On Wednesday’s Countdown show, which aired at 9:00 p.m. after President Obama's news conference, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann viciously slammed Republican Congresswoman Virginia Foxx for claiming that murder victim Matthew Shepard – whom the current hate crimes bill is named after – was targeted out of a desire to commit robbery rather than because of anti-gay sentiment by his attacker, contradicting the conventional wisdom that the grisly murder was a hate crime. The MSNBC host was so outraged at the North Carolina congresswoman that he named her as the night’s "Worst Person in the World" and showed particular venom toward her, even suggesting she should resign. Olbermann: "She is at best callous, insensitive, criminally misinformed. At worst she is a bald-faced liar. And if there is a spark of a human being in there somewhere, she should either immediately retract and apologize for her stupid and hurtful words or she should resign her seat in the House."
On the 11:00 p.m. special edition of Hardball, Chris Matthews and guests Joan Walsh of Salon and MSNBC political analyst Michelle Bernard also lambasted Foxx for her claim, with Walsh contending that she was either "lying" or "ignorant," and Matthews calling Foxx’s words "rough stuff." Walsh: "She's a hoax, Chris. She disgraced herself today. That was inaccurate. And what I really don't know is whether she’s lying – she knows the facts and she’s lying – or whether she’s so ignorant and arrogant that she didn’t need to delve into the facts."
But, on the November 26, 2004, 20/20, ABC host Elizabeth Vargas ran a report in which a number of figures tied to the case, including the prosecutor, were interviewed, and made a credible case that Shepard was targeted by Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson not because of anti-gay sentiment, but because McKinney was high on methamphetamines, giving him unusual violent tendencies as well as a desire for cash to buy more drugs. Vargas not only found that a meth high can lead to the kind of extreme violence perpetrated against Shepard, but that McKinney had gone on to similarly attack another man, causing a skull fracture, very soon after his attack on Shepard. Additionally, McKinney’s girlfriend and another friend of McKinney’s even claimed that McKinney himself has bisexual tendencies, although McKinney himself denied it.
Vargas appeared on the November 19, 2004, The O’Reilly Factor on FNC and summarized her findings: