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Abby Martin

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Abby Martin
Abby Martin RT correspondent.png
Abby Martin in 2012 as RT America correspondent
Born
Abigail Suzanne Martin

(1984-09-06) September 6, 1984 (age 35)
EducationSan Diego State University
OccupationJournalist, activist, artist
Notable credit(s)
Media Roots
Breaking The Set (RT America)
Project Censored
The Empire Files (Telesur English)
Children1

Abigail Suzanne Martin (born September 6, 1984) is an American journalist[2][3] and TV presenter.

She hosted Breaking the Set on the Russian network RT America from 2012 to 2015. In 2015, Martin launched the investigative documentary and interview series The Empire Files, originally hosted by Telesur. According to The New York Times and Associated Press, Martin was, before starting her career in journalism, an active member of the 9/11 Truth movement, views that she has since disavowed.

Early life[edit]

Born in Oakland, California, Martin was raised in Pleasanton, where she attended local public schools. She graduated from Amador Valley High School in 2002.[4] After high school, Martin began painting and photography; some of her works were exhibited around California.[1]

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... I began to critically ask 'What is really going on?'"[5] By the time she was a sophomore at San Diego State University, Martin began to look into what she called the "selling" of the Iraq War by the media.[5] She received an undergraduate degree in political science and minored in Spanish.

Martin canvassed for John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign and participated in the Occupy movement, but eventually became disillusioned with the Democratic Party.[6][7] She worked for a San Diego-based online news site until moving back to Northern California.[8][better source needed]

Career[edit]

9/11 conspiracy theories[edit]

In 2008, Martin was part of the 9/11 Truth movement,[9][10][11][12][13][14] starting her own 9/11 Truther group in San Diego.[15][16] 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."[17]

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".[18] 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.[19]

Breaking the Set and work for RT[edit]

From 2012 to 2015, Martin hosted her own show, Breaking the Set, on RT America.[20][21] The program described itself as "a show that cuts through the false left/right paradigm set by the establishment and reports the hard facts".[22] The original opening credits depict Martin applying a sledgehammer to a television tuned to CNN.[23] Martin's show promoted conspiracy theories including the claim that water fluoridation was a government plot to poison unwary Americans.[17][24]

On RT in February 2013, she commented that Israel uses "Hitler's methods" to sustain a "Jewish majority".[25]

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.[26][27][28][29] Glenn Greenwald compared Martin's statement favorably to the unquestioning behavior of the United States media during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.[30] 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.[31][32] 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."[33] 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."[34] The New York Times wrote that RT notified Martin that what she had said about Ukraine was "not in line with our editorial policy".[35]

Martin left RT in February 2015.[14] 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."[14][36] James Kirchick commented that "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."[12]

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.[37] She had earlier refused RT's offer to send her on a tour of Crimea, saying she didn't want a "vetted PR experience."[14]

In January 2017, an Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) report released following Russian interference in the 2016 United States presidential election described Breaking the Set as being overwhelmingly focused on criticism of the United States and Western governments, stating that it had been promoting "radical discontent".[38][better source needed]

The Empire Files[edit]

Abby Martin interviewing a member of the Green Cross during the 2017 Venezuelan protests

In September 2015, Martin launched The Empire Files, an interview and documentary series. She has hosted guests such as Chris Hedges, Noam Chomsky, Richard D. Wolff, Ralph Nader and Jill Stein.[39] 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".[40] 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.[41]

The show has since become exclusively a web series, with episodes being uploaded to her website, YouTube and Vimeo. In May 2019, Martin released her feature film documentary, The Empire Files: Gaza Fights for Freedom, about the Gaza–Israel conflict.[42]

Free speech lawsuit[edit]

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.[43] The conference was later cancelled.[44]

Reception[edit]

Millennial Magazine said that Martin was an "unfiltered" media representative for the Millennial generation who reports "stories that deserve public recognition".[45] 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 defence of Hugo Chávez against the charge of tyranny.[46]

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 occupation of Crimea with her conviction "that the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, were part of a government conspiracy."[47] Author and media consultant Chez Pazienza criticized Martin for being a 9/11 Truther.[48]

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".[49] Regarding her work on Venezuela, libertarian journalist and author John Stossel states that Martin "does government-funded propaganda for Telesur".[50]

Personal life[edit]

Martin and Empire Files co-producer Mike Prysner became engaged in August 2018 and later married. Martin gave birth to their first child on May 31, 2020.

Selected work[edit]

Film

Books

  • 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.

