The founder, editor and publisher of Rolling Stone magazine is proud to be a part of the establishment he once criticized, he told an audience of 500 last night in a question-and-answer session at the Kennedy School of Government.
Jann Wenner said he founded Rolling Stone in 1967, believing that "music was about a lot more than entertainment values--it was about culture, philosophical ideas...a way of thinking which was informing the Baby Boom generation."
A commitment to truth and political advocacy still motivates Rolling Stone, Wenner said, and dedication to social justice remains the mission of the magazine. "We take stands...we don't fully believe in objectivity; sometimes truth overrules objectivity," Wenner said.
However, audience members were openly skeptical of that commitment. Amelia H. Kaplan '96 drew applause by challenging Wenner to defend the cover of the current issue of Rolling Stone, which features a nearly naked Cindy Crawford. Kaplan called the picture of the supermodel "sort of regressing, going back to the objectified female."
Wenner appeared to surprise the audience with his answer.
"It is a sexy picture of a sexy woman," Wenner said. "Is this objectification? Yes. Does it sell magazines? Yes. Do I object to it? No."
Wenner was challenged throughout the evening to explain Rolling Stone's advertising policy, its promotion of rap groups which questioners considered "misogynist," and his magazine's strong endorsement of Bill Clinton, who was featured on a recent cover.
"Aren't you now the establishment?" one audience member asked.
"Yes," said Wenner. "I'm a part of the establishment, and I'm happy about it...I'm happy to be in a place where I can help people I like."
Wenner said that, for one, he would promote his friend Kathleen Brown, the California state treasurer and a candidate for governor, in his magazine.
The Institute of Politics sponsored Wenner's appearance, and IOP senior advisory committee member John F. Kennedy Jr. introduced the magazine editor. Kennedy, a childhood friend of Wenner's, said the two met through Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
Kennedy remembered that Wenner "had a sort of anarchist gleam in his eye, which distinguished him from a lot ofthe people my mother introduced me to."
Wenner made a distinction between his youth andhis adulthood, saying that "the role of the youngis to challenge, and older people have anotherrole." He also claimed that the counterculture ofthe 1960s has "merged with the center" and that itis now "impossible for there to be acounterculture."
"A good, new establishment has taken shape, andI'm proud to be part of it," Wenner said