CVS Won’t Sell ‘Rolling Stone’ with Boston Bombing Suspect on the Cover

The cover of Rolling Stone is usually reserved for rock stars, celebrities and Johnny Depp in redface. But the magazine’s August 3rd issue features none other than Boston marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The choice is an obvious ploy for attention — some are calling the magazine “Trolling Stone” — but nonetheless it’s sparked intense debate online.

CVS is now officially the first company to step in, saying it won’t be selling the magazine in its stores. The Rhode Island-based drug store posted on its Facebook page today:

CVS/pharmacy has decided not to sell the current issue of Rolling Stone featuring a cover photo of the Boston Marathon bombing suspect. 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.

Certainly this is not the first time Rolling Stone has published an article about something other than music or movies or pop culture. Most notably, it was Rolling Stone that published Michael Hastings’ article that eventually took General Stanley McChrystal down. However, Gen. McChrystal was not on the cover of that issue, Lady Gaga was.

Heather Abbott, 38, who had her lower leg amputated a week after the Marathon bombing shattered her left foot and ankle, told Celebuzz:

“I haven’t seen it. I know he [suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev] is on the cover. It’s probably not the best idea to put him on the cover.

“I understand it’s about the story and that’s fine, but I don’t think he needs to be on the cover.”

Karen Odom, whose husband John was severely injured in the Boston bombings, turned to her recovering husband, who had a few strong words for the music mag: “We just think it’s pathetic what Rolling Stone has done,” she told CB!.

Bill Haslet, whose 32-year-old daughter Adrianne lost her foot in the blast, got on the phone with Walgreens to express his gratitude for its decision to ban the issue from shelves.

“I called Walgreens and commended them for not carrying it,” he told Celebuzz. “I wanted to congratulate them for not having the issue on the stands. Some people may think its censorship, but it’s just decency.

“I’m sure it’s a good story, but I don’t think he should be on the cover. It’s a pretty sensitive thing.

“I don’t have a problem if it’s a well-written story and presents the facts to try to figure out why this happened and to make sure it never happens again. Just not to have him on the front page.

“Like my daughter says, it sells magazines. We’ll see what happens I don’t think it’s over yet.”

Even more interesting, not even Tsarnaev’s supporters are fans of the cover. There is a surprisingly large community online who worships Tsarnaev (they call him Jahar). Gawker’s Max Read wrote about the group in April:

Like the “Holmies” and “Columbiners” devoted to the Aurora, Colo. and Columbine High School shoters, respectively, #FreeJahar has its roots in “fandom” culture—those devoted communities of admirers, usually young women, that organize themselves on sites like Tumblr, exchanging photographs, fan art and writing, and expressions of “the feels,” a near-undefinable flood of emotion and desire.

Members of the #FreeJahar nation have also jumped to criticize the cover, mostly taking offense to it calling him “the bomber.”





Massachusetts officials have also condemned the cover. A spokesperson for Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino said the mayor, “does feel strongly that the cover was ill-conceived.” Mayor Menino is apparently writing a letter to the publishers of Rolling Stone.

Expect more companies to follow CVS’ lead.

UPDATE: Rolling Stone has posted the full story online with the following note from the editors attached:

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 EDITORS