TODAY   |  July 18, 2013

Rolling Stone editor defends Tsarnaev cover

As outrage has spread over the cover of the new issue of Rolling Stone magazine, which features alleged Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the magazine is standing by their decision to feature him. NBC’s Kristen Dahlgren reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> now to the growing outrage over the " rolling stone " cover featuring boston bomber dzhokhar tsarnaev. we told you about this on wednesday. nbc's kristen dahlgren is in washington with the fallout. kristen , good morning to you.

>> reporter: good morning to you. the issue doesn't officially hit news stands until friday, but some stores are officially refusing to sell it. we're here where the bombing happened. the pain is still fresh. a lot of people here outraged over what they say is a killer on the cover. dzhokhar tsarnaev staring out from the cover of " rolling stone " magazine, the accused bomber getting what some say is rock star treatment.

>> i can't imagine what they were thinking.

>> reporter: in boston , where three by standers and one police officer were killed in the april bombing and its aftermath, reaction was instant and angry.

>> he has no business being on " rolling stone " or any other magazi magazine. why publicize it?

>> reporter: transit officer richard donahue was severely wounded in a shootout with tamerlan and his brother. donahue called the cover thoughtless. other victims contacted by nbc news didn't want to add to the publicity, but their supporters lashed out. boston 's mayor thomas menino .

>> why? why would we publicize a guy who destroyed people's lives? makes no sense to me. very poor taste .

>> reporter: as word about the cover spread wednesday, so did the backlash. boycott rolling stone began trending on twitter, and stores like cvs and walgreens announced they wouldn't carry the issue. in an interview on national public radio , " rolling stone 's" managing editor defended the magazine's decision.

>> this is a person who is the same age as many of our readers, who to his peer group seemed like one of them, and that's what we thought made this story so powerful and disturbing. and it's in no way to endorse or glorify what he did. i think it's the opposite, we're trying to understand it and explain it.

>> reporter: the picture from tsarnaev's own twitter profile is the cover of the magazine. in 1997 , charles manson was featured, but others liken the shaggy hair to this other " rolling stone " cover of jim morrison , rock royalty.

>> they're trying to make him look like a rock star , and he's a horrible person that did a horrible thing.

>> reporter: of course, if controversy sells, a lot of people talking about this issue. we're not hearing a lot of complaints about the content, an article about what turned a promising and popular young student into an accused mass murderer , but that cover, savannah, has a lot of people upset.

>> kristen dahlgren in boston for us this morning, thank you.