Ken Shepherd

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Contributing writer

Ken Shepherd lives in New Carrollton, Md., with his wife, Laura, and children Mercy and Abraham. Ken graduated cum laude from the University of Maryland in 2001 with a Bachelors of Arts in Government & Politics and a citation in Public Leadership. 

Ken worked for the Media Research Center from May 2001 to April 2016.

In his spare time, Ken enjoys karaoke, tennis, reading, and discussing theology or politics.

Latest from Ken Shepherd

The Israeli commandos who intercepted a flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip on May 31 were cleared of wrongdoing by a military inquiry into the matter. The same panel faulted the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) for "mistakes that were made in decisions, including some taken at relatively high levels," according to retired Israeli Major General Giora Eiland.

While we at NewsBusters have taken Reuters to task before for their biased coverage of the Middle East, the news wire actually broke from the pack a bit in its portrayal of the story, focusing on the conclusion that there was no wrongdoing by the Israelis in the now infamous raid.

By contrast, the Washington Post and Associated Press opened their stories focused on the negative. Below are the lede paragraphs for the respective news agencies:

With just a few word changes, Andrew Romano's lead paragraph for his latest Newsweek item would make perfect sense:

Grown men don’t tend to worship other grown men—unless, of course, they happen to be professional journalists, in which case no bow is too deep, and no praise too fawning, for the 44th president of the United States: Saint Barack Obama.

Only in his version, it's "professional Republicans" and the object of veneration is "the 40th president of the United States: Saint Ronald Reagan."

While Romano mostly gives props to the late president himself for his political and policy successes while in the Oval Office, he takes glee in mocking conservatives who yearn for a modern-day Reagan, insisting that:

While the media have apparently given up -- if they ever seriously attempted -- on holding the Obama administration to account for its handling of the Gulf oil spill cleanup, Republican governors in the Gulf are a different story, particularly Louisiana's Bobby Jindal, a potential 2012 presidential hopeful.

In a short post at entitled "Battlefield General: Is Bobby Jindal Making Sense?", writer Alex Altman cast doubt on Jindal's handling of the oil spill cleanup while suggesting the conservative governor is hypocritical for his complaints about Obama's handling of the disaster at the federal level:

Reporting on CNN's firing of Octavia Nasr, AP's David Bauder buried the lede in his 7-paragraph July 8 story.

Here's Bauder's fourth paragraph wherein he described the Lebanese cleric that Nasr had praised as "[o]ne of Hezbollah's giants [she] respects a lot" (emphasis mine):

Lebanon's Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah died Sunday after a long illness. He was staunchly anti-American and linked to bombings that killed more than 260 Americans, a charge he denied. 

Here's Bauder's lead paragraph:

NEW YORK -- Octavia Nasr has been fired. CNN fired the editor responsible for Middle Eastern coverage after she posted a note  on Twitter expressing admiration for a late Lebanese cleric considered an inspiration for the Hezbollah militant movement. 

Wouldn't a better lede incorporate elements of the fourth paragraph? Something like:

Happy belated birthday, America, your presence in Afghanistan is "inherently corrupting." That's the message Rachel Maddow gave on her July 6 program.

During the Bush administration, the Left often argued that the president had distracted America by engaging in hostilities in Iraq, bleeding resources and attention away from the real war on terror in Afghanistan, which had harbored al Qaeda pre-9/11.

Now with Iraq all but won following the success of the Bush-approved, Petraeus-executed "surge," the Left is becoming vocal in its opposition to the war in Afghanistan and finding a platform on MSNBC.

Daytime network anchor Dylan Ratigan has been calling for withdrawal from Afghanistan for weeks, arguing that the war in Afghanistan has lasted longer than Vietnam and been a needless waste of money.

Now Ratigan's colleague has joined in the chorus. On the Tuesday, July 6 edition of her eponymous show, Maddow made this argument:

Last night the White House announced a recess appointment for a man who's gone on record praising Britain's one-size-fits-all single-payer National Health Service to head up the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Covering the development, Time magazine's Adam Sorensen cast the appointment of Dr. Donald Berwick (pictured at right) as a blow to "hyperbolic" Republicans who hoped to make political hay out of the Harvard professor's confirmation hearings, yet Sorensen failed to carry any criticism of the Obama administration for the "unusual" maneuver or to examine how the move might bode poorly for Democrats given the public's concerns over the impact of ObamaCare on the health-care system.

Here's the item in full from Sorensen's July 7 "Morning Must Reads" digest on's Swampland blog (emphases mine):

As is its custom from time to time, the Castro regime trotted out former refugee Elian Gonzalez for PR purposes yesterday. This time the cause of celebration was the 10th anniversary of the young man's return to the Communist regime on June 28, 2000.

