Readers Call to Boycott Rolling Stone After Owner’s Ties to Saudis Resurface

A new piece again shines light on the $200 million Saudi Arabian investment into the magazine’s parent company Penske Media

Last Updated: April 2, 2021 @ 9:38 AM

The hashtag #BoycottRollingStone trended on Twitter Friday after a blog post highlighted the ties that Jay Penske, the owner of the magazine’s parent company Penske Media, has with the Saudi Arabian government.

The post on a Washington blog the Hill Reporter by Tara Dublin mixed up facts about Penske, but noted his father’s support of Trump:

“[I]n more recent years, the magazine has seen its share of bad publicity in light of bad decision making, which led to the ultimate bad decision: Rolling Stone was sold to the son of Trump-backing multimillionaire Roger Penske, Jay Penske,” said the Hill Reporter piece published Thursday. “Roger is a high-profile GOP donor and Trump ally, while Jay fired tenured and experienced journalists, then hired hacks to write tabloid level pieces that leaned so far to the right, he was welcomed to join his father in the Oval Office when he was awarded a Presidential Medal from the former guy himself.”

The elder Penske’s company, Penske Corp, gave $676,000 in donations to Republican candidates in the 2020 election cycle, according to Opensecrets.org.

In addition to Rolling Stone, the younger Penske’s company, Penske Media, also owns Hollywood publications Variety, Deadline, Billboard and The Hollywood Reporter. A representative for Penske Media did not immediately return a request for comment.

The post also shone a light on a topic very familiar to readers of TheWrap: A $200 million investment by a Saudi Arabian public fund Penske accepted in 2018. In 2019, TheWrap demanded to know why Penske had remained silent on the investment stake, even after U.S. intelligence reports confirmed that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman himself ordered American journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s gruesome murder.

Thursday’s Hill Reporter piece came about after, it said, a pro-Trump Rolling Stone writer “recently contacted MeidasTouch, the PAC founded by the Meiselas Brothers, with a list of accusations he was about to write in an article specifically crafted to defame them.” The Hill Reporter and anti-Trump MeidasTouch PAC have an established relationship; the PAC’s videos regularly appear on the Reporter, accompanied by promises from the editor to Reporter readers that the site “will bring you their videos regularly, as they produce them.”

Rolling Stone readers and Twitter users seemed much less concerned on Friday about the relationships of PACS or articles “specifically crafted to defame them” than they did about the Trump and Saudi ties of Penske. The blog post showed a photo of Jay Penske in the Oval Office when Trump bestowed the medal of freedom on his father Roger.

Democratic writer and editor Grant Stern tweeted, “Rolling Stone used to be the home of Hunter S. Thompson, now people are tweeting #BoycottRollingStone after their ties to Trump and the Saudis have been exposed.”

Others urged their followers to “please read” the piece detailing the magazine’s “demise.” Federation of American Scientists fellow Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding repeatedly flagged the piece to his half-million followers.

Even actor and activist Rosanna Arquette got in on the call to boycott as it began to take off going into the weekend. Some Rolling Stone subscribers announced they have canceled their subscriptions.