Yesterday, I wrote a diary in defense of the recent Rolling Stone cover. The NYT Editorial Board just did so as well. Obviously, theirs will be more widely read. Let's take a look.
The editorial, titled Judging Rolling Stone by Its Cover", begins with a lightly mocking disbelief at the extent of the backlash:
Maybe the hysteria about Rolling Stone’s August issue is heat-wave induced. That’s the only charitable explanation for the stampede of critics who have been accusing Rolling Stone editors of trying to turn Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the man accused of the Boston Marathon bombing, into a rock star merely by putting him on the issue’s cover. (Never mind the word “monster” right there in big type.)The editorial then cites the overreactions from both stores and politicians:
The drumbeat became so feverish that Walgreens, CVS and a few other stores have refused to sell the magazine. The mayor of Boston hyperventilated that it “rewards a terrorist with celebrity treatment.”It's weird when Tom Menino and Steve Doocy sound similar.
It then jabs Walgreens and CVS with a decidedly (and warranted) mocking tone:
Stores have a right to refuse to sell products because, say, they are unhealthy, like cigarettes (which Walgreens and CVS, oops, both sell). Consumers have every right to avoid buying a magazine that offends them, like Guns & Ammo or Rolling Stone.The reference to Guns & Ammo made a good point because there was no public backlash about that magazine's presence in stores after any of the recent tragedies. The only magazines that tend to have restricted access are pornographic ones--that just have casings or are placed in harder-to-view spots.
The NYT editorial board then continues its defense, noting the widespread appearance of the maligned photo (including, as I and others mentioned, on its own front page) and the simple fact that covers do not equal endorsements:
But singling out one magazine issue for shunning is over the top, especially since the photo has already appeared in a lot of prominent places, including the front page of this newspaper, without an outcry. As any seasoned reader should know, magazine covers are not endorsements.The NYT editorial board then points to the title, which clearly explains the article's intent as a "narrative of decline" and--as anyone could read--refers to Jahar as a "monster":
Time magazine, for example, had quite a few covers featuring Adolf Hitler during the war years. Less than a month after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Time featured a less-than-demonic photo of Osama bin Laden. Charles Manson appeared on Rolling Stone’s cover 40-some years ago for a jailhouse interview that was as chilling as it was revealing. We could go on.
Janet Reitman’s long article describes the way a boy portrayed by friends as “just a normal American kid” could go so wrong. And the headline on the cover, right there in very bold type, reads : “How a Popular, Promising Student Was Failed by His Family, Fell Into Radical Islam and Became a Monster.”And it ends by making the well-known point that no publicity is bad publicity--that drumming up a backlash against something is, ironically, one of the best ways to boost sales:
One thing seems certain about the Tsarnaev cover. Thanks to the outcry on social media and the reactions of a few timid merchants, this issue should sell quite well.The NYT Editorial Board clearly does not care for attacks on the freedom of the press.