Abigail Suzanne Martin
|Education||San Diego State University|
|Occupation||Journalist, activist, artist|
Abigail Suzanne Martin is an American journalist, TV presenter and activist. She helped found the citizen journalism website Media Roots and serves on the board of directors for the Media Freedom Foundation which manages Project Censored. Martin appeared in the documentary film Project Censored The Movie: Ending the Reign of Junk Food News (2013), and co-directed 99%: The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film (2013).
She hosted Breaking the Set on the Russian state-sponsored network RT America from 2012 to 2015, and then launched The Empire Files in that same year as an investigative documentary and interview series on Telesur, later released as a web series. In 2019, she released the film documentary, The Empire Files: Gaza Fights for Freedom.
Martin grew up in Pleasanton, California, where she attended Amador Valley High School, graduating in 2002. She became interested in journalism when her old high school boyfriend enlisted in the military after the September 11 attacks in 2001. "I didn't want him going to war, let alone fighting in one," she recalls. "I began to critically ask 'What is really going on?'" By the time she was a sophomore at San Diego State University, she began questioning what she called the "selling" of the Iraq War by the media. She received an undergraduate degree in political science and minored in Spanish.
In 2004, she campaigned for John Kerry's presidential campaign, but became disillusioned with the left-right paradigm, a concept proposing that societies have a tendency to divide themselves into ideological opposites. Martin worked for a time as an investigative journalist for a San Diego-based online news site until moving back to Northern California.
9/11 Truth movement
In 2008, Martin was part of the 9/11 Truth movement, starting her own 9/11 Truther group in San Diego. In a 2008 video of a 9/11 truth movement demonstration, she said: "I’ve researched it for three years and every single thing that I uncover solidifies my belief that it was an inside job and that our government was complicit in what happened."
Shortly after beginning her show on RT, Martin stated in an interview with Mark Crispin Miller that "the media dismisses things that are too controversial as conspiracy theory". In March 2014, Martin told the Associated Press that she "no longer subscribes" to the theory that 9/11 was an inside job, as she had earlier.
In 2009, Martin founded the organization Media Roots, a citizen journalism platform for reporting news. As an independent journalist with Media Roots, Martin covered the Occupy Oakland actions during the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011. Her documentary video footage of Occupy Oakland protests was used by the family of Scott Olsen, a 24-year-old former Marine and Iraq War veteran, in a lawsuit against the Oakland Police Department. Martin's footage was used to argue that the protests were non-violent at the time Olsen was allegedly hit in the head with a police projectile. RT took notice of Martin's work and began using her as a correspondent. In the fall of 2010, she moved to Washington, D.C.
Breaking the Set and work for RT
From 2012 to 2015, Martin hosted her own show, Breaking the Set, on RT America. The program described itself as "a show that cuts through the false left/right paradigm set by the establishment and reports the hard facts". The original opening credits depict Martin applying a sledgehammer to a television tuned to CNN.
In 2014, Martin gained attention for her criticism of RT's coverage of the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation. Martin closed her show on March 3, 2014 with a minute-long statement condemning the Russian military intervention in Ukraine. Glenn Greenwald compared Martin's statement favorably to the unquestioning behavior of the United States media during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Critics of Martin argue that she appeared to be reading from a teleprompter, implying that her remarks were made with the consent of the show's producers. RT issued a statement saying: "Contrary to the popular opinion, RT doesn't beat its journalists into submission, and they are free to express their own opinions, not just in private but on the air." RT added: "[W]e'll be sending her to Crimea to give her an opportunity to make up her own mind from the epicentre of the story." Martin declined the offer, saying "I am not going to Crimea despite the statement RT has made." The New York Times wrote that RT notified Martin that what she had said about Ukraine was "not in line with our editorial policy".
Martin left RT in February 2015. Speaking for RT, Anna Belkina told BuzzFeed: "Abby decided that this is the time for her to try something new. We are proud of the great work she has done as the host of Breaking the Set."
Martin called the charges of foreign control over her and Tulsi Gabbard "neoMcCarthyist hysteria" typical of the New Cold War. She said that the "campaign to malign RT" by "the corporate media" had resulted in a chilling effect over legitimate dissident reporters. She said that she had "complete editorial control" over her RT show, as did other American RT journalists like Chris Hedges and Lee Camp. She had earlier refused RT's offer to send her on a tour of Crimea, saying she didn't want a "vetted PR experience."
The Empire Files
The show was originally hosted by Telesur English, a media outlet sponsored primarily by the government of Venezuela. Martin told Ben Norton writing for AlterNet: "The show is totally independent of Telesur. We merely sell them the content; they have zero control over anything we do". In 2018, Telesur stopped funding The Empire Files due to increasing US sanctions on Venezuela, according to a press release published by Martin's Media Roots website. In August 2018 the show moved to a donation model in order to continue production.
