The man who wrote the book “The Book of Matt,” which asserted as fact that Matthew Shepard was a methamphetamine dealer and the secret lover of his murderer, hosted a forum on “journalistic accountability” Tuesday in Laramie.

To a packed ballroom of Laramie residents, Jimenez and a panel criticized the “tremendous degradation of reporting” that presented Shepard’s 1998 murder as a black-and-white lynching of a gay man.

Jimenez’s own reporting, however, went unscrutinized by his fellow panelists during the three-hour forum.

When an audience member questioned the credibility of Jimenez’s sources, the author became defensive and cut the man off.

When Jimenez’s book was published in 2013, Albany County Sheriff David O’Malley and then-Undersheriff Rob DeBree described the book as “fiction.”

“As we know it, a lot of things in that book are not true or are incorrect,” O’Malley said at the time.

He said there wasn’t evidence Shepard and McKinney knew each other before the night of the attack that they were involved together in the meth trade.

The book, nevertheless, became a bestseller and provided comfort to Wyomingites who were bothered by Shepard’s murder having led to the Equality State being depicted as homophobic.

The panelists invited to Tuesday’s forum by Jimenez, like former Wyoming Tribune Eagle Editor Reed Eckhardt, expressed confidence in the veracity of Jimenez’s book.

“If this (book) had been presented by my staff, this would have been published in my newspaper,” Eckhardt said.

That panel also included former Laramie Mayor Trudy McCraken, Equality Forum Executive Director Malcolm Lazin and former St. Matthew’s Episcopal Cathedral priest Chuck Denison.

A few of the panelists took the opportunity to downplay the role of Russell Henderson in Shepard’s murder.

“Why should we be warehousing this individual and why should we not be working to making him a productive member of our community?” Lazin asked.

He claimed Henderson actually tried to stop McKinney from beating Shepard to death.

McCraken, a friend of Henderson’s grandmother, said Henderson was simply “at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

The forum also included a taped statement, filmed Monday, from Henderson, which presented him as a sympathetic figure. In the statement, the convict serving life in prison again denied Shepard’s sexuality played any role in the murder.

“There have been gay people in my life … that I cared for,” Henderson said. “I can only imagine what they thought when this happened. … It was never about us hating Matthew for who he was.”

Instead of protesting the forum, detractors of author Stephen Jimenez gathered at the Laramie Plains Civic Center for a dance organized as a direct response to the forum.

Wyoming Equality Executive Director Sara Burlingame, who organized the dance entitled “When They Go Low…We Go Dance,” called Jimenez’s narrative “snake oil salesmanship.”

“I think there is some misunderstanding that Jimenez is someone who has an alternative viewpoint,” Burlingame said. “We just read it differently, and it’s important to me that people understand that he is willfully and knowingly lying.”

(5) comments

Ohiamlost

This reporter apparently wrote this off of their viewpoint instead of the facts this person does not know how to do their homework and instead is downplaying the reality of what happened maybe they need to do some investigation themselves instead of pretending they are and writing their own view point. This is the worst piece of journalism I have ever read in my life and I've read some really crapy stuff. When you go to something like this you need to go in open minded instead of close minded thinking it's only one thing instead of another look at the evidence here what's going on look at the surroundings and then come to your own conclusion but make sure it is most likely the correct conclusion. What kills me the most about this is not only myself but there were many other people there that knew the real story knew the boys and the families and everything that actually transpired but yet this reporter refuses to remember that and the young man who left in rush didn't have his thoughts together nobody knew what his question was or what his statement was he was just babbling about a bunch of different things that he had read in another book he never asked a question he never fully formed a sentence or paragraph that made any sense. It sounds as if this reporter is mad that the truth come out and it's not about being gay. Not one thing that happened there is portrayed correctly. Steve Jimenez talked to many, many people and built his case unlike this reporter. Want to know what really happened at this forum ask everyone else, they'll at least tell you the truth.

Edgar

He was not directing a question towards anyone, however pointing out the flawed credibility of the book. Jimenez has a clear agenda; his book was largely based on the ABC 20/20 Episode of which the new origination later disputed. Fake news seems to be a statement from the far right to describe anything that does not fit into their world view.

Ohiamlost

He pointed out nothing in the book Jimenez wrote, he was reading from a different book. He must have been confused.

Ohiamlost

Keeping to the terms if this discussion such as truthful etc. Should have been done by this reporter too. Don't hold everyone else to these standards if you can't keep reporters from printing fake news.

Watch-Dog

Why does O'Malley call Shepard's murder a hate crime.

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