The New York Post lauded Stephen Jimenez as a fearless, dogged, and truth-telling reporter, ignoring the numerous substantive flaws in his new book claiming that Matthew Shepard's 1998 murder wasn't an anti-gay crime but the result of a meth deal gone awry.
In her October 28 column, the Post's Andrea Peyser effectively acted as Jimenez's stenographer, fawning over "the most dangerous journalist on earth" whose critics are irrational "protectors of Matthew Inc." Jimenez is so heroic, Peyser would have her readers believe, that he may well end up saving lives as a result of his book (emphasis added):
Stephen Jimenez didn't set out to be the most dangerous journalist on earth.
Or, more to the point, the most dangerous gay journalist.
But Jimenez unearthed a story that few people wanted to hear. And it calls into question everything you think you know about the life and death of one of the leading icons of our age.
Matthew Shepard, college student. Killed, at 21, for being gay.
Or was he?
Jimenez's "The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths About the Murder of Matthew Shepard," out last month, challenges every cultural myth surrounding Shepard's short life and unspeakable death. After some 13 years of digging, including interviews with more than 100 sources, including Shepard's killers, Jimenez makes a radioactive suggestion:
The grisly murder, 15 years ago this month, was no hate crime.
Shepard's tragic and untimely demise may not have been fueled by his sexual orientation, but by drugs. For Shepard had likely agreed to trade methamphetamines for sex. And it killed him.
Why dredge this up now? Jimenez's answer surprised me.
"As a gay man," he said, "I felt it was a moral thing to do."
Activists, journalists, politicians and filmmakers who, with the best of intentions, based careers on Shepard's murder are furious. But Jimenez insists he's willing to trade Shepard's irreproachable image for a serious talk about drugs. Meth, he said, is haunting the gay scene, bringing with it a plague of ultra-violence, new HIV infection -- and gay-bashing.
If this book saves one life, it's worth it.
I find it offensive that a gay journalist should be held to a different standard than a straight one. But Jimenez's every word has been vetted by protectors of Matthew Inc. to determine his agenda. Is he a traitor to the cause?
Jimenez is not the enemy. He's just a man who told an uncomfortable truth, as he saw it.
He should be proud.
New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser may have won the dubious honor for the most unhinged, and misogynistic, response to yesterday's news conference where a woman came forward and accused Republican Herman Cain of sexual misconduct.
While some conservative commentators found the accuser's presentation believable, as well as damaging to the Cain campaign, Rupert Murdoch's columnist viciously attacked the woman, mocked her looks, and assigned motivation to her decision to coming forward and tell her story.
From Peyser's "Jobless & Shameless Gal Going For Gold" column [emphasis added]
Sharon Bialek is 50, out of work and, according to one who knows her, she's a smooth operator living way above her means. From the look of her heavily painted face, she's also soon to be in acute need of a new tub of eyeliner.
Peyser claimed Cain's accuser "pranced" into her press conference "with a broad grin" on her face and reveled in the attention, "bleached-blond hair set in waves for the occasion." Peyser described the accuser's allegation of sexual misconduct as a "romantic farce," and claimed Bialek had "flirted like a tart" with Cain.
Peyser then quoted a vague, nameless source (i.e. "someone who knows Bialek"), who promptly trashed the woman as a freeloader:
According to someone who knows Bialek: "She has a very infectious personality. It's easy to see how she won [Cain] over. But the reality of her situation is -- she's a complete gold digger. It's all about the money."
The friend said she comes from a lower-middle-income family, but lives in a posh apartment running from bill collectors. "Most of her jobs ended in termination. It's always the employer's fault, not hers.
Incredibly, Peyser even zeroed on Bialek's young son, writing that his mother had forced the boy to live with "shame."
Last week many conservative commentators wondered why women who had previously accused Cain of sexual harassment were reluctant to come forward.
Peyser's rancid column provides some clues.
Cheered on by Fox News and the rest of the right-wing media, conservative activists spent the past year engaged in an anti-Muslim campaign that included efforts to block the planned Islamic center in lower Manhattan and demonize the imam spearheading the project. The bigotry has culminated in a Florida pastor's now-"suspended" plans to burn Qurans on September 11 -- plans that the pastor has explicitly linked to the controversy over the Islamic center.
Following the release of reportedly stolen emails from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, numerous right-wing media figures have attempted to undermine the case for action against global climate change by comparing the scientific consensus that human activity is driving global warming to a "cult." However, as the Union of Concerned Scientists has stated, the scientific understanding of climate change is "based on the work of thousands of scientists from hundreds of research institutions" and "[t]he e-mails provide no information that would affect" this understanding.