Associated Press reporter Will Wiessert covered the story, which I found published at with the headline, "A Decade Later, Elian Gonzalez Speaks Out."

Wiessert began by noting that "Elian Gonzalez says he's not angry at his Miami relatives who fought to keep him in the United States" and that he was "thankful [that] 'a large part of the American public' supported him being reunited with his father in Cuba."

Later in his article, Wiessert insisted that "Cuba has worked to play down the public persona of both" Elian and his father since June 2000, but that "the latest anniversary of their triumphant return proved an exception."

Given that our tax dollars are subsidizing her salary, is it too much to expect PBS's Bonnie Erbe to have at least some intelligent command of the issues of the day?

On second thought, don't answer that.

In her latest blogging misadventure at, the "To the Contrary" host portrayed yesterday's 5-4 ruling in McDonald v. City of Chicago as a blow to "local rights":

The Supreme Court's decision, taking away important local rights to control gun ownership, marks another sad day in America's now seemingly endless political appetite for increasing the number of privately owned guns in this country.

"The last day of school shouldn't mean last call for lunch."

That's how CBS's Katie Couric melodramatically concluded her June 25 "Notebook" item on her Couric & Co. blog.

The "Evening News" anchor pointed to a report by the liberal Center for American Progress -- without, of course, noting the group's leftward bent -- that found "that nearly 20 million children get free or reduced-price lunch at school. But only one in six of them will receive subsidized meals this summer."

Couric concluded from this that "[n]early one in four children is at risk for hunger" over the summer and called "essential" a bill before Congress to "improve access to summer meals."

Of course nowhere in her Notebook item did Couric weigh whether this might be a matter better left to state and local governments -- especially when the federal government is drowning in red ink -- or better yet, to parents themselves.

Reacting to colleague Alex Altman's brief, just-the-facts-styled Swampland blog post "SCOTUS Solidifies Gun Rights," Time's Michael Scherer responded a few hours later with the following post:

"Supreme Court extends gun rights" a headline on the Web site for the Chicago Tribune erroneously claims today.

The link on the page brought readers to a story entitled "Supreme Court extends gun rights in Chicago case." Here's the opening paragraph:

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court reversed a ruling upholding Chicago's ban today and extended the reach of the 2nd Amendment as a nationwide protection against laws that infringe the "right to keep and bear arms."

But that language suggests that the Court invented a right out of whole cloth rather than grounded its decision in the Constitution itself. In truth, what the Supreme Court found in McDonald v. City of Chicago was that the 2nd Amendment's guarantee of the individual's right to firearm ownership is incorporated to the states via the 14th Amendment's Due Process Clause.

"The right to keep and bear arms must be regarded as a substantive guarantee, not a prohibition that could be ignored so long as the States legislated in an even handed manner," Justice Alito wrote for the Court. 

"Being a suicide bomber is the new political role model," Chris Matthews told his Friday "Hardball" audience. "Just kill everything, destroy everything, blow it up, nothing gets done. You're dead, but who cares?" he added, referring to conservative Republicans running against Democrats in the 2010 midterms.

The comment came at the end of a segment featuring Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) and Politico's Jim VandeHei. Matthews had complained to the latter that the congressional minority Republicans were intent not merely on tinkering around the edges of the majority Democrats' policy proposals but on "destroy[ing] the United States government every time it gets up in the morning" all to the applause of "its cheering section back home say[ing] good work, keep trying to destroy the government."

[MP3 audio available here; WMV video available here]

It seems no section of the newspaper is free of bias and/or political cheap shots.

Take today's Local Living section of the Washington Post, whose "on gardening" feature writer Adrian Higgins blasted "Sarah Palin's... wrong to the landscape"* in the form of the 14-foot-tall wooden fence she erected between her Wasilla, Alaska, property and an adjacent lot rented by author Joe McGinniss:

Do bad neighbors make bad fences? I've seen a few fences in my time, but none quite as defiantly ugly as the one now shielding Sarah Palin and her family from what she suggests are the prying eyes of her new neighbor, an author named Joe McGinniss. 


Between the ongoing Gulf oil spill and the McChrystal row, this story is bound to get put on the back burner, but it still deserves attention by the broadcast and cable news media.

Yesterday I wrote about the Washington Post burying its story on House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer saying that congressional Democrats were not wedded to President Obama's 2008 campaign pledge to not raise taxes on anyone earning less than $250,000 per year.

Asked about those remarks at yesterday's White House press briefing, Robert Gibbs said he had not seen the comments and would "be happy to look at and try to get a response after this [briefing]."

