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
March 3, 2011, 12:28 PM EST

Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan's federal minister for minorities and that government's only Christian, was assassinated yesterday on the streets of Islamabad. Bloomberg News is reporting that the Pakistan Taliban is claiming responsibility for the shooting:

As many as four men ambushed Shahbaz Bhatti, a 42-year-old Christian, yesterday as he left home without a security escort, Geo television reported, citing a police official, Bin Yamin. Bhatti was dead when brought to the city’s Al-Shifa Hospital, the institution’s spokesman, Azmatullah Quraishi, said by telephone.

 

Television channels showed leaflets found at the scene in which the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for killing Bhatti. They said he was targeted for heading a government- appointed committee to review the blasphemy law, which prescribes the death penalty for anyone convicted of insulting the Prophet Muhammad.

 

Bhatti, a Roman Catholic and former leader of Pakistan’s main minority-rights group, was killed eight weeks after Salman Taseer, governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province, was shot to death by one of his bodyguards. Both men had called publicly for changes to the [nation's blasphemy] law.

March 2, 2011, 4:42 PM EST

Given the sacrifices that U.S. sailors and Marines make to serve our country, it hardly seems right to me to force them to go for months on end aboard surface ships without the right to light up a smoke.

But I'm not Mark Thompson.

Today the Time magazine staffer dusted off a convenient but recently-ignored liberal media bogeyman, Big Tobacco:

March 2, 2011, 11:58 AM EST

Today's Supreme Court ruling in Snyder v. Phelps is proving to be yet another occasion for the media to falsely describe the homosexuality-fixated Westboro Baptist Church as a "fundamentalist" congregation.

The Associated Press, MSNBC and NPR.org have been among the news outlets using that tag for the Topeka, Kansas, organization that protests funerals of soliders, celebrating their deaths by claiming God killed them because he hates "fags."

But the AP's own style manual strongly cautions against the use of the term "fundamentalist," noting that the term "fundamentalist has to a large extent taken on pejorative connotations except when applied to groups that stress strict, literal interpretations of Scripture and separation from other Christians."

"In general," the AP manual adds, "do not use [the term] fundamentalist unless a group applies the word to itself."

At time of publication, Westboro's website was unavailable, but a cached version of its FAQ page on Google yielded no description of WBC as "fundamentalist." Here's how the church describes itself:

March 1, 2011, 6:08 PM EST

"President Obama has been taking a truckload of flak from the right for his measured response to the crises embroiling the Middle East," MSNBC's Martin Bashir harumphed as he opened his "Clear the Air" commentary on the March 1 program.

"Measured is my word because it's certainly not one that right-wing pundits have been using," Bashir complained.

Of course the term "measured" implies deliberate calculation and an overarching strategy, whereas the timeline of the Obama administration response to Libya suggests there has been, objectively speaking, some amount of "dithering" by team Obama.

Indeed, even liberal observers such as MSNBC's Chris Matthews and Washington Post's Eugene Robinson have been critical of Obama's approach to Libya.

February 28, 2011, 6:53 PM EST

Providing Washington Post Metro section readers a review of the just-closed legislative session of the Virginia General Assembly, staff writers Rosalind Helderman and Fredrick Kunkle today deployed some colorfully loaded language that portrayed conservative Republicans in an unfavorable light.

For example [emphasis mine], the "divided legislature reached a compromise on budget amendments that mollified Republicans bent on paring government to its core services and Democrats eager to restore spending on schools, health care and other priorities as the economy improves."

But what really struck me was the part a few paragraphs later where Helderman and Kunkle described the successful effort Republicans waged to pass a bill opposed by pro-choice activists and politicians [emphasis mine]:

February 28, 2011, 4:19 PM EST

Imagine that Pat Robertson or Dr. James Dobson took out a full-page ad in a mainstream media publication hinting that Jesus himself is squarely behind the Republicans' efforts to curb spending and curtail the size and scope of the federal government.

The media would certainly cover the interesting theological and political claims at hand but they'd also be certain to cite apolitical and/or liberal Christian thinkers who would decry the crass and cynical exploitation of Christ for political matters upon which Scripture is silent, such as the U.S. federal budget.

Yet when it came to the liberal group Sojourners asking "What Would Jesus Cut" in an ad in today's Politico, CNN's Belief Blog failed to report the objections of concerns that conservative Christians and apolitical Christian theologians would raise

From Dan Gilgoff's Feb. 28 CNN.com Belief Blog post (emphasis mine):

February 28, 2011, 12:09 PM EST

The secular mainstream media often do a shoddy job of accurately reporting on religious news, but this takes the cake.

Writing about how the Rev. James St. George was terminated earlier this month from his post as part-time professor at Chestnut Hill College, the Associated Press insisted the openly gay man "belong[s] to a branch of Catholicism not associated with the Vatican that has different views on gay issues."

The church where St. George is a pastor is "affiliated with the Old Catholic Apostolic Church of America, which vows no discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and performs commitment ceremonies for gays and lesbians," the Associated Press reported.

February 25, 2011, 4:03 PM EST

On Tuesday I wrote about how ESPN.com's Rick Reilly slammed 16-year-old Iowa wrestler Joel Northrup for his decision to forfeit a state tournament wrestling match against 14-year-old freshman Cassy Herkelman, citing his religious convictions about the impropriety of wrestling a girl.

Reilly mocked Northrup's beliefs as "wrong-headed," oddly comparing his refusal to wrestle Herkelman with someone using their religion to justify "pok[ing] the elderly with sharp sticks."

But it seems Reilly is an aberration with his bigoted vehemence, so I thought it good to point out a sports writer who commended Northrup's decision -- even though he respectfully disagrees with it -- and challenged America's kids to stay true to their convictions.

So kudos to Washington Post "Kids Post" feature writer Fred Bowen, for his February 24 article, "Honoring your beliefs makes you a winner."

Here's an excerpt:

 

February 25, 2011, 1:08 PM EST

Two Iranian warships docked in the Syrian seaport of Latakia on Thursday, the Associated Press reported yesterday:

The chief of Iran's navy, Adm. Habibollah Sayyari, said the frigate Alvand and the supply ship Kharq are in Syria for a training mission. He rejected Israeli criticism that the trip was provocative.

Of course, the Iranian and Syrian regimes are allies and co-sponsors of terroristic violence against the state of Israel, an ally of the United States.

So certainly such a provocative move should command coverage by the mainstream media, yet thus far among the Big Three networks, it appears from a search of Nexis that ABC has ignored the story while NBC and CBS have only done anchor briefs on the development.

 

February 24, 2011, 9:08 PM EST

Earlier today I noted that mainstream media have not been critical of the Obama administration's poor efforts at evacuating American nationals from Libya.

Oddly enough it appears the taxpayer-subsidized NPR has.

From Bill Chappell's Feb. 24 blog post, "U.S. Struggles to Evacuate Libya; Others Don't":

February 24, 2011, 4:49 PM EST

"Indefensible Marriage Act" blares the cover page headline for the Feb. 24 Express tabloid, a free publication of the Washington Post available around the D.C. metro area.

"In a major victory for gay rights, President Obama says the U.S. will no longer defend the federal law banning same-sex marriages," notes the caption for the photo depicting a hand holding both a miniature American flag and a miniature gay rights rainbow flag. On page 13 a subheading approvingly labels the move a "landmark call" by the Obama administration.

[see cover page image below page break]

February 24, 2011, 11:47 AM EST

During the Bush administration, the media perpetually pounded on news developments that highlighted real or imagined incompetence and/or the low regard with which the administration was held in foreign capitals.

But with the Obama administration's poor handling of the Libyan crisis, the MSM have been strangely mute.

Take for example the evaucation of American expatriates from Libya.

February 23, 2011, 4:30 PM EST

Those learned theologians on "The View" are at it again.

Discussing how Catholic canon law advisor Dr. Edward Peters has declared that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) committed an "objectively sacrilegious" act that "produces grave scandal" by receiving Communion on January 2, almost every panelist on ABC gabfest "The View" today rebuked the scholar for his pronouncement.

"Peters specifically cited Cuomo's cohabiting with Food Network hostess Sandra Lee as 'publicly acting in violation of a fundamental moral expectation of the Church,' and that 'as long as he persists in such conduct, he should refrain from taking Holy Communion,'" CNSNews.com's Michael Chapman noted on Monday.

[For full disclosure, CNSNews.com is owned by the parent company of NewsBusters, the Media Research Center.]

