Thank You, General McChrystal... Bergé Closer to Owning Le Monde...

Rolling Stone has a hit on its hands thanks to Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

THANK YOU, GENERAL: Rolling Stone has a hit on its hands thanks to Gen. Stanley McChrystal. Citing initial estimates from New York and Los Angeles (where the issue containing Michael Hastings’ bombshell profile of McChrystal went on sale Wednesday, before hitting national newsstands Friday), a spokesman for the magazine told WWD on Friday afternoon the double issue had already sold “at least five times the number we normally sell on newsstand, and that’s a conservative estimate. It’s easily shaping up to be the best-selling issue of the year.” (According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, last July’s double issue sold 124,676 copies; single-copy sales averaged 104,855 on the newsstand in the second half of 2009.)

The success is surprising for two reasons. First, the full article has been free and open to the public on the magazine’s Web site since Tuesday. — which keeps almost all magazine content behind a pay wall — saw a substantial uptick in traffic last week as a result. Between Tuesday morning and Thursday, the site clocked a total of 3 million unique visitors and 13.8 million page views, with the article itself receiving 2 million visitors and 5.9 million views, according to data provided by Rolling Stone. (In late May, averaged under 120,000 unique visitors a day, according to Quantcast.)

Then there’s the fact the article has had to battle the 24/7 news cycle — by the time the magazine had nationwide distribution, McChrystal was out, Gen. David Petraeus was in and Washington was focusing more on President Obama and Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev having hamburgers than on Afghanistan. Not to mention the fact that was scooped on its own article by Politico and which both, without permission, posted the full text on Tuesday before Rolling Stone did. Both swiftly took down the story after Rolling Stone complained. (“It was unauthorized and completely unacceptable,” said the magazine’s spokesman.) Regarding’s misstep — all the more eyebrow-raising given Time Inc. chief executive officer Ann Moore’s well-known and often expressed views on copyright-infringement issues — a Time Inc. spokeswoman told WWD, “Ann believes it was an honest mistake and we don’t believe it will happen in the future.”

— Nick Axelrod

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