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Matthew Shepard hate killing "a myth" says ABC News 20-20

Is this an honest investigative report or an attempt to rewrite history?
20-20 tonight devoted its entire hour to an "investigation" purporting to show that hate/homophobia had nothing to do with Matt Shepard's murder. 20-20 co-host Elizabeth Vargas conducted prison interviews with Matt's killers, who now repudiate their own defense at trial which was that the killing was motivated by "gay panic" after Matt made unwanted sexual advances, and claim that in reality the only motive was robbery. Various third parties made on-camera statements in "support" of this revised version of events, and claimed among other things that Matt Shepard was a dealer and user of methamphetamine who was the victim of a drugs-and-money-related robbery gone bad.

It's never surprising to find there are other sides to a story, but what bothers me about this is 20-20's hard sell that the Matt Shepard Story as we know it is a myth, a total fabrication, and that the self-serving claims made in the unconvincing interviews they aired are the reality. There may or may not be a news story here - ABC obviously thought there was - but is this honest and disinterested investigative reporting of new FACTS that have come to light, or is it something else? Is the 20-20 story intended - purely through unsubstantiated CLAIMS and hearsay that completely contradict sworn evidence at trial - to neutralize the potent anti-hate legacy of Matt Shepard's tragic death by removing its essential homophobic element and slandering him as a drug dealer and low-life in the process?

Is this a brazen attempt by powerful interests to write the Matt Shepard case out of the history books as a hate crime, and relegate it to the category of merely another drug-related murder? At a time when overt homophobia is again on the upswing and is actually being defended politically, and with anti-gay "morality" high on the agenda of the Christian Right, YOU decide.

For those who didn't watch it, the 20-20 transcript begins here:


wow 27.Nov.2004 02:18

how quickly the pendulum swingeth

This is such obvious reactionary propaganda that analysis seems superfluous and satire redundant.

PLEASE 27.Nov.2004 07:54


please, stop watching television. The beast will only be reigned in when people rise up and say NO!

History Rewritten 27.Nov.2004 10:39

a reader

Forgive me for making this analogy, but I feel I must. In my life, I have rubbed elbows with some right-wing evangelical sorts. They educated me on some concepts I had no previous idea about. As far as they were concerned, the Jews are not the descendents of the people who wrote the Bible, and Ann Frank was Christian, not Jewish. The reasoning is laughable--I know what it is but won't post it here. However, what fascinated me is that an oppressive group can't LIVE with the idea that their Bible was written by people outside of their faith or that a cultural icon extols the value of a different faith.

So, Matthew Shepard was martyred, and yes, they will try to take even that from his death.

"made unwanted sexual advances" 27.Nov.2004 12:19


There would be a hell of a lot of dead males if the same logic was applied to heterosexual dating. As if "gay panic" somehow legitimizes this hate crime.

painful 27.Nov.2004 12:42

just another queer

regardless of truth or not, it was painful to watch!! why now? does it matter REALLY why another queer was slain? 'they only wanted money' was repeated in the special about six times. the interviewer was obvious with her leading of the MURDERERS in the interview. actually stating something about the case and following with 'right?' ugh!!!

... 27.Nov.2004 12:57

this thing here

of all the possible stories out there that the "crack team of investigative journalists" at 20/20 could have taken on...

... and they chose this one.

reactionary propaganda is right. what a dangerous fucking joke. can anyone spot the little psyops bit: degrade the name and the memory of matthew shepard by merely mentioning his name in the same sentence as "methamphetamine" and "drug dealer"? no proof required of course. simply parrot the allegations of convicted murderers...

you can just see the propaganda machinery working behind the scenes. and isn't a dead man an easy target...

analysis of social degeneracy 27.Nov.2004 13:59

theresa mitchell

ABC's 'debunking' of the hate-killing is also a hate crime. I agree that it probably originated in some sort of Republican psyops department, probably the same one that came up with their 'debunking' of Mumia Abu Jamal's case. The effect will be to paint queers and queer supporters (the Left) as uninformed and hysterical (patriarchalist word consciously applied here).

The Right needs a new unbekannte to replace the Communists and Blacks. They still hate Blacks, but they know it's uncool to admit it. It is necessary to be able to target a population as the enemy. The beauty of targeting queers is that, like commies, anyone could be one, and everyone has to loudly proclaim and demonstrate that they are not--thus generating more hatred, and more 'political capital.'

Righties don't want to hear arguments and logic against this position, because they need to identify with a powerful 'protector.' They feel powerless (because they are, except for a tiny elite), and they can't face the fear of powerlessness, so they need to pretend that they are part of a great Right juggernaut. This serves as an anodyne against the fear and pain of their condition. I mention this because many lefties feel a great frustration when they present a perfectly good and canny argument against homophobia, and then discover that the Right refuses to even consider it.