Radio

  • Project Censored, KPFA (94.1 FM), co-host[55]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b 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
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ MacLeod, Alan (April 24, 2019). "Introduction". Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. Routledge. ISBN 9780429772627.
  4. ^ Ciardelli, Dolores Fox (September 6, 2002). "Leaving for college". Pleasanton Weekly. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  5. ^ a b Koss, Jeremy (May–June 2013). "Real Talk". SOMA Magazine. 27 (3): 52–53. ISSN 0896-5005.
  6. ^ Mckenty, Doug (September 12, 2011). "Interview with Abby Martin of Media Roots". Morning Report. KZYX. (Event occurs from 1:58—3:26.)
  7. ^ Butter, Susannah (March 12, 2014). "'I feel like I'm in House of Cards': an exclusive interview with Abby Martin, the Russia Today presenter who spoke out about Ukraine". Evening Standard.
  8. ^ Kerkman, Cassandra; Mosco, Oskar, eds. (July 31, 2012). "MR Founder Abby Martin – Activist Turned Journalist". Media Roots.
  9. ^ Mackey, Robert (March 4, 2014). "Russia Today Host Has Roots in '9/11 Truth' Movement". The New York Times. Retrieved August 3, 2014.
  10. ^ Journal, Lucia Graves, National (March 5, 2014). "Confessions of a Former RT Employee". The Atlantic. Retrieved July 22, 2019.
  11. ^ "WATCH: Russia Today Host Goes Rogue On Ukraine Occupation". HuffPost UK. March 4, 2014. Retrieved July 22, 2019.
  12. ^ a b Kirchick, James (March 12, 2015). "Putin TV Hires Conspiracy Royalty". The Daily Beast. Retrieved July 22, 2019.
  13. ^ "RT journalist quits live on air, citing Russian intervention in Crimea". The Washington Post. 2014.
  14. ^ a b c d Gray, Rosie (February 19, 2015). "RT Host Who Criticized Russia's Ukraine Invasion Is Leaving The Network". BuzzFeed. Retrieved April 20, 2015.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ a b Kirchick, James (March 4, 2014). "RT Anchors Riff Not as 'Rogue' as it Seems". Tablet. Retrieved July 28, 2019.
  18. ^ "[40] Staged Terror, Fukushima Crime Syndicate, Conspiracy Reality", Breaking the Set, November 1, 2012, retrieved February 18, 2019
  19. ^ 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
  20. ^ van Zuylen-Wood, Simon (May 4, 2017). "At RT, News Breaks You". www.bloomberg.com. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
  21. ^ 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.
  22. ^ Breaking the Set: About. YouTube Channel. Retrieved January 16, 2014.
  23. ^ Rankin, Jennifer (December 20, 2012). "Russia Today chases ratings with controversy". GlobalPost. Retrieved January 16, 2014.
  24. ^ Kirchick, James (April 4, 2017). "Putin TV Hires Conspiracy Royalty". The Daily Beast. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  25. ^ Pontz, Zach (February 3, 2013). "Shocking: Russia Today Presenter Abby Martin Accuses Israel of Using 'Hitler's Methods'". The Algemeiner. Retrieved July 28, 2019.
  26. ^ Austin, Henry (March 4, 2014). "News Anchor Slams Crimea Takeover on State-Funded Russian TV". NBC News. Retrieved March 4, 2014.
  27. ^ Paget, Antonia (March 4, 2014). "Russia Today host condemns Ukraine 'occupation'". The Times. (subscription required)
  28. ^ "Ukraine crisis: Could Russia Today turn you into a Putin propagandist?". The Independent. Retrieved August 25, 2018.
  29. ^ [1]
  30. ^ Greenwald, Glenn (March 4, 2014). "RT Host Abby Martin Condemns Russian Incursion Into Crimea – On RT". The Intercept. Retrieved March 4, 2014.
  31. ^ 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.
  32. ^ 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
  33. ^ "Russia TV host calls Ukraine intervention 'wrong' on-air". BBC News. March 4, 2014..
  34. ^ Ensor, Josie (March 4, 2014). "Russia Today host who criticised Kremlin sent to Crimea". The Daily Telegraph.
  35. ^ 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.
  36. ^ 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.
  37. ^ "Useful Idiots: Abby Martin on New Doc 'Gaza Fights for Freedom'". Rolling Stone. October 25, 2019. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
  38. ^ "Background to "Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections": The Analytic Process and CyberIncident Attribution" (PDF). Office of the Director of National Intelligence. January 6, 2017. Retrieved February 16, 2019.
  39. ^ https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCG29FnXZm4F5U8xpqs1cs1Q/videos
  40. ^ Norton, Ben (June 3, 2017). "Venezuelan Opposition Spreads Lies About U.S. Journalists, Inciting Violence, Death Threats". AlterNet. Retrieved June 6, 2017.
  41. ^ "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
  42. ^ "Gaza Fights For Freedom | A Film by Abby Martin". Gaza Fights For Freedom. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
  43. ^ "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.
  44. ^ Schechter, Dave (February 13, 2020). "Georgia Anti-BDS Law Challenged". Atlanta Jewish Times. Retrieved February 15, 2020.
  45. ^ Hysen, Britt (July 28, 2014). RT Host Abby Martin Takes On Corporate Media. Millennial Magazine. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
  46. ^ Moynihan, Michael (March 9, 2014). "How to Justify Russian Aggression". The Daily Beast. Retrieved February 13, 2019.
  47. ^ "March 4 Updates on Ukraine Crisis". The New York Times. Retrieved March 29, 2014.
  48. ^ "The Truth(er) About Abby Martin". Retrieved March 29, 2014.
  49. ^ 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
  50. ^ Stossel, John (May 4, 2018). "A journalist's propaganda for murderers". Pressconnects. USA Today. Retrieved February 13, 2019.
  51. ^ https://gazafightsforfreedom.com/
  52. ^ "99% // The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film". 99percentfilm.com. Archived from the original on November 14, 2016. Retrieved November 14, 2016.
  53. ^ "IMDb: Project Censored the Movie (2013)". imdb.com. IMDb. Retrieved November 14, 2016.
  54. ^ "The Venus Project". imdb.com. The Venus Project. Retrieved January 23, 2016.
  55. ^ "Project Censored — The News that Didn't Make the News and Why". projectcensored.org. Project Censored.

External links[edit]