Because back in May, the New York Times used the same photo of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (though not a close-up) on its front page as Rolling Stone did on its August cover, Washington Post media writer Erik Wemple wrist-flicks the controversy over the Rolling Stone cover as “a baseless explosion of public outrage.” His reasoning is that the Times cover “didn’t spark much” outrage.
The logic behind this comparison escapes me.
The difference between a medium shot on a daily newspaper and a soulful pretty-boy close-up on a rock and roll magazine is all the difference in the world. The power and effect of popular culture is an entirely different phenomenon than that of a daily newspaper.
Furthermore, the Times doesn’t have a history of glamour shot covers or using its front page to create iconic moments in popular culture. On the other hand, this is what Rolling Stone is all about. There is even a song about the phenomenon of being “on the cover of the Rolling Stone.”
The fact that the Times didn’t receive many complaints and the reaction to the Rolling Stone cover has been swift and organic should be enough to answer the Post’s question about what the difference is. Politically, the same people who despise Rolling Stone also despise the New York Times, so this backlash against Rolling Stone certainly isn’t based on that.
What it is based on is the same photo being used in a completely different context and for a different purpose.
The Post is bringing oranges to an apple debate.
I would love to see the Post’s (and Politico’s) defense of a gun magazine putting an attractive, alluring, Tiger Beat-ish close-up photo of Timothy McVeigh or George Zimmerman on its cover.
How would they like them apples?
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC