And that’s why i stopped watching network TV news, Charlie Brown
Last night, ABC’s 20/20 newsmagazine broadcast a report on what they call “new details” in the Matthew Shepard murder. It was very disturbing.
But I’m trying to make up my mind whether I’m more disturbed by:
1. The fact that I think it was a slanted piece relying on less than credible sources. Those sources being, primarily, the murderers and their friends and family.
2. The fact that it was such a repellent example of what network TV news has become. All picture-perfect anchors nodding empathetically as they intervew murderers, and evil music that takes the place of presenting real information.
There are a number of things about the report that don’t hold up, and relying on the word of the punks who committed the crime is only the most obvious. This viewer’s guide from GLAAD and the Matthew Shepard Foundation lists 10 of them.
Question raised by the viewers guide include:
Why would 20/20 so aggressively – and sensationally – attempt to rewrite the factual record of this case without a single piece of incontrovertible evidence to support their claims?
Molly Ivins said the trouble with TV news is that they never have time to get to the next paragraph. Another of the things that’s really weird is that almost none of the so called “new details” about the murder presented by ABC are really new, they appeared in such sources as Vanity Fair and Harper’s. Both those articles, which are lengthy but recommended if you want to grasp some of the context 20/20 omitted, were published in 1999.
The viewer’s guide concludes by saying:
Clearly, there may have been factors in addition to anti-gay bias involved in this case. But why is 20/20’s piece so determined not to examine the complexity of this crime, but instead to develop an inaccurate single-cause motive that runs counter to the facts of this case?
I can only speculate. But I can’t help thinking that:
By attempting to show that Shepard’s murder was not a homophobic “hate crime,” but just another example of why people should “just say no,” they take it out of a realm that (some) Democrats are comfortable with. And into one that Republicans dote on. Even though we know they’re as hypocritical about their drug use as they are their protests about sex on Monday Night Football.
But perhaps the most disturbing possibility of all was voiced by the “Kitten” (Willow & Tara fan) who made me aware of this story in the first place. Why would ABC run such a story?
since the Election showed that we queers are Society’s Scapegoats, it’s become like Open Season on us.
And I want to finish, for reasons that I don’t fully understand, with this:
If a child ever rose on the wings of a dove
Or the claws of a vulture
Then a man ain’t a man when he don’t understand…
–Thomas Dolby, “Pulp Culture”