The show has since become a web series exclusively, with episodes being uploaded to Martin's website, YouTube and Vimeo. Released in May 2019, her feature film documentary, The Empire Files: Gaza Fights for Freedom, concerns the Gaza–Israel conflict. It was shown in the US, UK and Australia at independent theatres. In May 2021, Martin released the film for free on Youtube.
Free speech lawsuit
In February 2020, Martin's booking to speak at a conference at Georgia Southern University on Critical Media Literacy was cancelled when she refused to sign a pledge not to boycott Israel as required by law in the State of Georgia. Martin, represented by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, filed a free-speech lawsuit against the State of Georgia. The conference was later cancelled.
In May 2021, in a federal court hearing in Georgia, District Judge Mark Cohen ruled in Martin's favor when he found that a law created to discourage the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement was in violation of the First Amendment. Judge Cohen ruled that Georgia's law "prohibits inherently expressive conduct protected by the First Amendment."
Martin enjoys painting, photography, and making collages. Her themes include politics, nature, and psychedelia. Her works have been exhibited several times around California. She views art as "an amazing outlet" and a "way to interpret the ugly truths in the world and reflect a better future."
Martin is married to her Empire Files co-producer, Mike Prysner, an Iraq War veteran. They have one child.
Millennial Magazine said that Martin was an "unfiltered" media representative for the Millennial generation who reports "stories that deserve public recognition". Journalist Michael C. Moynihan states that "Martin’s politics are odious and frequently incoherent" for claiming to lament "lost American freedom" while ignoring the multiple brutalities of the Russian government before its invasion of Crimea and her defense of Hugo Chávez against the charge of tyranny.
James Kirchick, in a 2015 article for The Daily Beast, commented: "Thanks to her paymasters in the Kremlin, she had three years to use the network's airwaves and wildly popular YouTube channel to broadcast paranoid diatribes that would otherwise have languished in anonymity on the Internet fringe." Regarding her work on Venezuela, libertarian journalist and author John Stossel states that Martin "does government-funded propaganda for Telesur".
Martin has been criticized for her past support of the 9/11 truth movement. In 2014 New York Times columnist Robert Mackey contrasted Martin's critical remarks on the Russian annexation of Crimea with her conviction "that the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, were part of a government conspiracy." Author and media consultant Chez Pazienza criticized Martin for being a 9/11 Truther.
David Cromwell, British media campaigner of and co-editor of Media Lens, states that Martin is a "superb independent journalist ... who has risked her life to report what the corporate media is not telling you about Venezuela".
- Gaza Fights For Freedom (2019), director
- The Choice Is Ours (2016), as herself
- 99%: The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film (2013), co-director
- Project Censored the Movie (2013), as herself
- Martin, Abby. (2011). Framing the Messengers: Junk Food News and News Abuse for Dummies. In Mickey Huff (Ed.) Censored 2012: The Top 25 Censored Stories of 2010–11. Seven Stories Press. ISBN 1609803582.
- Martin, Abby. (2011). Media Democracy in Action. In Mickey Huff (Ed.) Censored 2012: The Top 25 Censored Stories of 2010–11. Seven Stories Press. ISBN 1609803582.
- Martin, Abby. (2015). The Unheard Story of Hurricane Katrina, Blackwater, White Militias & Community Empowerment: An interview with scott crow and Malik Rahim. In scott crow (Ed.) Emergency Hearts, Molotov Dreams: A scott crow Reader. GTK Press. ISBN 9780996546003.
- Martin, Abby (2018) Project Censored. Foreword by Abby Martin.
- Nemire, Jessica (March 21, 2014), Talking with Oakland-Born RT America Anchor Abby Martin About Art and Life, SF Weekly, archived from the original on March 23, 2014,
Born and raised in Pleasanton, Martin grew up ...
- Bakir, Vian (April 17, 2018). "Chapter One-Intelligence Elites and Civil Society". Intelligence Elites and Public Accountability: Relationships of Influence with Civil Society. Routledge. ISBN 9781351388955.
- MacLeod, Alan (April 24, 2019). "Introduction". Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. Routledge. ISBN 9780429772627.
- Huff, Mickey. (2012). Censored 2013: The Top Censored Stories and Media Analysis of 2011-2012. Seven Stories Press. ISBN 1609804236. p. 280.
- Huff, Mickey. (2013). Censored 2014: Fearless Speech in Fateful Times; The Top Censored Stories and Media Analysis of 2012-13. Seven Stories Press. ISBN 1609804953. p. 264.
- Anderson, John. (January 22, 2013). Review: ‘99%: The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film'. Variety. Retrieved January 17, 2014.
