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Rolling Stone puts Tsarnaev on cover, stirring outrage

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(Rolling Stone)

Rolling Stone is set to publish a cover story later this week on Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. And in a move that is sure to anger the families of the victims, scores of survivors and the city of Boston, the iconic rock magazine is putting Tsarnaev on the cover. In fact, it already has.

The magazine posted the cover of the Aug, 1 issue — which hits newsstands on Friday — to Facebook, drawing hundreds of outraged comments.

"Been a subscriber since 1982," Tim Snell wrote. "Canceling tonight. I am beyond words..."

"I think it's wrong to make celebrities out of these people," Shawn Anthony wrote. "Why give the guy the cover of Rolling Stone?"

"Way to make a celebrity out of this piece of s---," Paul Witter wrote. "You guys should be ashamed. You just told every terrorist in the world, go ahead, do your thing and we'll make a celebrity out of you. Hope all your advertisers pull out."

"This is appalling, reckless journalism created for shock and profit," Bill Lowell wrote. "Why glorify a killer and terrorist? The magazine’s irresponsible thoughtless actions will only promote the next sad individual to act out his horrific deeds."

Federal authorities say Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, planted two bombs near the finish line of the April 15 marathon, killing three people and injuring more than 200 others. Tamerlan was killed in a shootout with police on April 19; Dzhokhar was later arrested. He pleaded not guilty to federal terror charges.

Lowell continued: "You should have focused on the brave survivors and all the wonderful deeds of those in the music and entertainment industry. Rolling Stone has reached its journalistic low point."

"Jeff Bauman, who lost both legs, should be on cover," J. Harper Philbin wrote.

The cover story, "The Bomber: How a popular, promising student was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam and became a monster," written by contributing editor Janet Reitman, delves into Tsarnaev's childhood.

"Being from Boston, I take this personally offensive that this s--- bag is even a thought, never mind given the cover!" Jenna DeMato Hebert wrote. "I don't care about his religion, race, sex or his poor family. He is bomber #2 in the white hat ... That's the most description I need."

"Why would you put that face on your cover. WHY?" Joanne Brakatselos wrote. "YOU'RE NOT HELPING."

"I am ending my subscription," David Beck wrote. "This is bull----. Let's honor those who hurt innocent people."

The outrage isn't just coming from Facebook. CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens announced Wednesday afternoon they would not carry the issue out of respect for the marathon bombing victims.

"As a company with deep roots in New England and a strong presence in Boston, we believe this is the right decision out of respect for the victims of the attack and their loved ones," CVS said in a statement.

Walgreens announced on Twitter it would not sell the issue at its stores. On its Facebook page, Tedeschi's, a popular convenience store chain in Boston, wrote:

[We support] the need to share the news with everyone, but cannot support actions that serve to glorify the evil actions of anyone. With that being said, we will not be carrying this issue of Rolling Stone. Music and terrorism don't mix!

A spokesperson for Rolling Stone did not return a message seeking comment. The publication's editors posted a statement on its website Wednesday afternoon:

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.

The magazine, founded in 1967 by Jann Wenner, has a circulation of 1,464,943. In 2012, it generated an estimated $167.35 million in advertising revenue.

Of course, it's not the first time an accused killer has made the cover of a major magazine. In 2004, Time magazine put O.J. Simpson on its cover after the former football star's arrest. In that case, Time was criticized for its choice of Simpson's mug shot — and for altering it with a shadow that made the then-murder suspect look menacing.

It's also not the first time Tsarnaev has been portrayed as a cult figure.

After his arrest, the hashtag #freejahar began trending on Twitter, driven in part by teenage girls who were attracted to photos of the bombing suspect shown by media.

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