the inventor of the lie about Obama: the antisemitic certified psycho Andy Martin / and his enabler, Fox's Hannity
The New York Times
e-pub: Sunday 12 October 2008
print: Monday 13 October 2008 Page A-1
The Man Behind
by Jim Rutenberg
The most persistent falsehood about Senator Barack Obama’s background first hit in 2004 just two weeks after the Democratic convention speech that helped set him on the path to his presidential candidacy:
“Obama is a Muslim who has concealed his religion.”
That statement, contained in a press release, spun a complex tale about the ancestry of Mr. Obama, who is Christian.
The press release was picked up by a conservative Web site, FreeRepublic.com, and spread steadily as others elaborated on its claims over the years in e-mail messages, Web sites and books. It continues to drive other false rumors about Mr. Obama’s background.
Just last Friday, a woman told Senator John McCain at a town-hall-style meeting, “I have read about him,” and “he’s an Arab.” Mr. McCain corrected her.
Until this month, the man who is widely credited with starting the cyberwhisper campaign that still dogs Mr. Obama was a secondary character in news reports, with deep explorations of his background largely confined to liberal blogs.
But an appearance in a documentary-style program on the Fox News Channel watched by three million people last week thrust the man, Andy Martin, and his past into the foreground. The program allowed Mr. Martin to assert falsely and without challenge that Mr. Obama had once trained to overthrow the government.
An examination of legal documents and election filings, along with interviews with his acquaintances, revealed Mr. Martin, 62, to be a man with a history of scintillating if not always factual claims. He has left a trail of animosity — some of it provoked by anti-Jewish comments — among political leaders, lawyers and judges in three states over more than 30 years.
He is a law school graduate, but his admission to the Illinois bar was blocked in the 1970s after a psychiatric finding of “moderately severe character defect manifested by well-documented ideation with a paranoid flavor and a grandiose character.”
Though he is not a lawyer, Mr. Martin went on to become a prodigious filer of lawsuits, and he made unsuccessful attempts to win public office for both parties in three states, as well as for president at least twice, in 1988 and 2000. Based in Chicago, he now identifies himself as a writer who focuses on his anti-Obama Web site and press releases.
Mr. Martin, in a series of interviews, did not dispute his influence in Obama rumors.
“Everybody uses my research as a takeoff point,” Mr. Martin said, adding, however, that some take his writings “and exaggerate them to suit their own fantasies.”
As for his background, he said: “I’m a colorful person. There’s always somebody who has a legitimate cause in their mind to be angry with me.”
When questions were raised last week about Mr. Martin’s appearance and claims on “Hannity’s America” on Fox News, the program’s producer said Mr. Martin was clearly expressing his opinion and not necessarily fact.
It was not Mr. Martin's first turn on national television. The CBS News program "48 Hours" in 1993 devoted an hourlong program, "See You in Court; Civil War, Anthony Martin Clogs Legal System with Frivolous Lawsuits," to what it called his prolific filings. (Mr. Martin has
also been known as Anthony Martin-Trigona.) He has filed so many lawsuits that a judge barred him from doing so in any federal court without preliminary approval.
He prepared to run as a Democrat for Congress in Connecticut, where paperwork for one of his campaign committees listed as one purpose “to exterminate Jew power.” He ran as a Republican for the Florida State Senate and the United States Senate in Illinois. When running for president in 1999, he aired a television advertisement in New Hampshire that accused George W. Bush of using cocaine.
In the 1990s, Mr. Martin was jailed in a case in Florida involving a physical altercation.
His newfound prominence, and the persistence of his line of political attack — updated regularly on his Web site and through press releases — amazes those from his past.
“Well, that’s just a bookend for me,” said Tom Slade, a former chairman of the Florida Republican Party, whom Mr. Martin sued for refusing to support him. Mr. Slade said Mr. Martin was driven like “a run-over dog, but he’s fearless.”
Given Mr. Obama’s unusual background, which was the focus of his first book, it was perhaps bound to become fodder for some opposed to his candidacy.
Mr. Obama was raised mostly by his white mother, an atheist, and his grandparents, who were Protestant, in Hawaii. He hardly knew his father, a Kenyan from a Muslim family who variously considered himself atheist or agnostic, Mr. Obama wrote. For a few childhood years, Mr. Obama lived in Indonesia with a stepfather he described as loosely following a liberal Islam.