- Martin, Abby. (March 13, 2012). Presentation on Citizen Journalism. Media Literacy: Corporate Propaganda & Advocating Independent Journalism. Project Censored. San Francisco State University.
- Ciardelli, Dolores Fox. (September 6, 2002). Leaving for college. Pleasanton Weekly. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
- Koss, Jeremy (May–June 2013). "Real Talk". SOMA Magazine. 27 (3): 52–53. ISSN 0896-5005.
- Mckenty, Doug. (September 12, 2011). Interview with Abby Martin of Media Roots. Thursday Morning Report. KZYX. Event occurs from 1:58—3:26.
- Saportas, Oriana. (August 4, 2010). Interview with Abby Martin about Media Roots. Berkeley Community Media. Media Roots.
- Kerkman, Cassandra. Mosco, Oskar (ed). (July 31, 2012). MR Founder Abby Martin – Activist Turned Journalist. Media Roots.
- Mackey, Robert (March 4, 2014). "Russia Today Host Has Roots in '9/11 Truth' Movement". The New York Times. Retrieved August 3, 2014.
- Journal, Lucia Graves, National (March 5, 2014). "Confessions of a Former RT Employee". The Atlantic. Retrieved July 22, 2019.
- "WATCH: Russia Today Host Goes Rogue On Ukraine Occupation". HuffPost UK. March 4, 2014. Retrieved July 22, 2019.
- "RT journalist quits live on air, citing Russian intervention in Crimea". The Washington Post. 2014.
- Gray, Rosie (February 19, 2015). "RT Host Who Criticized Russia's Ukraine Invasion Is Leaving The Network". BuzzFeed. Retrieved April 20, 2015.
- News (March 5, 2014). "Watch as Russia Today presenter quits on live television over Moscow's actions in Crimea | National Post". Retrieved July 22, 2019.
- Bennett, Laura (March 5, 2014). "The Most Interesting Part of Abby Martin's Outburst on Russia Today: Its Aftermath". The New Republic. ISSN 0028-6583. Retrieved July 22, 2019.
- Kirchick, James (March 4, 2014). "RT Anchors Riff Not as 'Rogue' as it Seems". Tablet. Retrieved July 28, 2019.
On her program, she regularly gives air to outrageous conspiracy theories, including the notion that water fluoridation is a pernicious government plot to poison unsuspecting American citizens
- " Staged Terror, Fukushima Crime Syndicate, Conspiracy Reality", Breaking the Set, November 1, 2012, archived from the original on June 19, 2019, retrieved February 18, 2019
- Riechmann, Deb (March 5, 2014). "TV anchorwoman criticizes Kremlin on Ukraine". Big Story. Associated Press. Archived from the original on March 22, 2014.
She once protested with the 9/11 Truth movement, which alleges that U.S. government officials might have been complicit in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a theory to which Martin says she no longer subscribes
- Priesnitz, Wendy. (Sept/Oct 2011). Media Roots. The Media Beat. Natural Life, 141: 26. ISSN 0701-8002(subscription required)
- Reitman, Janet (March 27, 2014). The Young Renegade of TV News. Rolling Stone. 1205: 20. ISSN 0035-791X
- Martin, Abby. (October 25, 2011). Occupy Oakland: Police Standoff & Brutal Assault, Tear Gas. Media Roots. YouTube. Retrieved January 21, 2014.
- Ventura, Tyrel. (August 27, 2013). Abby Martin Discusses Breaking The Set and Her Work at RT. Buzzsaw. TheLip.tv. Retrieved January 13, 2014.
- Martin, Robbie. (October 6, 2010). Abby & Robbie Martin Introductions, Obama Administration. Dangerous Conversations. RadioIO.
- van Zuylen-Wood, Simon (May 4, 2017). "At RT, News Breaks You". www.bloomberg.com. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
- Bidder, Benjamin. "Putin's Weapon in the War of Images". Der Spiegel. 33. pp. 134–135. ISSN 0038-7452.
Bidder's article also appeared in other news outlets, such as "A anti-CNN russa na guerra das imagens" [Russian anti-CNN in the war of images]. O Estado de S. Paulo (in Portuguese). Brazil. September 1, 2013. Archived from the original on September 2, 2013.
- Breaking the Set: About. YouTube Channel. Retrieved January 16, 2014.
- Rankin, Jennifer (December 20, 2012). "Russia Today chases ratings with controversy". GlobalPost. Retrieved January 16, 2014.
- Austin, Henry (March 4, 2014). "News Anchor Slams Crimea Takeover on State-Funded Russian TV". NBC News. Retrieved March 4, 2014.
