Media Almost Totally Ignore Book Claiming Matthew Shepard Murder Wasn't a Hate Crime

The 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard is considered one of the nation's most notorious hate crimes.

Yet when a new book comes out by a gay author contending that Shepard was not killed because of his sexual orientation, America's media appear disinterested in reporting the new revelations.

"The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths About the Murder of Matthew Shepard" author Steve Jimenez sat down with NewsMax TV's Steve Malzberg Monday to discuss his book and his findings.

During the twelve minute segment, Malzberg showed how this murder was pivotal in sparking the gay rights movement, with comedienne Ellen DeGeneres leading the charge.

Yet despite revelations from the book first being leaked a few weeks ago, a LexisNexis search identified very little attention paid to them.

At press time, there has been not one mention of Jimenez's book or the new revelations on ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, or NBC.

Not one word.

During the interview, Malzberg asked Jimenez if he's been asked to appear on any of the television morning shows which typically love interviewing authors with new books coming out (official release date is Tuesday, September 24).

Jimenez told Malzberg to speak to his publicist. Malzberg did, and apparently they have yet to be booked on any of these shows.

As for print, I could find nothing about the book or the new revelations at the Associated Press, the New York Times, USA Today, or the Washington Post.

This silence isn't because such outlets aren't interested in Shepard.

Just this month, the Washington Post has on four separate occasions mentioned a new play about Shepard's death appearing at Ford's Theatre beginning September 27. The Post actually did a lengthy piece about the play last Friday:

Matthew Shepard’s murder was a watershed moment. That the phrase “anti-gay hate crimes” is part of the vernacular is due, in part, to his death. In 1998, Wyoming didn’t have a criminal statute regarding hate crimes, so McKinney and Russell weren’t charged with one.

Now, despite 15 years of progress and increased understanding, it’s unclear how much safer it is to be gay in the United States than it was when Shepard was alive. The most recent FBI statistics on hate crimes indicate that in 2011, rates of anti-gay violence increased about 2.6 percent nationally, from 1,470 to 1,508 incidents, even as the total number of hate crimes decreased.


Yet nowhere in the almost 1500-word article was there any mention of Jimenez's book or his claim that Shepard was killed because of drugs and not because he was gay.

I guess that wouldn't fit the Post's agenda.

The Associated Press also reported the Ford's Theatre play about Shepard earlier this month, but hasn't uttered a word about the new revelations about his death. 

Potentially most curious is the Advocate, the self-proclaimed "world's leading source for LGBT news and entertainment," published a very positive piece about Jimenez's book on September 13 entitled "Have We Got Matthew Shepard All Wrong?":

What if nearly everything you thought you knew about Matthew Shepard’s murder was wrong? What if our most fiercely held convictions about the circumstances of that fatal night of October 6, 1998, have obscured other, more critical, aspects of the case? How do people sold on one version of history react to being told that facts are slippery — that thinking of Shepard’s murder as a hate crime does not mean it was a hate crime? And how does it color our understanding of such a crime if the perpetrator and victim not only knew each other but also had sex together, bought drugs from one another, and partied together?

None of this is idle speculation; it’s the fruit of years of dogged investigation by journalist Stephen Jimenez, himself gay. In the course of his reporting, Jimenez interviewed over 100 subjects, including friends of Shepard and of his convicted killers, Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, as well as the killers themselves (though by the book’s end you may have more questions than answers about the extent of Henderson’s complicity). In the process, he amassed enough anecdotal evidence to build a persuasive case that Shepard’s sexuality was, if not incidental, certainly less central than popular consensus has lead us to believe.

So one of the leading sources for LGBT news and entertainment is out front on this story willing to give its readers these new revelations so that they can decide what the truth is.

But up till now, with few exceptions, America's mainstream media have completely ignored them.

Will that change now that the book is finally available to the public?

Stay tuned.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.