Monday, September 16, 2013

Media Matters calls out and destroys 'Matthew Shepard Trutherism'

By now, a lot of you are aware of a vile book coming out in October which will smear Matthew Shepard's name.

Openly gay author, Stephen Jimenez, is claiming that not only was Shepard's murder the result of a drug deal rather than because of anti-gay bias, but also Shepard and one of his murderers, Aaron McKinney, were lovers.

You can practically hear the religious right squealing and the concern trolls on our side of the spectrum rising up to defend this piece of hokum, even though Jimenez makes these assertions without an ounce of concrete evidence.

So it is again that I say THANK YOU to watchdog group Media Matters who reveals several facts about Jimenez's work which the religious right will deliberately omit and the mainstream media will probably accidentally omit.

I'm just going to give you some pertinent parts:

Right-wing media outlets are already celebrating a forthcoming book that claims that brutal 1998 murder of gay Wyoming teen Matthew Shepard - which became a rallying cry for LGBT activists - was actually fueled more by drug use than anti-gay bias.

In The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths about the Murder of Matthew Shepard, journalist Stephen Jimenez argues that Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson bludgeoned Shepard in a meth-fueled rage. Jimenez minimizes the role of anti-gay bias in the murder, writing that Shepard and McKinney had previously had sex and done meth together (an assertion that McKinney himself denies).

Although his report of a sexual history between Shepard and McKinney is new, Jimenez's central thesis - that drugs were the motivating factor in Shepard's murder - has been called into question before.

In November 2004, Jimenez co-produced a piece on the Shepard murder for ABC News' 20/20.  GLAAD highlighted key shortcomings in 20/20's report, including the lack of hard evidence that drugs were a factor and its failure to point out that McKinney himself had cited ant-gay bias as a central element in the case, even attempting to employ a "gay panic" defense at trial. Shepard's mother also condemned the report, criticizing its selective reading of evidence and accusing ABC of taking her comments out of context.

The 20/20 report neglected to mention another crucial detail: that Jimenez was a friend of Tim Newcomb, Henderson's defense attorney.

Most disturbingly, email correspondence revealed that the Jimenez had already decided that Shepard's murder wasn't an anti-gay hate crime before 20/20 even started its reporting. As Gay City News reported in December 2004:
Roughly two months before reporting began for a "20/20" piece on the Matthew Shepard killing, [Stephen Jimenez,] the freelance producer who sold the story to the ABC program had decided that methamphetamine motivated the murder and not anti-gay bias.
And barely two months into a six-month span of reporting on the piece, a "20/20" producer wrote in an e-mail that the "'hate crime' motivation of Shepard's death" was a "flawed theory."
Sean Maloney, a senior attorney at Willkie, Farr and Gallagher who represents the Matthew Shepard Foundation, said of "20/20"'s apparent prejudgment of the story, "This strikes us as bad journalism. There is a significant body of evidence that says that anti-gay bias played a role in Matt's death."
The November 26 story said that Aaron McKinney who, along with Russell Henderson, murdered Shepard on October 6, 1998 was fueled by meth. [emphasis added]

Media Matters goes on to detail the number of religious right groups and spokespeople who are now exploiting Jimenez's book to demonize the lgbt community at large.

I dare anyone to give me any crap about this book being written because of a "need to get the truth told."

 It's about money, pure and simple. And a group of hateful folks masquerading as Christians eager to besmirch the memory of a young man who cannot defend himself.

Where the hell is the decency in that?


Anonymous said...

I'm not entirely clear where the anger towards this book comes from. I haven't read the book (although I will look for it when it comes out in the next month), but the posts you link to spend most of their words defending hate crimes laws and point to anti-gay sources rather than issues with raised by the author.

Regardless of how the anti-gay forces use the book, that shouldn't stop us from asking inconvenient questions.

No, sadly Matthew Shepard can't defend himself, but he didn't ask to be the spotlight for a cause either.

BlackTsunami said...

Anonymous,u cannot be serious. The author makes unsubstantiated claims with no shred of proof whatsoever. Making claims you have not proven and then hiding behind the I'm just raising questions arguments is cheap

Anonymous said...

I'm very serious. The book isn't out yet, but from the interviews the author seems to be making a very specific claim...that meth rather than homosexuality was the central cause of his brutal murder. The author seems to have a number of on the record interviews with people who have direct knowledge of the facts of the case to back up the claim. He potentially has more evidence (police records and so forth), but we don't know that yet.

Yes some of these witnesses will have sketchy pasts. However the murderers were unsavory people and it isn't surprising that they surrounded themselves with similar types.

BlackTsunami said...

Claims he made ten years so and were disputed by those involved. Also officer involved criticized 20\20 report produced by author. And where is proof of claims?

WheresMyKoppy said...

There have been a few people speculating for several years that Matthew's murder was a 'drug deal gone horribly wrong'. I call bulls**t! All this talk really is is an attempt to try and shift some of the blame for his own murder on to the victim. If he's murdered because he's gay, it's a hate crime, and Matthew is guilty only of existing. However, if it's a drug deal gone wrong, Matthew has to take some of the blame. It's as simple as that. I don't believe a word of this drug deal nonsense.