February 23, 2011, 12:59 PM EST

"U.S. still awaiting Libya's permission to evacuate Americans," blared the headline for a page A6 story in today's Washington Post.

"The United States has been unable to get Libya's permission to evacuate American citizens from the country, State Department officials said Tuesday, prompting the administration to temper its response to the Libyan crackdown," Post staffers Mary Beth Sheridan and Colum Lynch noted.

Gee, you'd think that should be front-page news, and it's difficult to imagine this not being front-page news had it happened under President George W. Bush's watch.

Since that article's publication, the State Department has chartered a ferry to evacuate American citizens from the country. From a story filed by Sheridan and Lynch at 11:15 a.m. EST today:

February 23, 2011, 10:55 AM EST

When a sitting U.S. congressman's behavior is so erratic and inexplicable that his own staffers want him to get psychiatric care and some of them quit in horror upon his reelection, it's a legitimate news story for national media coverage regardless of the political party of the person involved.

Of course, if the congressman were a Republican, it's difficult to imagine his political affiliation would go unmentioned in any media account.

But the federal legislator in question is Oregon Rep. David Wu, a Democrat.

In a February 23 Swampland blog post for Time.com, Amy Sullivan omitted Wu's political affiliation even as she detailed the troubling behavior he's exhibited over the past few months:

February 22, 2011, 11:08 AM EST

The Taliban is no longer in power, but the U.S.-supported government in Afghanistan has a long way to go towards supporting freedom of conscience for its people.

Take the plight of one Said Musa, who faces a death sentence for daring to be an ex-Muslim. The convert to Christianity most likely will suffer the death penalty for the capital crime of "apostasy." Paul Marshall at National Review Online last week noted that:

February 22, 2011, 9:05 AM EST

Don't 52-year-old sports writers have anything better to do than devote a whole column to deriding a teenage athlete's faith?

If you're Rick Reilly, apparently the answer is no.

Reilly wrote a February 19 piece at ESPN.com trashing the religious convictions of 16-year-old Iowa wrestler Joel Northrup, who forfeited a state tournament match rather than wrestle 14-year-old Cassy Herkelman, citing his Christian faith.

Even though the Herkelman family and another female wrestler in the state tournament lauded Northrup's decision to be true to his convictions, Reilly mounted his  secular pulpit to condemn Northrup's faith:

February 21, 2011, 6:01 PM EST

Leave it to "On Faith" to offer a Marxist/left-wing liberation theology twist on the public sector unions protesting Gov. Scott Walker's (R-Wis.) budget plans.

On Saturday the Washington Post/Newsweek online feature published a "Guest Voices" by Wendy Cooper in which the divinity student lamented that middle-class government workers in the Badger State have much in common with the masses in Tahrir Square in Cairo, as well as the ostracized imperial Roman tax collectors of Jesus' day  (emphasis mine):

February 21, 2011, 4:38 PM EST

Is context a four-letter word to MSNBC's Chris Matthews?

During the "Sideshow" segment on Friday's "Hardball," Matthews ripped a comment conservative Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) made during a recent speech to the Federalist Society in order to paint DeMint either as a birther or as one playing cynically to those who believe President Obama was not born in the United States.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Here's what he said: "This whole idea that the president is the leader of our country is a mistake." This whole idea that the president is the leader of our country is a mistake. How does that make any sense, unless you're a birther, and that's what he sounds like.

The liberal Talking Points Memo (TPM) blog broke that story Thursday afternoon, but at least TPM provided the full context of DeMint's February 17 comments (emphasis mine):

February 18, 2011, 4:09 PM EST

Earlier this afternoon, the House of Representatives voted for an amendment to a spending bill that would strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding.

Much of the debate on the measure happened last night, including a speech in opposition of the move by a Democratic congresswoman, Jackie Speier (D-Calif.),  who recalled her own abortion procedure.

After the vote came down today, ABCNews.com's Matthew Jaffe and John Parkinson posted an article that was skewed in favor of supporters of Planned Parenthood, featuring a video of Speier's nearly 3-minute-long speech and quoting heavily from that speech.

"Amendment Passes Despite Stunning Personal Testimony From Rep. Jackie Speier," lamented the subheadline to the story. [see screen capture after page break]