Theories about Mr. Obama’s background have taken on a life of their own. But independent analysts seeking the origins of the cyberspace attacks wind up at Mr. Martin’s first press release, posted on the Free Republic Web site in August 2004.
Its general outlines have turned up in a host of works that have expounded falsely on Mr. Obama’s heritage or supposed attempts to conceal it, including “Obama Nation,” the widely discredited best seller about Mr. Obama by Jerome R. Corsi. Mr. Corsi opens the book with a quote from Mr. Martin.
“What he’s generating gets picked up in other places,” said Danielle Allen, a professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., who has investigated the e-mail campaign’s circulation and origins, “and it’s an example of how the Internet has given power to sources we would have never taken seriously at another point in time.”
Ms. Allen said Mr. Martin’s original work found amplification in 2006, when a man named Ted Sampley wrote an article painting Mr. Obama as a secret practitioner of Islam. Quoting liberally from Mr. Martin, the article circulated on the Internet, and its contents eventually found their way into various e-mail messages, particularly an added claim that Mr. Obama had attended “Jakarta’s Muslim Wahhabi schools. Wahhabism is the radical teaching that created the Muslim terrorists who are now waging jihad on the rest of the world.”
Mr. Obama for two years attended a Catholic school in Indonesia, where he was taught about the Bible, he wrote in “Dreams From My Father,” and for two years went to an Indonesian public school open to all religions, where he was taught about the Koran.
Mr. Sampley, coincidentally, is a Vietnam veteran and longtime opponent of Mr. McCain and Senator John Kerry, both of whom he accused of ignoring his claims that American prisoners were left behind in Vietnam. He previously portrayed Mr. McCain as a “Manchurian candidate.” Speaking of Mr. Martin’s influence on his Obama writings, Mr. Sampley said, “I keyed off of his work.”
Mr. Martin’s depictions of Mr. Obama as a secret Muslim have found resonance among some Jewish voters who have received e-mail messages containing various versions of his initial theory, often by new authors and with new twists.
In his original press release, Mr. Martin wrote that he was personally “a strong supporter of the Muslim community.” But, he wrote of Mr. Obama, “it may well be that his concealment is meant to endanger Israel.” He added, “His Muslim religion would obviously raise serious questions in many Jewish circles.”
Yet in various court papers, Mr. Martin had impugned Jews. A motion he filed in a 1983 bankruptcy case called the judge “a crooked, slimy Jew who has a history of lying and thieving common to members of his race.”
In another motion, filed in 1983, Mr. Martin wrote, “I am able to understand how the Holocaust took place, and with every passing day feel less and less sorry that it did.”
In an interview, Mr. Martin denied some statements against Jews attributed to him in court papers, blaming malicious judges for inserting them.
But in his “48 Hours” interview in 1993, he affirmed a different anti-Semitic part of the affidavit that included the line about the Holocaust, saying, “The record speaks for itself.”
When asked Friday about an assertion in his court papers that “Jews, historically and in daily living, act through clans and in wolf pack syndrome,” he said, “That one sort of rings a bell.”
He said he was not anti-Semitic. “I was trying to show that everybody in the bankruptcy court was Jewish and I was not Jewish,” he said, “and I was being victimized by religious bias.”
In discussing the denial of his admission to the Illinois bar, Mr. Martin said the psychiatric exam listing him as having a “moderately severe personality defect” was spitefully written by an evaluator he had clashed with.
Mr. Martin, who says he is from a well-off banking and farming family, is clearly pleased with his newfound attention. But, he said, others have added to his work in “scary” ways.
“They Google ‘Islam’ and ‘Obama’ and my stuff comes up and they take that and kind of use that — like a Christmas tree, and they decorate it,” he said. For instance, he said, he did not necessarily ascribe to a widely circulated e-mail message from the Israeli right-wing activist Ruth Matar, which includes the false assertion, “If Obama were elected, he would be the first Arab-American president.”
He said he had at least come to “accept” Mr. Obama’s word that he had found Jesus Christ. His intent, he said, was only to educate.