It may be possible to construct a healing regime, perhaps using key calming phrases, that will get under the skin of the frightened Right and give them the courage to face reality. I intend to give this some thought...where logic fails, perhaps compassion and understanding can step in. (That is the chthonic side of compassion, I suppose--it allows efficient manipulation; but here I am speaking in a context of anti-compassionate manipulation, anyway, so maybe it works out morally!)

chthonic= spiritually dark side anodyne=pain reliever unbekannte (sp?)=unacceptable (in a genocidalist context) --sorry about that--

New Details? 27.Nov.2004 15:51

Bern Haggerty

I have looked at the ABC text, and I do not see any "new details." I am not sure exactly why ABC chose to give the woe-is-me-I'm-a-convicted-hate-criminal perspective this opportunity for prime-time promotion. Maybe they forsee an opportunity to associate themselves with some upcoming hysterical Congressional hearings. Regardless of their motives, however, the only "new" information included here is (1) a set of interviews with the perpetrators, and (2) some quotes from the prosecutor who lost re-election after a jury ACQUITTED McKinney (the actual killer) of first degree murder. In other words, the story attempts to re-construct public knowledge about a notorious hate crime from the perspective of killers and losers. Unfortunately, this same things happens too often in local police departments around the country as cops and prosecutors hush up hate crimes to protect their political bosses' reputations. This is the real story that needs telling. Shame on ABC. Bern Haggerty, Bellingham, WA.

THIS JUST IN... 27.Nov.2004 16:09

some kid

This Just In:

Every criminal in the world is completely and totally innocent.

How do I know this?

It's what they say. I'm taking what they say and presenting it to you as fact because it fits my political agenda. It's called journalism, I suppose. Fuck ABC. I just saw a 20/20 report that said that the enron executives "have done more good for the world than Mother Theresa". They're almost as bad as fox.

Link 27.Nov.2004 16:24

Bern Haggerty

AP Story about the prison interviews and McKinney's plea agreement:


oh yeah,let's NOW believe 2 CONVICTED and SELF-CONFESSED MURDERS! 27.Nov.2004 21:07

rat soup

that they reacted the WAY they DID due to "gay panic".

So NOW,after ALL these years,we are now suddenly,
when they NOW say it was NOT "gay panic" (and a hate crime)
but was due to being high on meth and that the
MURDER was a result of a "robbery attempt"?


Give me a frigging BREAK!

I can't wait to hear how LARD Larson will try to SPIN THIS one!

Watched a preview 27.Nov.2004 21:56


It was on the early morning ABC today or whatever it's called and part of what they are reporting is that Matthew's killers were on speed according to the interview with them.

But also ABC is claiming they have information that one of Matthew's killers was acually his gay lover and when the killers gave him a ride home from the bar Matthew put his hand on the guys knee. From what I could discern it made it sound like his killer might have murdered him to cover up the fact he was gay and part of killing him was to hide his gayness from his redneck buddies.

Which to me illustrates the stigma of being gay in society remains so strong that certain people will even kill to hide the fact. That needs to change. Until every single person treats gays as no different than others there is a problem in this country.

John Stossel is about the worst reporter in the business. The same guy who shilled for big agribusiness in a report about how much more "dangerous" organic produce is than chemically produced crops. He's a real zero alright.

Hate crime myth? 27.Nov.2004 22:39


The sad fact is, ALL murders are hate crimes. When someone devalues another individual enough to deprive them of life, that is hate. Whatever the reason, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or even if someone just wants to posess something someone else has, when someone acts to take a life, they are devaluing another person, and that is hate. It doesn't matter if a young man was murdered because of his sexual orientation, or for money, or whatever reason. This young man was somone's son, someone's friend, and he HAD VALUE and deserved better.

Hate 27.Nov.2004 22:55


Why do Christians fear hate crimes legislation? Because they belong to a organization that says its okay to kill people you don't like. Classic hate ideology. They are now attempting the delegitimizing and dehumanization of queers in preparation for getting them back into those closets (if they are lucky) or killing them outright (the bible says it ok).




QUIT WATCHING TV 28.Nov.2004 18:07


Quit watching TV
Cancel your subscriptions to:
Time Magazine
Sports Illustrated
Wall Street Journal
Cable Television
FOX (Fucks and fucks and fucks your brain)
New York Times
USA Today
the Turner Network

If your favorite radio station is owned by Clear Channel, you are sponsoring payment of Rupert Murdoch and his media empire (which owns Foxxxxx television and radio channels)

Alter Clear Channel billboards to say something other than what the message is!

Cancel your major bank accounts, go to small credit unions
Quit shopping at Safeway, Albertson, QFC, Kroger, Wal*mart, Sam's Stores, Cosco, GAP, Bon Marche, JC Penney, Sears, Benneton, Nike, Fred Meyer, etc.

Support Buffalo Exchange, local farmers markets, lesbian/gay/bi magazines, and alternative media! And let the ones you are saying good bye to, know that you are divesting yourself of them....

Oh, and most importantly, right now and as soon as possible: GET OUT OF DEBT! WE HAVE A HUGE CRASH COMING STARTING NEXT YEAR.