Monsters On Magazine Covers: A Quick History

Jul 19, 2013
Originally published on July 19, 2013 3:41 pm

Responding to criticism of putting a photo of suspected Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine — a hallowed spot in American culture — the publication's editors posted an explanatory note on the website version of the story. It says: "The cover story we are publishing this week falls within the traditions of journalism."

True enough. Putting the faces of evil people on magazine covers has a long and controversial tradition. And controversy sells. At least it used to.

One of the arguments against the Tsarnaev cover is that Rolling Stone is glamorizing him. Arguably, any time an evildoer is pictured in a magazine or on TV or a website, it could be construed as glamorizing. Is there any difference between the Tsarnaev cover and many others from the past?

To help us decide, here is a quick look back at some past monsters on magazine covers — and links to the stories or magazines:

Osama bin Laden. Time. October 2001

Timothy McVeigh. Newsweek. July 1995. McVeigh triggered a truck bomb outside a federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people.

Ted Kaczynski. Time. April 1996. Known as the Unabomber, Kaczynski mailed and planted bombs that killed three people and injured another 23.

Jeffrey Dahmer. People. August 1991. Serial killer Dahmer was convicted of 15 murders, committed over multiple years.

Charles Manson. Rolling Stone. June 1970. Manson and his followers killed actress Sharon Tate — and the child she was carrying — along with several other people.

Adolf Hitler. Time. April 1941.

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