Ken Shepherd lives in New Carrollton, Md., with his wife, Laura, and children Mercy and Abraham. Ken graduated cum laude from the University of Maryland in 2001 with a Bachelors of Arts in Government & Politics and a citation in Public Leadership. 

Ken has worked full-time for the Media Research Center since May 2001 and prior to that was an MRC New Analysis Division intern from October 1998 to May 2001. 

In his spare time, Ken enjoys karaoke, tennis, reading, and discussing theology or politics.

Latest from Ken Shepherd
May 9, 2009, 12:02 PM EDT

If you're a country music fan you might be advised to avoid reading the Washington Post Style section when its writers tackle country music. It might make you want to put your boot up the critic's posterior.

The latest nuisance is J. Freedom du Lac's analysis of why country music radio is so chock full of songs about small town America. To you and me, the answer might be obvious, but du Lac set out to paint the trend as "divisive" and reactionary. In this excerpt, du Lac sets out to discredit the professional opinion of a D.C.-area country music station programmer:

Says Meg Stevens, the WMZQ program director: "It's a global theme: Wherever you're from, that's your place. You see what's happening with the economy and what's going on in the world, and people are getting in closer to their roots and their community, whether you're from rural Virginia or downtown D.C."

But the Atkins song and others of its ilk -- from Jason Aldean's "Hicktown" and Miranda Lambert's "Famous in a Small Town" to Zac Brown Band's "Chicken Fried" and Josh Turner's "Way Down South" -- are narrowcasting to a specific community: the core country audience, whose roots aren't exactly in America's urban centers.

The symbolism and prideful sentiments of the songs are intended to create a sense of belonging among people with similar backgrounds and lifestyles, or at least people who romanticize life in the rural South. (It's not a place; it's a state of mind.) To some listeners, though, it might sound as if the artists are closing ranks.

May 8, 2009, 6:14 PM EDT

<div style="float: right"><object width="240" height="194"><param name="movie" value=";c1=0x2645A2&... name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><embed src=";c1=0x2645A2&... allowfullscreen="true" width="240" height="194"></embed></object></div>Chris Matthews just can't get it up. The Democratic Party label that is.<p>On the May 8 &quot;Hardball&quot;, the MSNBC anchor noted in his Political Sideshow segment that  Reps. Jim Moran (Va.) and Bob Brady (Pa.), are up in arms about erectile dysfunction drug ads running on television and are sponsoring legislation before the House to ban television stations from running ads for drugs like Viagra and Cialis from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. The Democratic congressmen argue the ads are indecent for children. [get audio for <a href=" target="_blank">download here</a>]</p><p>While the legislation's premise seems prudish at worst and laughably silly at best, Matthews insisted that the congressmen, who are &quot;regular guys&quot; and &quot;both friends of mine&quot; were simply &quot;looking out for the kids.&quot; All the same, he failed to give the Democratic Party credit for threatening the cold shower of government regulation on the drug commercials. </p>

May 8, 2009, 4:39 PM EDT

<div style="float: right"><object width="240" height="194"><param name="movie" value=";c1=0x1F43BB&... name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><embed src=";c1=0x1F43BB&... allowfullscreen="true" width="240" height="194"></embed></object></div>Mother's Day was <a href="" target="_blank">invented by Anna Jarvis</a>, a West Virginian who, from 1907 to 1914 devoted considerable energy to establishing state and national holidays marking Mother's Day. Jarvis's inspiration, of course, was her deep devotion to her late mother. <p>But don't tell Whoopi Goldberg that. [audio for <a href=" target="_blank">download here</a>]</p><p>&quot;I feel like Mother's Day is a man's holiday. You know, because it was put together, a woman didn't put together Mother's Day. A woman put together several other holidays but Mother's Day was not one of them,&quot; the moderator of ABC's &quot;The View&quot;  insisted on the May 8 program.</p><p>The faulty assertion came during a chat with Alyse Myers, author of &quot;Who Do You Think You Are?&quot;, which chronicles her strained relationship with her mother. </p>

May 7, 2009, 6:16 PM EDT

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May 7, 2009, 11:41 AM EDT

President Obama is proposing a measure today to slowly kill the D.C. school voucher program by attrition. Because the liberal National Education Association wants Congress to immediately kill the program, the Washington Post's Bill Turque and Shailagh Murray hailed Obama's plan as "an attempt to navigate a middle way on a contentious issue."

President Obama will propose setting aside enough money for all 1,716 students in the District's voucher program to continue receiving grants for private school tuition until they graduate from high school, but he would allow no new students to join the program, administration officials said yesterday.

The proposal, to be released in budget documents today, is an attempt to navigate a middle way on a contentious issue. School choice advocates, including Republicans and many low-income families, say the program gives poor children better access to quality education. Teachers unions and other education groups active in the Democratic Party regard vouchers as a drain on public education that benefits relatively few students, and they say the students don't achieve at appreciably higher levels at their new schools.

