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. beckone

    no as stupid as Obamas remarks about TM, and maybe not as stupid as Mc Cains dumb moves

    July 21, 2013 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  2. Jon

    Stupid! Stupid cover! Rolling Stone is stupid! I don't want to go to school today!

    July 21, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  3. Blobby

    Too bad McCain didn't pipe up when the NYT used the same pic front and center, above the fold, in a Sunday edition two months ago.

    July 21, 2013 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  4. Draeggo

    Really funny to read comments about a highly successful man like McCain being stupid and so forth. Says a lot about the poster of the comments as they go to jobs (if they have one at all) doing the work people like McCain tell them to do. Guess they have a reason to be bitter.

    July 21, 2013 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  5. Area6x

    If it was so bad a decision for Rolling Stone why didn't anyone complain about New York Times when they published the same self-portrait? McCain and Tea Party are they ones seeking publicity here.

    July 21, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  6. rover2

    Charlie Manson was a real crowd pleaser on the cover of Rolling Stone back a few years ago....... just saying, not any difference. and i'll still read the article.

    July 21, 2013 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  7. insi10

    What an incredibly stupid remark by McCain, and what a pack of politically correct idiocy by all the people objecting. It's news. Digging into why such a person would do what he did is an essential service. Since when is a news or newsfeatures organization NOT supposed to put a picture of the most important subject of that issue on the front cover? Rolling Stone is not making him out to be a hero, you scheissbrains. It is asking WHY. Why does our world breed such psychos as this guy? A vital question.

    July 21, 2013 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  8. John

    The universally accepted notion that this magazine cover was "stupid" was worthy of a separate article just because a mostly-irrelevant, former presidential candidate and current senator from one of the lightest-populated states in the union said so? Anything to fill space, huh, CNN?

    July 21, 2013 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  9. lxNay

    He is gorgeous. He can't be a terrorist. Wait, is that possibly what Rolling Stone is trying to say – that people who seem to be gifted, or have it all, can also have bad intentions?

    July 21, 2013 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  10. don

    I'm so disgusted! I'm going to quit reading !!

    July 21, 2013 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  11. Vince

    It is a wonderful article about how an ordinary boy becomes a terrorist. The picture is the appropriate picture for that story. McCain, the man who never saw a war he didn't like, should really stop talking on every subject under the sun!

    July 21, 2013 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  12. Frank

    McCain criticizes Rolling Stone for running the same picture that every other media outlet ran for a month but doesn't seem to care about the civil rights of hundreds of millions of Americans begin violated by the NSA, doesn't seem to care that NSA administrators committed perjury to his face and the faces of his colleagues, and doesn't care about the ongoing and willful violations of the constitution that were just given a green light by the FISA court. Priorities much, McCain?

    July 21, 2013 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  13. Laura

    The cover was not offensive at all. His image has floated around on newspapers, internet sites, etc. People get offensive for the silliest things now a days. Oh well, to each is own. I think the cover of the magazine creates interest in how this all started. I'd buy it. People need to know and be made aware of how children and young adults are influenced to mastermind attacks. We live in communities where this is taking place right under our eyes, be them black, white, Asian or purple.

    July 21, 2013 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  14. Elliott Carlin

    John McCain is the only POW I know of who has depleted the reservoir of respect earned while serving his country. He thinks he's still serving the country in his senatorial role....they all say 'public service' when all they mean is 'power and access'.

    Tired of this old fool and the others on both sides of the aisle

    July 21, 2013 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  15. Pelegrim

    Does that guy on the cover have a new album to promote?

    July 21, 2013 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  16. Person

    No, the RS cover is not stupid. In fact, it's quite smart and it asks its readers to be smart as well (which has in some cases not happened). The banality of evil (see Hannah Arendt's famous book) is important and is always with us. Imagining that villains always look terrifying is juvenile and gets in the way of understanding how evil comes about. The senator (who is not stupid) is grandstanding for his base with a disappointingly know-nothing position, when he should instead be a thought leader.

    July 21, 2013 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  17. sly

    Yawn ... news is news, and magazines are about news and entertainment. Good for Rolling Stone for telling an interesting story.

    Americans are just so darned ignorant and arrogant.You can bet there were lots of pictures of 9/11 in the newspaper, or are all these Americans so stupid they forgot and now claim none of them have ever seen any pictures of 9/11?

    July 21, 2013 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  18. emintey

    This is one of those few times i agree with McCain, the publcation of that cover was entirely self serving and any claims that it was done in the "public intersest" simply fall flat.

    July 21, 2013 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  19. Damb S

    A lot of noise but Americans r still buying rolling stone.

    July 21, 2013 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  20. Linda

    The fact is no one is trying to make him look like a "rock star." That is a genuine picture of the bomber. I'm not buying the magazine to swoon over his cover photo. I'm buying it to read the well researched article inside.

    July 21, 2013 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  21. FloridaRes

    Rolling Stone should have the text of the article but focus instead on the courage of the survivors. Where was a photo of a survivor who now has an artificial limb and is learning to use it? No – Rolling Stone took the easy route and put the cowardly perp's photo on the cover.

    July 21, 2013 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  22. NameTom

    Well at least both the cover of rolling stone and McCain have being stupid in common.

    July 21, 2013 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  23. acarl

    I feel like nobody is reading the headline for the story. This is not to glamorize or make terrorism look cool. The point is to show that terrorists begin as normal people. In this picture he is obviously a normal teenager taking a shameless selfie pic. The story is about what happened between this picture and the day he became a murderer.

    July 21, 2013 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  24. gord

    palins trying to get him to sing at her kids birthday party –he must be good to be on the cover of the rolling stones

    July 21, 2013 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |

    The problem here is that this isn't the "all American boy" gone wrong. These brothers were terrorist implants who learned to hate America on foreign soil. To characterize the behavior of foreign born terrorists as a mysterious departure from the normal mindset of ordinary Americans goes beyond missing the point. To arrive at meaningful answers, one must first ask the right questions. "Why did warnings from Russian Intelligence about these young men go unheeded by our government's security agencies?" might be a good start. Rolling Stone Magazine is clearly not the ideal source of answers to such questions, but they have as much right as any other media outlet to explore this subject, and use the same photo that no one questioned when it was on page one of The New York Times. With all due respect to Senator McCain, the media gives his over-the-top rants so much attention, for the same reason that Rolling Stone will sell so many copies of this issue: It's hard not to watch a train-wreck...

    July 21, 2013 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
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