climb out of a boat. How bout you? If I missed my spinal cord I would bleed to death within 6 hours. Gunshot to the mouth is used as a suicidal mechanism because it's quick and painless.

    July 21, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  18. andboycott

    How about when Time magazine put osama bin laden on the cover, that was ok.

    July 21, 2013 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  19. saywhat

    Regardless of the controversy of RS cover, i tend to agree with @Danny. Criminal aspect of the Iraq invasion & the agenda aside.
    McCain & the his ilk are and have been a part of the problem.

    July 21, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  20. DC1973

    So John McCain thinks Rolling Stone, and one assumes all magazines, shouldn't use pictures of people who've been responsible for the deaths of innocent people.

    Great. Let's start with getting the politicians' pictures out of them, then.

    July 21, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  21. Scott

    The editors at Rolling Stone have to sell magazines to put food on the table. Our Congress? Once elected, they don't have to lift a finger to collect a check and benefits for the rest of their lives!
    The issue of taking innocent lives?!?! Please, how many lives was the Senator responsible for taking as a result of his military service and his vote while serving as a U.S. Senator? I have personally seen the faces of at least a handful of innocent dead while serving in Iraq. Pot calling the kettle black?

    July 21, 2013 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  22. don in albuquerque

    I guess John Mac's credo is the same as Forrest Gumps. Remember? "Stupid is as stupid does." Every time he opens his mouth he reassures us of it.

    July 21, 2013 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  23. Roscoe

    Time Magazine Man (now Person) of the Year included Hitler, and Stalin. Save your outrage for something worthy of it. And, by the way, read the article before passing judgment.

    July 21, 2013 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  24. Occent

    Anyone still read this magazine?

    July 21, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  25. Alan

    Those who are 'horrified' by the Rolling Stone cover probably haven't read that magazine in over thirty years. They do some very good reporting, better than Time Magazine. Matt Taibbi consistently publishes intelligent, and deeply researched articles. If that cover bothers you, then every news magazine that has ever published a cover with Hitler, Stalin, Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi, should bother you.

    July 21, 2013 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
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