Music magazine Rolling Stone has realized an uptick of 20 percent in sales with an August issue that featured a flattering photograph of accused Boston marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
The cover image the magazine used was a self-taken portrait of the bombing suspect that shows the youth with a mane of tousled black hair surrounding a face studded with sparse fuzz, sporting a sly, partial grin, floating above a headline that simply says “The Bomber.” Critics felt the image glorified Tsarnaev.
Rolling Stone received much condemnation for the cover. Arizona senator John McCain called the cover “horrifying” while actor James Woods called the publisher an “a**hole” and called for a boycott of the magazine.
Others supported the use of the gauzy photo of bombing suspect Tsarnaev. The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple argued that attacks on Rolling Stone were “baseless” exploitation of public outrage, and Politico saw nothing wrong with the cover or the story that accompanied the image.
For his part, Rolling Stone editor Christian Hoard was defiant in the face of critics. Hoard made an off-color tweet, but even as he apologized for the tweet, he said he stood by the cover.
A number of the magazine’s retailers were unhappy with the controversy. Retailers Tedeschi Food Stores, Roche Bros. groceries, Stop & Shop, CVS drugstores, Walgreens, Rite Aid, and Kmart all announced that they would not sell the August issue featuring Tsarnaev’s face.
None of this seems to have mattered for the magazine’s sales, however. The New York Post reports, “One circulation source said the sales for the issue through the first weekend were running about 20 percent above its normal rate.”
The magazine has declined to comment on sales stats.
News of Rolling Stone’s boosted sales occurred on the same day that the last victim of the bombing was released from the hospital.