Once a go-to source for music lovers, Rolling Stone magazine has morphed into an outlet more concerned with advancing left-wing ideology than covering the latest hits or music legends. The publication recently came under fire for a post on the X platform, formerly known as Twitter, featuring images of President Donald Trump’s mugshot taken last week with the caption “f— around… find out.”
This overtly political post has caused a wave of reactions from X users, bemoaning Rolling Stone’s transformation into what Brandon Straka called “a government newsletter.” Straka’s sentiment echoes a broader discontent among people who once viewed the magazine as a champion of counter-culture, only to see it devolve into a mouthpiece for mainstream liberal narratives.
But it’s not just about the tweet. The media’s coverage appears increasingly slanted, especially from outlets like Rolling Stone. Including Trump’s mugshot across the front pages of national papers brings the issue of media bias into sharp focus. Rolling Stone’s politicized shift isn’t doing the journalistic landscape any favors.
Rolling Stone is now the magazine for retired hippie musicians who live in rich estates and go to wine tastings. https://t.co/CvYIVEQo9U
— Elongated Musket (@blssdblkwngs) August 25, 2023
Critics on the X platform have questioned the magazine’s journalistic integrity. “What happened to music coverage? If I wanted to see political posts like this, I would just follow my creepy college professor or my angry rainbow-haired roommate on Twitter,” lamented one user.
The magazine has also been scrutinized for its treatment of Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Rolling Stone accused Kennedy Jr. of being linked to GOP lawmakers like Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and George Santos (R-NY). In a tweet, Kennedy Jr. labeled Rolling Stone as a “channel for Establishment propaganda,” highlighting the magazine’s departure from its original ethos as a standard-bearer of counterculture.
Rolling Stone seems more interested in ideological crusading than in the nuanced, robust journalism it once stood for. Its reputation, already hit by declining viewership and controversies like the defamation lawsuit from a University of Virginia dean, continues to erode.
This form of sensationalist, politically charged content may be a desperate grab for relevancy and reader engagement. In the past, the magazine’s music-related editorial pieces stirred public discourse. Now, the publication banks on polarization to pump up its metrics. However, the gamble may not pay off as expected. A turn toward far-left advocacy is unlikely to persuade anyone not already in the choir; it merely trumpets into an echo chamber.
Rolling Stone’s current editorial direction serves as a case study of how not to adapt to changing consumer demands and media landscapes. In a polarized nation, people seek unbiased, trustworthy sources for news and analysis. Rolling Stone risks alienating a large swath of its potential readership and drifting further into obscurity by choosing the path of partisan advocacy.