The Guardian helped peddle a thoroughly discredited book alleging that Matthew Shepard was murdered in a drug-related incident, even though lawyers and investigators involved in the case have denounced the book as “fictional.”
On October 25, The Guardian published an article by columnist Julie Bindel titled “The truth behind America's most famous gay-hate murder.” The report focuses on the widely discredited 2013 book The Book of Matt, in which author Stephen Jimenez attempts to make the case that Matthew Shepard's brutal murder in 1998 was drug-related and not, as it is widely believed, motivated by anti-gay hate.
The book has been criticized for relying on shoddy sources and omitting key facts about the case, prompting the Matthew Shepard Foundation to condemn the book for being based on rumors and innuendo.
Jimenez's book has been described as "fictional" by the lead detective in the case. People familiar with the murder - including one of the killer's appellate attorneys, Albany County Sheriff Dave O'Malley, and Albany County Undersheriff Robert Debree - have condemned the book as factually challenged.
But Bindel didn't include those criticisms in her piece. Instead, she portrayed Jimenez as a victim of gay activists' blind desire to hide the truth about Shepard's murder:
Jimenez has faced a barrage of criticism since the publication of his book and has had readings to promote the book boycotted. Jimenez claims, however, that many of his critics have not actually read it.
“People object to the idea of the book, rather than what is in the book,” says Jimenez. “The anger directed at me has been pretty extreme.”
[T]he mystery remains - not so much why Matthew died, but why the gay community, after almost five decades of campaigning for equal rights, relies so fundamentally on the image of the perfect martyr to represent the cause.
It's unclear why Bindel failed to mention the numerous flaws with Jimenez's book. She has previously been criticized for claiming that she chose to be gay and for making inflammatory comments about the transgender community.
Her article continues a troubling trend in which Jimenez's book is uncritically touted as a work of investigative journalism. Previously, Jimenez was been forced to rely on anti-LGBT outlets to promote his book. But now The Guardian has contributed to mainstreaming Jimenez's bogus account of one of America's most brutal anti-gay hate crimes.
Additionally, prior to publishing her report, Bindel reached out to Media Matters for a comment on Jimenez's book. She failed to include Media Matters' comment in her column. Below is the comment Media Matters provided to Bindel:
The problem goes beyond Jimenez's book contradicting the testimony of people intimately involved in Shepard's case. He relies on rumors, innuendo, and wild assumptions to support his theories. The Book of Matt reads more like a mystery novel than a serious investigation into Shepard's death.