Rolling Stone is glamorizing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, according to those upset with the magazine's decision to put the Boston marathon bombing suspect on its upcoming cover for a story titled "Jahar's World." The cover image uses a "selfie" of the former college student-turned-suspected-terrorist posted online.
For two months RS contributing editor Janet Reitman interviewed "dozens of sources," including childhood friends and members of law enforcement, to deliver a riveting and heartbreaking account of how a charming kid with a bright future became a monster."
Reitman's attempt at humanizing the 19-year-old who has been implicated in the explosion that killed three and injured hundreds, led to a flood of criticism and boycotts. The photo bares a striking resemblance to a previous cover featuring The Doors' frontman Jim Morrison. "If they want to become famous, kill somebody," said Jack Levin, criminologist at Northeastern University.
Two well-known businesses based out of New England and CVS pharmacy have refused to sell the issue when it hit stands Friday (July 19). "Music and terrorism don't mix!" one of the business wrote online.
In a blog posted yesterday (July 16) Reitman pulled "five revelations" taken away from her research. Some of the topics were already discussed in the news like Dzhokhar's growing devotion to Islamic extremism, and older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev's alleged mental illness. Tamerlan is viewed as the ring-leader in the attack, and was killed in a shootout with police.
Over the last 30 years, Rolling Stone has made headlines for controversial covers, but says picking Dzhokhar is in line with what they've always done (not a publicity stunt). "Our hearts go out to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, and our thoughts are always with them and their families. The cover story we are publishing this week falls within the traditions of journalism and Rolling Stone's long-standing commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day.
"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."
Dzhokhar was captured on surveillance at the location of the bombing first carrying a backpack and then walking without it. Friends claim he was framed. He pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges, more than half of which are punishable by the death penalty or life in prison.
See the full cover below.
Photos: Rolling Stone