The Peach

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Wednesday, November 24, 2004

The New Yellow Journalism

On November 26, ABC's 20/20 newsmagazine program will air what sounds like a seriously revisionist history of the murder of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyo. in 1998. Generally regarded as a vicious anti-gay hate crime, the murder is being recast in ABC's retelling as a mugging gone wrong. ABC's press release promises "surprising revelations, including Laramie's underground world of methamphetamine use that may have contributed to the crime and whether or not Shepard knew his killers."

Matthew Shepard's parents have spoken out against the broadcast, saying in part, "As a reputable news magazine show, 20/20 has an obligation to its viewers to present fair and truthful reporting, regardless of the subject matter. Based on the problematic wording of their press release, it appears that 20/20 may have strayed from this policy in the interest of strong ratings. "

The Peach would take that line of thinking further still. We would suggest that this broadcast represents a new and closer relationship between the SCLM's covert conservative agenda and its profit-motivated sensation mongering than we have seen before. Where elite right-wing critics have in the past decried sensationalism's corrosive effect on America's morals, they might now be able to embrace it as a force that furthers their ideology, even as it lines their pockets.

We rarely endorse boycotts, but are providing this link to the Boycott4Matthew Web site for Peach readers who might want to communicate their opinions to 20/20's corporate sponsors. At some point we must ensure that the corruption of journalism ceases to be profitable for these folks, or the current trend will only continue.

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