May 6, 2009, 2:36 PM EDT

<div style="float: right"><object width="240" height="194"><param name="movie" value=";c1=0x308C87&... name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><embed src=";c1=0x308C87&... allowfullscreen="true" width="240" height="194"></embed></object></div>After the hijacking of the MV Maersk Alabama, we often heard from the mainstream media about how shipping executive companies don't want to arm their civilian crews for fear of an escalation of violence from pirates, not to mention the potential legal and liability headaches presented by such a policy change.<p>Well, yesterday, shipping company executive Philip Shapiro threw a wrench in that meme in his testimony before a Senate subcommittee in which he called for Congress to remove the legal and regulatory obstacles to arming civilian merchant vessels.</p><p> Unfortunately the story was ignored this morning by the broadcast network morning shows. What's more, Nexis and Web site searches yielded no print stories from today's Washington Post, USA Today, Los Angeles Times  -- although there is an online <a href=",... target="_blank">article by Rebecca Cole available here</a> -- or the New York Times. The Gray Lady <a href="/blogs/ken-shepherd/2009/05/01/ny-times-fails-report-maersk-alabama-captains-call-arm-crews" target="_blank">also failed to report </a>on Richard Phillips' pro-armed crew remarks last week. </p><p>To its credit, CNN, both in print and broadcast, reported the story. From a <a href="" target="_blank">May 5 story</a>:</p><blockquote>

May 5, 2009, 5:29 PM EDT

The nation's gaffer-in-chief Joe Biden really stepped in it last week with his remarks about how Americans should avoid flying and taking the subway to avert coming down with the swine flu. It's safe to say the conventional wisdom around the country and inside the Beltway is that Biden really blundered.

But not to Newsweek's Conventional Wisdom, which in the May 11-18 edition gave Obama's veep a mere sideways arrow, hinting that role in pushing Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.) to become a Democrat mitigates his political foot-in-mouth disease:

arrow neutral Biden: Stupidly tells “Today” we shouldn’t travel. Stick to bringing GOPs across the aisle.

Of course, that presumes Specter as newly-minted Democrat is a master stroke, which is not necessarily the case. Indeed the evidence seems to point to the contrary.

May 4, 2009, 4:39 PM EDT

Bonnie Erbe | NewsBusters.orgThe line of liberal journalists waiting to give the GOP free advice on its future is longer than the queue for Jonas Brothers concert tickets and at least 100 times more petulant than the 'tweens lined up for same.

U.S. News & World Report contributing editor and PBS "To the Contrary" host Bonnie Erbe, for example, has been on a tear in recent weeks. Whether it's hyping Meghan McCain as a fresh voice for the GOP or praising Bristol Palin as more mature than her mother, Erbe has done little to hide her disdain for social conservatives in the Republican Party that can actually form their arguments without coming off like a vapid valley girl whining about, like, creepy old guys like Karl Rove.

Well, in an April 30 Thomas Jefferson Street blog post Erbe urged GOP chairman Michael Steele to abort the Republican Party's coalition with religious conservatives:

May 4, 2009, 11:57 AM EDT

Today's Los Angeles Times has a story about freelance comedy writers who get paid for their jokes submitted to late night comics that actually make the cut and air in a monologue. Times staffers Matea Gold and Richard Verrier report that "For some late-night hosts, the laughs come cheap."

But alas, it's actually a violation of labor contracts for late night shows to pay freelancers. What's more, with Conan O'Brien acceeding to Leno's throne in June, the practice is expected to stop altogether for NBC's "Tonight Show."

O'Brien is one of the few late-night hosts to refuse freelance jokes, and East Coast guild officials used his move to privately remind their California counterparts of the prohibition.

"Conan is one of the key players in this industry, and we knew he was pure on this issue," said Lowell Peterson, executive director of the WGA, East. "This was just an opportunity to let the West know that this was a culture that was moving west. We just want to encourage that culture."
May 1, 2009, 5:04 PM EDT

Dear religious pro-life Catholics, get over yourselves. Signed, Amy Sullivan.

Okay, I'm paraphrasing, but the Time magazine staffer practically expressed those sentiments in two April 30 Swampland blog posts wherein she suggests that even the pope wouldn't mind hanging out with Obama on stage at Notre Dame when he accepts his honorary doctorate later this month.

"The Vatican apparently needs to get on-message--its newpaper gives Obama's first 100 days a tentative thumbs-up," Sullivan snarkily noted in a an April 30 post entitled "The Phantom Menace," referring to the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), which Sullivan considers a virtually non-existent pro-life movement bogeyman:

[Ed Henry's press conference] question is a misstatement of Obama's campaign pledge to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund that "the first thing I'd do as President is sign the Freedom of Choice Act." Of course, before Obama could sign the bill, Congress would have to first pass it. And he's never expressed the hope that Congress drop what it's doing and prioritize FOCA.