- Paget, Antonia (March 4, 2014). "Russia Today host condemns Ukraine 'occupation'". The Times. (subscription required)
- "Ukraine crisis: Could Russia Today turn you into a Putin propagandist?". The Independent. Retrieved August 25, 2018.
- Taylor, Adam. "RT journalist quits live on air, citing Russian intervention in Crimea" – via www.washingtonpost.com.
- Greenwald, Glenn (March 4, 2014). "RT Host Abby Martin Condemns Russian Incursion Into Crimea – On RT". The Intercept. Retrieved March 4, 2014.
- Krishnan, Joe (March 4, 2014). "Ukraine crisis: Russia Today TV host goes off-message with attack on intervention in Crimea". The Independent. Archived from the original on March 23, 2014.
However, sharp-eyed viewers may have noticed that she was reading from the auto-cue and, therefore, presumably had permission from producers of the show to express her beliefs.
- Graef, Aileen (March 4, 2014). "RT news anchor speaks out against Russian intervention". UPI. Archived from the original on March 23, 2014.
Media analysts say that Martin was reading from a teleprompter and therefore more than likely had her producer's consent
- "Russia TV host calls Ukraine intervention 'wrong' on-air". BBC News. March 4, 2014..
- Ensor, Josie (March 4, 2014). "Russia Today host who criticised Kremlin sent to Crimea". The Daily Telegraph.
- Rutenberg, Jim (September 18, 2016). "Larry King, the Russian Media and a Partisan Landscape". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 13, 2019.
- Gray, Rosie (March 9, 2015). "Jesse Ventura's Son And Oliver Stone's Son Get A Show At Russia Today". BuzzFeed. Retrieved April 20, 2015.
- "Useful Idiots: Abby Martin on New Doc 'Gaza Fights for Freedom'". Rolling Stone. October 25, 2019. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
- "Empire Files - YouTube". www.youtube.com. Retrieved August 11, 2020.
- Norton, Ben (June 3, 2017). "Venezuelan Opposition Spreads Lies About U.S. Journalists, Inciting Violence, Death Threats". AlterNet. Retrieved June 6, 2017.
- "US Sanctions Shut Down 'The Empire Files' with Abby Martin". Media Roots. Retrieved August 25, 2018.
The Empire Files ... has been funded through a contract with the TeleSUR network
- "Gaza Fights For Freedom | A Film by Abby Martin". Gaza Fights For Freedom. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
- abby. "'Gaza Fights For Freedom' Screening Tour with Abby Martin". MEDIA ROOTS – Reporting From Outside Party Lines. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
- "Civil Rights Groups to Announce Federal Free Speech Lawsuit Against Georgia's Unconstitutional 'Israel Boycott' Law". Yahoo Finance. February 10, 2020. Retrieved February 10, 2020.
- Schechter, Dave (February 13, 2020). "Georgia Anti-BDS Law Challenged". Atlanta Jewish Times. Retrieved February 15, 2020.
- Redden, Elizabeth (May 26, 2021). "Want Your Honorarium? Sign an Anti-BDS Pledge First". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved May 27, 2021.
- Neidig, Harper (May 24, 2021). "Federal judge says Georgia's anti-BDS law violates First Amendment". The Hill. Retrieved June 3, 2021.
- Hysen, Britt (July 28, 2014). RT Host Abby Martin Takes On Corporate Media. Millennial Magazine. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
- Moynihan, Michael (March 9, 2014). "How to Justify Russian Aggression". The Daily Beast. Retrieved February 13, 2019.
- Kirchick, James (March 12, 2015). "Putin TV Hires Conspiracy Royalty". The Daily Beast. Retrieved July 22, 2019.
- Stossel, John (May 4, 2018). "A journalist's propaganda for murderers". Pressconnects. USA Today. Retrieved February 13, 2019.
- "March 4 Updates on Ukraine Crisis". The New York Times. Retrieved March 29, 2014.
- "The Truth(er) About Abby Martin". Retrieved March 29, 2014.
- Cromwell, David (September 12, 2018). "Empire journalism". ColdType. Retrieved February 13, 2019.
To realise how incomplete and distorted is BBC News coverage, you only have to listen to the superb independent journalist Abby Martin, who has risked her life to report what the corporate media is not telling you about Venezuela
- "Gaza Fights For Freedom". gazafightsforfreedom.com. Retrieved August 11, 2020.
- "The Venus Project". imdb.com. The Venus Project. Retrieved January 23, 2016.
- "99% // The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film". 99percentfilm.com. Archived from the original on November 14, 2016. Retrieved November 14, 2016.
- "IMDb: Project Censored the Movie (2013)". imdb.com. IMDb. Retrieved November 14, 2016.
- "Project Censored — The News that Didn't Make the News and Why". projectcensored.org. Project Censored.
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