If Sports Illustrated had put Dzhokhar on its cover, that would also be jarring. They could have. They didn't. They put cops and a disoriented runner on the cover at the time of the murders.
The text of the cover doesn't glorify the killer. It reads: "The Bomber: How a Popular, Promising Student Was Failed by His Family, Fell Into Radical Islam, and Became a Monster."
But that glimmer of sadness for the bomber's lost childhood, the disappearance of a "charming kid with a bright future," shows more effort to find a terrorist's moral center than the magazine showed any of the last three Republican presidential nominees.
Last year, Rolling Stone's cover carried a cartoon of Mitt Romney in a top hat and an ascot with the words "Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital." Matt Taibbi sold Romney as pure evil:
"Romney's run has been a shimmering pearl of perfect political hypocrisy. ... Romney chose his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin -- like himself, a self-righteously anal, thin-lipped, Whitest Kids U Know penny pincher who'd be honored to tell Oliver Twist there's no more soup left."
In 2008, John McCain was also a cartoon on the cover, with the words "Make-Believe Maverick: A closer look at the life and career of John McCain reveals a disturbing record of recklessness and dishonesty."
Rolling Stone also ran two cartoon covers of George W. Bush, both making him look very much like a chimpanzee. Keith Olbermann lovingly promoted the 2006 cover titled, "The Worst President In History?" They followed in 2008 with "How Bush Destroyed the Republican Party." Both were written by socialist historian Sean Wilentz. In 2006, Wilentz admitted to Olbermann, "I think the cover actually is a bit over the top."
When Obama was inaugurated, the magazine did it again with a more serious illustration of Bush 43 and a cover story that was completely made up. "Exclusive! Bush Apologizes: The Farewell Interview We Wish He'd Give."
No one expects Rolling Stone to follow up with a cover that imagines "Dzhokar Apologizes: The Prison Interview We Wish He'd Give." If they had ever really had the Boston victims in their hearts, they might. But they don't.
L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center. To find out more about Brent Bozell III, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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