Less than an hour later, Sullivan sought to marginalize conservative Catholics who are disturbed by Notre Dame honoring the very pro-choice President Obama:

May 1, 2009, 11:12 AM EDT

Yesterday I forecasted that by and large the mainstream media would paper over or outright ignore the testimony of Captain Richard Phillips. The commanding officer of the MV Maersk Alabama told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that arming senior officers on merchant ships should be part of a larger anti-piracy policy that includes beefed up U.S. Navy patrols and escorts. Also testifying, Maersk chairman John Clancey disagreed with his employee about arming the civilian sailors.

Well today, that newspaper which touts itself as bearing "all the news that's fit to print" failed to include a story on the testimony by the former Somali pirate hostage. That's right, the New York Times failed to even carry an Associated Press wire story, according to a search of the New York Times Web site for content published between April 30 and May 1 that mentions "Richard Phillips." A similar scouring of the print edition's A-section confirmed that the paper didn't carry the story.

What's more, it's not as though the Times was unaware of Phillips' testimony before the fact.  As Kate Phillips and Janie Lorber noted in an April 30 post at the Times' The Caucus blog:

April 30, 2009, 4:58 PM EDT

Richard Phillips in AP Photo, 4/30/2009 | NewsBusters.orgIt's bound to be mostly lost in the mainstream media thanks to swine flu and the Obama 100 days hype, but Richard Phillips testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today. In doing so, the captain of the MV Maersk Alabama called on lawmakers to open the way for at least some merchant sailors to be armed as part of a comprehensive anti-piracy policy that includes more military escorts.

The Chicago Tribune's Mark Silva has the story in an April 30 post in that paper's "The Swamp" blog. Silva reports that Phillips has a moderate stance on arming civilian crews -- he wants only the four most senior ranking officers aboard a given ship armed -- and that Phillips hopes for a greater U.S. Navy presence in escorting and protecting U.S. merchant vessels (emphases mine):

"First, I believe it is the responsibility of our government to protect the United States, including U.S.-flag vessels that are by definition an extension of the United States, their U.S. citizen crews, and our nation's worldwide commercial assets.

"So, it follows then that the most desirable and appropriate solution to piracy is for the United States government to provide protection, through military escorts and/or military detachments aboard U.S. vessels. That said, I am well aware that some will argue that there is a limit to any government's resources - even America's.

April 30, 2009, 1:24 PM EDT

While most of the mainstream media yawned at news that former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican Mary Ann Glendon was refusing Notre Dame's Laetare award due to the university honoring pro-choice President Barack Obama, USA Today's Cathy Lynn Grossman sure hasn't.

The religion reporter/blogger found her own unique, passive-aggressive way to slam Glendon's stand on principle by suggesting she's a self-righteous hypocrite.

In her April 30 post, "Who's a good enough Catholic for Notre Dame's top honor?", Grossman delighted in excerpting a satirical open letter by Jesuit priest Rev. James Martin, who penned a blog post for America magazine making light of the university's pressing need to find a new person to honor with the coveted Laetare Award (emphasis mine):

April 29, 2009, 5:41 PM EDT

<div style="float: right"><object width="240" height="194"><param name="movie" value=";c1=0x376974&... name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><embed src=";c1=0x376974&... allowfullscreen="true" width="240" height="194"></embed></object></div>Out: Former President Bush and his cocky, self-assured cowboy-like &quot;swagger,&quot; often dismissed as a negative quality for the 43rd president.<p>In: President Barack Obama's &quot;swagga,&quot; which is a sign of how suave and sophisticated the 44rd president is. </p><p>At least that's according to CNN, which shortly after 1 p.m. EDT today re-aired an interview that originally aired on April 25 on &quot;Saturday Morning News.&quot; In that interview, reporter T.J. Holmes sat down with a panel of African-American gentlemen to praise how they see Obama as another &quot;brotha&quot; who has &quot;swagga&quot; as Holmes put it. [audio <a href=" target="_blank">available here</a>]</p><p>The re-broadcast of the interview gave occasion for anchor Kyra Phillips to gush over the president as well, but unfortunately our DVR system failed to tape the 1 p.m. hour today. Luckily our DVRs did catch the original interview, an excerpt of which you can find embedded above at right:</p><blockquote>

April 29, 2009, 2:10 PM EDT

Eleanor Clift is by no stretch a conservative apologist, but her reporting in Newsweek on the Specter switch exposes an angle that the broadcast networks are omitting: the Machiavellian maneuvers behind-the-scenes to coax Specter to jump the GOP ship.

