Never Too Late to Protest The Rolling Stone Cover

Protesters gather outside Rolling Stone offices. (Photo credit: Kara Bloomgarden-Smoke)
Protesters gather outside Rolling Stone offices. (Photo credit: Kara Bloomgarden-Smoke)

The furor over Janet Reitman’s Rolling Stone cover story on Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, which reached a fever pitch last week when stores including Walgreens and CVS announced they wouldn’t sell the issue of the magazine, has mostly subsided. But that doesn’t mean everybody has moved on.

On Monday, a very small group gathered outside of Rolling Stone’s Avenue of the Americas offices, bullhorn in hand, ready to protest the story.

The protesters were led by A.J. Weberman, a Hawaiian-shirt-clad former Yippie who became famous for going through Bob Dylan’s trash and is a current activist with the Jewish Defense Organization, a militant Zionist group.

But a bullhorn isn’t Mr. Weberman’s only weapon. Last week, he bought the domain name, where he posted the journalist’s personal information, found on Spokeo, along with calls to action, charging that Ms. Reitman is a “self-hating Jew.”

“Look who wrote it,” Mr. Weberman told Off The Record. “She’s a ‘hate-America-type person.’”

Whatever one’s objections to the cover, the article itself describes Mr. Tasrnaev as a “bomber” who “became a monster,” and is a nuanced portrait of the suspect.

“It wasn’t favorable,” Mr. Weberman conceded. “But it wasn’t unfavorable.”

Mr. Weberman’s main objection seemed to be that Ms. Reitman’s story didn’t sufficiently cover the murder of three pot dealers on September 11, 2011, in which the Tsarnaev brothers have been reported as suspects.

She wrote: “On September 11, 2011—the 10th anniversary of 9/11—[Brendan] Mess and two of his friends were killed in a grisly triple murder that remains unsolved. Since the bombing, authorities have been vigorously investigating the crime, convinced that Tamerlan [Tsarnaev] had something to do with it, though so far there’s no hard evidence.”

But that isn’t enough for Mr. Weberman, who claims that two of the three pot dealers were Jewish. “Two of those guys were Jewish. It was an act of Jew hatred and a love of Islam,” Mr. Weberman explained. “Why is she writing a not-
unfavorable piece about a Jew-killer?”

Mr. Weberman was joined on Monday by the Yippies’ “Pieman” Aron Kay (who attained some notoriety in the 1970s for throwing pies at public figures).

“I’m appalled that they made Tsarnaev look like a heartthrob,” Mr. Kay said, standing up from his wheelchair to talk to OTR. Asked if he had actually read the article, Mr. Kay said he hasn’t read Rolling Stone since the magazine became mainstream over 30 years ago.

The goal of the protest, according to Mr. Weberman, was to encourage the magazine to donate profits from the issue to bombing victims—and also maybe to unnerve the author.

“I’m not advocating violence,” he said. “It’s psychological warfare.” (Ms. Reitman declined to comment for this story.)

Messrs. Kay and Weberman were joined by another protester and a 9/11 Truther. Office workers exited the building, careful to avoid the small scene (the building also serves as temporary headquarters for the Daily News).

Our only remaining question was why hadn’t Mr. Weberman organized the protest last week, when the indignation over the cover was still current?

“Last week I got all messed up because I smoked some very strong weed,” Mr. Weberman explained. This week, he said, he skipped the grass until after the protest had been organized.

Never Too Late to Protest The <em>Rolling Stone</em> Cover