Kitty Bennett contributed reporting.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: October 14, 2008
An article on Monday about Andy Martin, who has been a source of some of the false rumors about Senator Barack Obama’s background, referred incorrectly to an academic institution where a study of the rumors’ origins was conducted by Prof. Danielle Allen. The Institute for Advanced Study is located in Princeton, N.J., but is not part of Princeton University.
A version of this article appeared in print on October 13, 2008, on page A1 of the New York edition.
Book Attacking Obama Hopes To Repeat '04 Anti-Kerry Feat (August 13, 2008)
Want Obama in a Punch Line? First, Find a Joke (July 15, 2008)
Muslim Voters Detect a Snub From Obama (June 24, 2008)
Bloomberg, In Florida, Blasts Rumor About Obama (June 21, 2008)
Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company
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1.October 13, 2008 7:06 am
Why, NY Times, do you legitimize nut-case provocateurs by responding to them? What nitwitted impulse compelled you to write a brief on Obama's background, as if there was some "issue" about it? There is none. There are only cynical "conservatives" who live off your inability to ignore them.
— Jon, China
No big surprise that Fox News and Sean Hannity should be connected with and be standing behind this type of hatred and crazed ranting.
-- Jeff, New York
I'd rather have Obama as a president than Martin any day! I think having a president who is tolerant and open, and actually understands Islam (rather than has a knee-jerk reaction to the religion, lumping over 1 billion people who follow a generally peace-loving Islam into the same bucket as non-sanctioned fanatics) would be a benefit to the US. Oh, and I'm Jewish, by the way. Palin scares me a heck of a lot more than anything out there!
— debbie, new york
October 13, 2008 7:06 am
Don't you think this guy has had more than enough attention? This article was too even-handed for a disseminator of lies.
— John, Geneva, Switzerland
5.October 13, 2008 7:06 am
You had better hope people get the point of this article, that this man is a disgusting pathetic anti-Semitic liar. I'm nervous that you just thrust him and his despicable rants into the spotlight even more.
Be careful, New York Times.
— Naomi, Brooklyn, NY
6.October 13, 2008 7:06 am
What a wonderful country.. really:) dreams do come true. But then am I thinking of just a fictitious country that we all love so much.Maybe it has never existed..? only that can explain how one can get away with this absolutely slanderous behavior and be accepted by society.
Oh but I forget of course our constitution guarantees us Freedom of speech! Am I among the select few that feels so repulsed with this kind of slime? I went to a catholic school.. and I loved my teachers who were mostly nuns. Even though I am not Christian, I was always
proud to be from a convent! Is this Christianity, what the republican party and This slime ball espouses. One wonders how Taleban et al came to hold so much sway in the middle east? One can say most of them who belong to that school are not well educated. But what does one say to all the crazies here.. how are they getting away with just absolutely behaving like the lowest denominator possible.. how does Sean Hannity et al exist and have a following? Where is The Lord when you need him?
— Srikanth, Clifton
7.October 13, 2008 7:06 am
The "fair and balanced" news network does it again. FOX TV promotes what they want to promote whether it's true or not. When confronted by a Barack advisor on Andy Martin's lies and anti-semitism, Fox admitted nothing.
— CAS, NYC
8.October 13, 2008 7:06 am
the republicans are desperate.they will try to swift boat obama in the next three weeks.
— observer, us
9.October 13, 2008 7:06 am
Is this for real? It's hard to believe so many people have so little common sense that they would stoop to believing stuff like that. Or, are that many people filled with that much hate? I suppose that's about the best explanation for why the rest of us have had to put up with eight years of the no-class Bush.
— Andy Hain, Carmel, CA
10.October 13, 2008 7:06 am
What a lunatic. A shame that a large number of the American public believes this load of garbage. But then again, most of those that are ignorant enough to believe such ridiculousness probably wouldn't vote for Obama in the first place. Which really is a shame because they would probably be better off with him in the white house than with a Republican.
Thank you for your investigative research.
— Zach Claudino, Visalia, Ca
11.October 13, 2008 7:06 am
We need stronger libel laws in this country. The fact that someone can say and a national news organization can publish allegations that are patently false and intended to do the object of the statement harm without being subject to civil action because the object of the malicious statement is a public figure is just plain wrong.