Hours later, The Hill newspaper's Alexander Bolton filed a story that noted it's not just Hoyer who's staking out this position:

In a recent interview, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said that the Bush tax cuts that affect the middle class should not be considered "totally sacrosanct."

The number two Democrat in the House of Representatives "acknowledg[ed] that it would be difficult to reduce long-term deficits without breaking President Obama's pledge to protect families earning less than $250,000 a year," reported Lori Montgomery in the June 22 Washington Post.

That certainly sounds worthy of front-page placement, especially in the midst of a contentious midterm election year, but Post editors instead parked the 9-paragraph story below the fold on page A13 of the print edition and gave it a snoozer of a headline: "Hoyer: Tax cuts need to be examined."

"Middle-class benefit may not be affordable long-term, he says," the subheader dryly noted.

Liberals in the media frequently paint conservatives and Tea Party activists as pushing the GOP too far to the right to be electable in general elections. But the same complaint isn't repeated on an endless loop when it comes to leftist activists challenging more centrist Democratic incumbents in primary contests.

In fact, in some of those occasions, the media find a way to cast aspersions on Republicans.

Take, for instance, a June 22 story on, the headline for which posed the question, "Will Utah Republicans Play Dirty Today?" Writer McKay Coppins explained how one Republican state lawmaker had suggested that the party faithful in the state's 2nd Congressional District should take advantage of the Democrats' open primary system to cast votes for Claudia Wright, a liberal insurgent challenging Rep. Jim Matheson (D), rather than weighing in on the GOP primary contest.

Although he noted that historically such tactical voting hasn't been successful and that state Republican officials have officially "denounced the plan," Coppins explained that the local media have become fixated on the notion and at least one radio host has described the crossover voting idea as "sleazy":

How committed is the Washington Post to its crusade to see Congress abridge free speech under the guise of "campaign finance reform"? So much that it's willing to be a political bedfellow with the National Rifle Association, a group it detests for its persistent advocacy of Americans' Second Amendment liberties.

In a June 17 editorial, the Post voiced its support behind a bill that Democrats and some liberal Republicans have been cobbling together since the Supreme Court struck down a portion of the McCain-Feingold bill earlier this year. But the bill itself contains language that was tailor-made to carve out an exemption for the National Rifle Association. That exemption was included, it seems, to get the NRA to back down from opposing the bill and hence to prevent it from throwing the ire of its grassroots backers into the mix.

While there are both leftists and conservatives angry about this unholy alliance for wildly different reasons, the Post defended its support of the bill with its typical sanctimonious language about battling "shadowy" interests:

In a satellite interview with Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-La.) held shortly before 1 p.m. EDT today, MSNBC's Contessa Brewer criticized Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) for denouncing the president for pushing BP to agree to a $20-billion escrow account for oil spill damages as a "shakedown":

So, there's Joe Barton calling the $20 billion in escrow a shakedown, and as you point out, there are people in your district who have lost their livelihoods! They wonder how they can feed their families!

But yesterday, Brewer's MSNBC colleague Ed Schultz used similar language to voice his giddy approval of President Obama's maneuvering :

"Obama Chickens Out on Energy," a disgusted Ben Adler argued to Newsweek's The Gaggle blog readers this morning.

Adler's chief complaint with last night's Oval Office address: Obama didn't call for massive tax hikes to push Americans to make more politically correct spending choices.

The Newsweek writer -- formerly a self-styled "propagandist" for the liberal Center for American Progress -- avoided the T-word until his last paragraph, but he made abundantly clear that he felt that a) American stupidity and short-sightedness was threatening to literally drown Manhattan in rising sea levels and b) Obama was not doing enough to make government force people to make better choices with their own money (emphases mine):

"You have been weighed in the balances and found wanting." That's how the biblical prophet Daniel interpreted the writing on the wall that heralded the imminent demise of the Babylonian Empire.

It could also sum up journalist Sarah Pulliam Bailey's take on Lisa Miller's "Saint Sarah" piece in Newsweek (emphases mine):

Journalists have long been puzzled over Sarah Palin’s popularity. In November, Newsweek took a stab at the trend with its provocative cover of Palin in running clothes: “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Sarah Palin: How Sarah Palin Hurts the GOP And the Country.”


Lisa Miller’s thesis is compelling if it is true, but journalists usually rely on hard facts, polls, maybe interviews with political scientists to prove their points. Unfortunately, Miller’s article contains none of these to support her theory that Palin is somehow the new leader of the Christian Right. Instead, she strings together a bunch of anecdotes and quotes to prove what she thinks is happening. 

Pulliam Bailey devoted most of her June 14 Get Religion blog post to fisking Miller's argument. Here's just a sample (emphases are the author's):