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. rob

    You sir forfeited your right to use the "stupid" designation when you chose Sarah Palin as a running mate. THAT was the epitome of stupid.

    July 21, 2013 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  2. Clairblue

    I just don't see that this cover is worthy of controversy.

    July 21, 2013 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  3. mike

    The article topic is a very valid one which I've wondered about myself, kudos to RS for that. Since when is being on the cover of a magazine reserved for heroes? Wasn't Manson on a variety of covers? Only simpletons created by today's "celebrity" culture believe that. People are getting over-sensitized and scared of their own shadow.
    However those of you who said RS hasn't been relevant since '79, think again, it's more like '73.

    July 21, 2013 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  4. moxjox

    That good ol' John McCain...never met a war he didn't like...and still alienating most Americans who are not old, fat, bald white male bigots. (sigh) Give it up, John.....please

    July 21, 2013 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  5. Jillybean

    I personally was very facinated with this article and to be quite honest he is pretty attractive and as many curious people like to examine this as it doesn't make sense. This article was not stupid but thought provoking maybe I haven't read Rolling Stone for years but I knew it was more than music but culture. While it may seem like journalism sensationalize and even glamorize horrific crimes however freedom of press. Stop acting like a baby if you don't like something don't buy it!! Are freedoms are being stripped away and the ones causing outrage are making it easy by agreeing with popular opinion.

    July 21, 2013 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  6. Sell

    Obama had a lot to say about the Zimmerman trial. Not one peep on the Rolling Stones bomber issue?

    July 21, 2013 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  7. Allan

    Seriously? What about the numerous magazine covers with Osama Bin Laden on them? Or Saddam Hussein? Or Jeffrey Dahmer? Or other mass murderers? I don't recall any of this sort of reaction when those were printed. Some people need to get a life. If you don't like the cover – don't buy the magazine. It's pretty simple.

    July 21, 2013 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  8. SciGuy

    Well said Tessie. McCain is a has been, the old guard grasping to retain power. He should go fishing.

    July 21, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  9. Leon Lowry

    We've become so politically correct that the media must fear not hurting anyone's feelings. When Time magazine ran Ayatollah Seyyed Ruhollah Khomeini as person of the year during the Iran hostage crisis people flipped out – even though Khomeini had the most impact on world news that year. Fast forward to 2001 and 9/11. Time's person of the year – Mayor Rudy Giuliani? Really? Time was too scared to put Osama bin laden as person of the year – the person who had the most impact on world news in 2011 – not Giuliani. Now we have news catering to popular demand instead of fact?

    July 21, 2013 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  10. fallen angel

    Rolling Stone Magazine lost all its credibility back in the late 1970's and then a short stint in the late 1980's to early 1990's with bands like Nirvana ,Guns and Roses.After 1994 truly talented bands had dried up. So Rolling Stone Magazine turned in to the sleaze market like the New York Post,The Inquirer etc. because if they didn't they would have gone belly up.I gave up on RSM in the late 1970's.

    July 21, 2013 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  11. Pete/Ark

    Maybe...just "maybe" , Rolling Stone has done a public service. The photo points to the fact that ALL terrorists (or psychopaths , or mass killers ) do NOT look alike...there is no physical profile to watch for ... only behavior. Tim McVeigh did not resemble Khalid Sheik Mohammad ... bin Laden looked nothing like the Boston bombers. If we fall victim to a stereotype we can never be safe. Yeah , SOMETIMES terrorists DO look like rock stars.

    July 21, 2013 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  12. gt

    John McCain was it stupid when they put the Muslim babies on the front cover that you killed with your 2000 pound bombs and guided missiles under the cover of war and want them to bend to your will?

    July 21, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  13. ctguy

    I worked for Rollingstone in the 90's and can say that their readership was declining because of focusing on Brittany Spear's, NSync, Backstreet Boys and lost their core group of readers that were loyal from the start of the magazine. the sad point is that, this was just a publicity stunt because their circulation is way down and they needed something to get attention, kinda sad really.

    July 21, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  14. George

    Yes Senator McCain. We should never face the truth. Never read and learn. Hide the truth from the masses, don't let them read it. Sounds like the Roman Catholic Church. I for one love to read articles with substance, especially those that provide us insight into things for which we are not familiar. But this is my problem with the US government now. It believes and acts on the idea that the people do not need to know anything. As long as they are fat and have their toys all is good. Senator McCain, your idea that we should not have this article or that young man's picture in front of us is hopefully something that will keep you from being president and should have your position as a US Senator threatened.

    July 21, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  15. Nah - they look alike

    90+% of them are semitic or from one of the many regions of the world that musliim armies took over (i.e. southern Russia, Pakistan). So yes – they DO have common traits although not monolithic. Just because there are a few blondes in there like T.V. doesn't detract that almost all of them are muslim. It has not done a public service by jazzing up a picture of a murderer and putting it on its cover

    July 21, 2013 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  16. Mercury

    Rolling Stone: Senator Stupid

    July 21, 2013 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  17. mikeretired

    They should have put you and that bimbo running mate on the cover five years ago.

    July 21, 2013 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  18. Dorothy

    "Rolling Stone Cover Was Stupid"–John McCain

    You have to believe this guy knows what he's talking about. Nobody knows "stupid" like John McCain.

    July 21, 2013 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  19. allens

    if it was anyone else but mccain, i would give it some thought. john, i am sorry but y9u lost the election and should shut up and stop spouting your narrow minded thoughts

    July 21, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  20. Marie MD

    The cover was distasteful but it also shows us, and the world, that a terrorist is not just a bearded man living in a cave. They are just like us and, like a lot of sociopaths, they look normal until that one moment that changes everyone's life forever.
    I take it that the old man from AZ's vp choice was not on the cover? That would be another perfect example of crazy, narcisistic people who look half way "normal".

    July 21, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  21. jamessavik

    At last: I agree with "I Crashed My Plane" McCain about something.

    It is exceptionally bad policy to make a terrorist look like a rock star.

    July 21, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  22. DickPerry

    "McCain said it was “inappropriate” for the magazine to prominently feature someone who’s “responsible for the taking of innocent lives. "
    So then Obama and US gov and McCain shouldn't be on any front pages then..

    July 21, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  23. Mack

    John McCain always makes the Sunday Circuit of TV shows (and he criticized Susan Rice). Does he ever go home to Arizona on the weekends or does his wife make him stay in Washington?

    July 21, 2013 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  24. BO

    McCain should know. He is the epitome of stupid.

    July 21, 2013 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  25. fallen angel

    We seem to accept all peoples from other countries without stopping to give a second thought as to their true allegiance.In other words are they here to be a good responsible hard working people that can learn to live and love people that are different then they are or at lest get along with them. And I get it some are very good at hiding their true intentions and allegiance but we should start paying attention to what people keep bringing up topics of anger and their body language as they are expressing that topic.It just might be an indicator to their true feelings.

    July 21, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
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