'Rolling Stone' Bomber Cover Was Slotted for Kanye West -- or Bruce Springsteen

Sources tell THR the decision to feature Dzhokhar Tsarnaev came from the top.

Rolling Stone’s much criticized cover of Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was originally earmarked for Kanye West, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter, but the interview fell through.

Reasons for why West, whose Yeezus album was released June 18, four weeks before the magazine hit stands, pulled out range from unfortunate timing (girlfriend Kim Kardashian gave birth to the rapper’s daughter, North, on June 15) to interview restrictions -- namely, that he didn’t want to talk about his newborn baby.

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To be fair: North West did arrive early, and Rolling Stone editors weren’t completely caught offguard -- they had another backup plan: a package on the best summer tours, with Bruce Springsteen as the cover image. An ironic choice considering this recent piece of satire published by Vanity Fair, titled “Secret Tape of the Rolling Stone Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Cover Meeting.”

The decision to go with Tsarnaev was "all Jann's,” says an insider, referring to RS editor and publisher Jann Wenner. The bomber story was already written by Janet Reitman and scheduled to run, but it was Wenner who chose the provocative cover image.

As widely reported, CVS, Walgreens and Rite-Aid chains are refusing to carry the issue.

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Rolling Stone has not apologized but did issue this statement:

“Our hearts go out to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, and our thoughts are always with them and their families. The cover story we are publishing this week falls within the traditions of journalism and Rolling Stone’s long-standing commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day. The fact that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is young, and in the same age group as many of our readers, makes it all the more important for us to examine the complexities of this issue and gain a more complete understanding of how a tragedy like this happens.”

A spokesperson for Wenner Media would not comment.

Twitter: @THRMusic