Of particular interest is Clift's revelation that Gov. Ed Rendell's motive for pushing Specter to become a Democrat was to shut down a potential Democratic rival for the U.S. Senate, Rep. Joe Sestak (Pa.) [emphasis mine].:

 Those who know Rendell say he really wants the seat that Specter holds but would not run against his friend. The scenario that was unfolding had Specter losing in the Republican primary to Club for Growth President Pat Toomy, the favorite of Pennsylvania's conservative Republican base, and then had Toomy losing to a Democrat in November 2010. The Democrat suiting up for that task was Rep. Joe Sestak, a retired Navy admiral in his second term, eager to move up, and at 57 years of age, young enough to stake a claim on the seat.

A Sestak candidacy would derail Rendell's future plans. Keeping Specter in the seat at his age, which is 79, makes it far more likely that the seat would open up in the kind of timetable Rendell would hope for.

April 29, 2009, 1:18 PM EDT

Keith Olbermann file screencapPlaying off Keith Olbermann's "Worst Person in the World" shtick, some clever fellow started a petition recently at calling on the "Countdown" host to return his recent pay raise to "Turbo Tax" Tim Geithner's Treasury Department. (h/t NewsBusters contributor Amy Menefee; see related story here)

The petition's full wording:

Dear Mr. Olbermann,

While General Electric, the parent-company of your MSNBC network, was negotiating a $126 billion taxpayer-funded bailout, you signed a new contract raising your salary from $4 million to $7.5 million annually. You have used your show as a platform to call for the resignation of corporate executives accepting excessive bonuses on the backs of taxpayers who are picking up the tab for these atrocious bailouts, yet you yourself have no problem engaging in the same “class economic rape” that you accuse them of.

April 28, 2009, 6:26 PM EDT

Imagine that former Vice President Dick Cheney was set to be honored next month at a Catholic university's commencement ceremony and news came down that another person to be honored at the same ceremony with a different award declined the honor, stating that she felt it inappropriate for the university to honor a man who believes in and furthered the use of torture by condoning waterboarding of enemy combatants.

The press, it's safe to say, would have a field day. But that's not the case with the news of Mary Ann Glendon -- a pro-life Catholic and Harvard professor who is displeased with Notre Dame honoring pro-choice President Barack Obama -- declining to accept the Laetare Award from Notre Dame University.

Yesterday evening NewsBusters Editor-at-Large Brent Baker noted that only NBC's "Nightly News" touched on the story, and that only briefly. This morning, not even NBC's "Today" show mentioned the development in the ongoing commencement speech controversy. Broadcast TV competitors "Good Morning America" and CBS's "The Early Show" ignored the story as well.

April 28, 2009, 3:00 PM EDT

While the media are now painting turncoat Sen. Arlen Specter ( D-Pa.) as a Republican moderate who laments how the party has left him behind, a search through the Media Research Center's archives finds that the MSM have painted the Keystone State liberal anywhere from being a mere "conservative" to a traitorous Torquemada to pro-choicers.

During the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings in October 1991, Time reporter Julie Johnson noted on the October 18 edition of "Washington Week in Review" that:

Arlen Specter took on this role as the Great Inquisitor. Some people [feminists] think he pilloried Anita Hill, that with his sort of low-blow hit on perjury, they're saying to a friend in Pennsylvania, who's been pro-choice, been on their side: 'How could you do this to me?'

On June 30 of the same year, NBC reporter Jim Miklaszewski laughably characterized the pro-choice Specter as a conservative pertaining to the abortion issue:

April 28, 2009, 11:59 AM EDT

A terse one-paragraph mea culpa by a White House staffer now qualifies as a "profuse apology" at least when it's the Obama White House, and the paper reporting the story is the Washington Post.

That's how the paper's Tomoeh Murakami Tse and Michael D. Shear characterized an apology by White House Military Office director Louis Caldera for Monday's low altitude flyover photo-op of New York Harbor. Here's same 54-word apology in its entirety:

Last week, I approved a mission over New York. I take responsibility for that decision. While federal authorities took the proper steps to notify state and local authorities in New York and New Jersey, it’s clear that the mission created confusion and disruption. I apologize and take responsibility for any distress that flight caused.

April 27, 2009, 6:24 PM EDT

Say you're the editor of a major U.S. city's newspaper and that sources in the national security community have informed your reporters that waterboarding was a crucial tactic in making a terrorist detainee spill his guts with information that, when followed up by authorities, thwarted a planned terrorist attack on same major U.S. city.

You would probably run the story on the front page with a banner headline to that effect, but at the very least you'd make sure that fact was reported in your paper's coverage.

That is, of course, unless you're the ideologically leftward, politically correct editors at the Los Angeles Times. Patterico has details in an April 27 post at his blog: