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Did Rolling Stone magazine make a rock star out of an alleged murderer?
That question is front and center this morning as critics on the Internet lash out against the magazine, saying the cover shot of Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev makes him look like anything but the monster he is.
The 19 year old is accused of killing four people and wounding hundreds more. That charge is not lost on readers.
“In Boston and throughout America, a perception that Rolling Stone is equating Dzhokhar Tsarnaev with the likes of rock's biggest stars…is burning up social media,” CNN's Brian Todd reports. (WATCH TOP VIDEO)
But the magazine stands by what it published. “‘Rolling Stone’ touts its article as an in-depth investigation into how the alleged Boston marathon bomber went off-track in his life,” Todd reports.
“In a statement, Rolling Stone's editors said their hearts go out to the victims–but that they also felt it was important to ‘...gain a more complete understanding of how a tragedy like this happens.’”
Several big chain stores are siding with the critics and pulling the issue from their shelves.
“The economic fallout started with America's second-largest drug-store chain, CVS, saying it won't put the August edition of Rolling Stone on its newsstands,” Todd says. Walgreens, Stop & Shop grocery stores, Tedeschi food stores followed suit.
But according to some marketing analysts, the magazine may actually get a boost from this, as “consumers still talk about controversial magazine-covers like 'TIME's Man-of-the-Year', featuring Adolph Hitler and the Ayatollah Khomeini.”
They add that if advertisers pull their ads or threaten to do so, that could actually hurt Rolling Stone. “But so far, no word on whether any advertisers have done that and so far, Rolling Stone is not commenting on that.”
For Bostonian and CNN's National Security Analyst Juliette Kayyem, it's offensive.
“I think people have every right to be offended by it,” she says. (WATCH)
While Kayyem believes that Rolling Stone has a right to publish the cover and considers the accompanying article fabulous, she agrees with the outrage over it. “It was a bad call,” she says.
Christopher John Farley, the editor of "Speakeasy," Wall Street Journal's culture web site, agrees that the article is legitimate journalism, and thinks the cover plays a part in the point its making.
“It really challenges people's preconceptions of what a suspected terrorist looks like and that's part of the point of the story, too,” he says.
Kayyem believes the magazine may have glamorized Tsarnaev in that attempt, by putting a “sultry picture of him on the front” of what she thinks is genuinely good story that people should read.
“It's been all lost in what's really an immature move, I think, by Rolling Stone.”