MSNBC's Hayes Suggests He Defended Rolling Stone Cover Because Michelle Malkin Attacked It

On Thursday's All In show, MSNBC host Chris Hayes again demonstrated just how far left his views are when he admitted that he has had difficulty understanding the widespread criticism of Rolling Stone magazine over its provocative cover photo of Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. To his credit, Hayes brought aboard someone with an opposing opinion from his own in the form of The List's Rachel Sklar, herself normally left-leaning, to discuss the issue.

After declaring that his initial reaction was, "I don't understand why people are so upset," he later conceded that a reflexive impulse to disagree with conservatives like Michelle Malkin may have tainted his judgment as he complained about those who "want to bully us into not talking about what the motivations" of the terror suspect were. Hayes:

But it also seems like part of the controversy is being stirred up by people who want to bully us into not talking about what the motivations of someone who did this could be, right? I mean, that's part of, I think like I saw Michelle Malkin tweet about this...

I think maybe I was doing that thing which is always dangerous, which is trying to reason as a back shot off someone I generally disagree with. And, I was like, "Well, she's against the image, so maybe I'm for it."

He then indicated a possible change of heart on the subject as he added: "But you're actually somewhat persuasive, so I am now reconsidering my view..."

Near the beginning of the segment, Hayes recounted his initial reaction of bafflement over the controversy:

The reason I want to have you on is because I got into bed last night with my wife and I was talking to her, and I was, like, "I don't understand why people are so upset about this cover." And she was like, "I think it's disgusting." And I've been surprised by how massively polarizing it seems along surprising lines, like not the necessarily predictable ones.

Below is a complete transcript of the segment from the Thursday, July 18, All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC:

CHRIS HAYES: Up next, you've probably seen the controversy surrounding the new Rolling Stone cover. But if you think this image of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is interesting, wait until you see the new ones the Boston police just released of the alleged murderer at his moment of capture. We'll be right back.

STEVE DOOCY, FNC HOST: Extremists are trying to recruit young people for jihad. That is just a known fact. And this could give jihad-

BRIAN KILMEADE, FNC HOST: Great point.

DOOCY: -another recruiting tool. You know, 72 virgins, that's interesting to some. But the cover of the Rolling Stone, that's delicious.

HAYES: Setting off social media, creating instant avalanche of criticism debate is this. Rolling Stone cover of Boston bombing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The picture has been dubbed a glam celebrity-like treatment of a terrorist, giving him rock star treatment. Many outlets, including Walgreens, CVS Pharmacy, Rite-Aid, and Kmart refuse to sell it. Rolling Stone has defended the piece on Tsarnaev as responsibly dealing with an important issue.

Joining me now is Rachel Sklar, co-founder of The List, a media networking company for women. She's also contributor to Medium.com.

Rachel, you wrote a piece about why you really found this distasteful. And the reason I want to have you on is because I got into bed last night with my wife and I was talking to her, and I was, like, "I don't understand why people are so upset about this cover." And she was like, "I think it's disgusting." And I've been surprised by how massively polarizing it seems along surprising lines, like not the necessarily predictable ones. So, when I read  your piece, I was, like, I wouldn't have necessarily pegged Rachel to think that why. Why do you think it's distasteful?

RACHEL SKLAR, CO-FOUNDER OF THELIST: I found it very irresponsibly glamorizing, and it's because of what the context of Rolling Stone is. It is a magazine, and, yes, it publishes lots of interesting journalism that has nothing to do with music, but the cover is always about some rock star or a movie star, or someone famous. And the example of Charles Manson being on it in 1970 has been brought up. I don't actually find that very compelling, just also it's 1970. You know-

HAYES: Well, also that was pretty, I actually think that was more distasteful than this. So I actually think the Manson one was glamorizing Manson. Well, here's my feeling about this image. This is, first of all, an interesting image.

Second of all, it seems like people are mad at Rolling Stone because people find this person, this individual accused of an absolutely horrific disgusting crime physically attractive, that he's a good looking young man and he took the selfie. And it seems to me like part of the goal of this image is to make people stop and think about the line that separates a normal person from someone capable of doing something monstrous.

SKLAR: Yes. And that is what the article is about-

HAYES: Which is fantastic. The article is fantastic.

SKLAR: In the context of the article, yes, in the context of the article, this picture would be very appropriate and this photo was on the cover of the New York Times. And, in a news context, you could understand it and place it in context. But, on Rolling Stone, the cover of Rolling Stone, he looks like a stroke, like he looks like a Jonas Brother. He looks like someone who would be dating Taylor Swift.

HAYES: Right.

SKLAR: He doesn't look like-

HAYES: And there is no way, so what you're saying is the combination of this magazine with this cover, there is no way to escape that. So here's my other question: These new photos that were put out by tactical photographer, I believe for the Massachusetts State police, which are incredibly intense about the moments of his capture. If that were on the cover, would that do the same thing? But, in some ways, this seems almost more glorifying, like him as this bloody warrior.

SKLAR: I think that the point of this image is it's really inescapable to think that the Rolling Stone editors wouldn't have thought about the effects of this cover and what it looked like. And I understand that they wanted to point out that, you know, all terrorists don't come packaged like caricatures who are angry and unattractive, that they can be people who walk among us. I get that.

But, when your first encounter with the magazine is the cover and seeing it packaged like a rock star, it gives the impression that this kid is something of a rock star. And there are, you know, that has an impact. There are, he has fans. He has, there's a whole, like, free Dzhokhar movement, and-

HAYES: Yes. There is a very creepy, weird subculture of particularly teenagers who are kind of devoted to him as this kind of cult figure on the internet. That I totally agree.

SKLAR: Of course, for youths who are troubled and who might seek, you know, evidence that this is-

HAYES: Okay, but here's, yes, but all that seems possible to me. But it also seems like part of the controversy is being stirred up by people who want to bully us into not talking about what the motivations of someone who did this could be, right? I mean, that's part of, I think like I saw Michelle Malkin tweet about this and say like-

SKLAR: One of the rare instances on which we agree.

HAYES: Right. And I think maybe I was doing that thing which is always dangerous, which is trying to reason as a bank shot off someone I generally disagree with. And I was like, "Well, she's against the image, so maybe I'm for it." But you're actually somewhat persuasive, so I am now reconsidering my view, you and my wife.

SKLAR: I think it glamorizes it. I mean, I think it's really hard to take the two things away. The fact that it's an appealing cover that would look good to someone who, you know, idolizes rock stars.

HAYES: Right.

SKLAR: It's hard to differentiate without the context. And, yes, it says that he's a monster. And, yes-

HAYES: But you're right. You are totally right that people are going to see the cover and not read the article because that's the nature  of magazine covers. We all see magazine covers. Rachel Sklar from The List. Thanks so much.