Fox News is a travesty. Their idea of a good moderated discussion or debate is to have two people talking with raised voices in opposition of each other while Chris Wallace tut, tuts in the middle. The Republican guests are very good at shouting the other person down.
They need to come out of the closet and start wearing brown uniforms.
— Peter Martin, Grapevine, TX
12.October 13, 2008 7:06 am
When you get a moment, would you send memo's out to Senator McCain, Governor Palin, and News Corporation with a special attention to the Fox News Empire.
— Mark, Winnetka, IL
As so many of us on the "left" have realized over the years...vileness, hatred, libel, fascist-type propaganda and despicable lies, completely devoid of one ounce of journalistic
integrity finds a willing home at FOX news...FOX is not alone, there are many, (they are legion)....
— chabuka, Olympia, WA.
14.October 13, 2008 7:06 am
This is the typical GOP strategy; If you can't argue with the message, then smear the messenger. It worked on Gore and Kerry, but I hope Americans can never be fooled again by those who will stop at nothing, tell any lie or break any law, to win or get what they want. We can't afford (literally) another 8 years like the last 8.
— JimZ, Thousand Oaks, CA
15.October 13, 2008 7:06 am
My GOD what a loser. Is this all that is left of the Republican Party? It seems so.
— Scy, Dallas
16.October 13, 2008 7:06 am
It's incredible to me that there are rumors that he's a muslim among the same crowd that also propagated the rumors that he's a radical christian follower of Jeramiah Wright. I believe it shouldn't even matter what religion he is or who he listens to on weekends analyzing old books, but if people want to look at christian values, which candidate has stayed with one wife and which has a divorce.
— Matthew, Sydney, NSW
17.October 13, 2008 7:06 am
What this speaks to is not so much about this crackpot, but how an American news network like Fox and another hate filled and ignorant man such as Hannity would allow such slander to fill the airwaves.
You have an Austrailian, Rupert Murdoch, allowed by this government and Republican John McCain, who for many years was head of the Commerce Committee,to purchase multiple news outlets. It was Johm McCain's committee that let the laws be relaxed over how ownership of Radio, TV and newspapers could be bought. Murdoch has done the same in England and elsewhere and turned legitimate news into tabloid trash.
There is no dividing line between real news and Fox and something akin to the National Inquirer.
Then you hire ignorant bloviators such as Hannity and O'Reiley, who never let facts get in the way of a hate filled propoganda and guess what???? They sell this as real news and give voice to every hated filled crackpot living.
Allowing one man to buy up news outlets is akin to the Republicans allowing the financial institutions to have free wheeling laws that has caused no regulations and has driven our economy into a ditch.
Those laws, in place since the Great Depression, were overturned by Mr. Deregulator, Phil Gramm who is on McCain's short list for Secretary of the Treasury.
So, we have Bush/Cheney who started two wars and are complete failures in everything they have touched, Rupert Murdoch who allows the airwaves to be tainted with hate filled crackpots, and McCain's great friend to deregulate the financial markets and we have the perfect storm of destruction of America.
And Americans are suppose to buy their tripe of "Obama is a Muslim" or "Who is Obama" or "Obama hangs out with terrorists", at the same time these pigs are destroying this once great country? Not that it matters that none of the utterances are in any way true. We are suppose to believe these crackpots, all ?
Not this time !!
— TN60, Tennessee
18.October 13, 2008 7:06 am
Who is Hal Turner, and what is his relationship to Sean Hannity?
— swingvoter, Florida
19.October 13, 2008 7:06 am
What is most puzzling to me about this whole election rubbish is - what is CNN doing to counter this. I have seen nothing. In fact, at times, they have seemed more like Fox than Fox, especially during the primary season, when it came yo Hillary vs Obama. Your newspaper has been late to the game as well. Why is this?
— susan3631, australia
20.October 13, 2008 7:09 am
Obama, Fleger, Wright, and Farrakhan are easily linked together through Trinity United Church of Christ. Fleger attacks white people with 401k's as guilty of Slavery. Fleger defends Wright and Farrakhan.
Then, Farrakhan says, "we owe them the whole damn country!" Them referring to blacks. Get your head out of your ...
— Skeptician, Alabama
21.October 13, 2008 7:09 am
Slime hath a name; it is Andy Martin. He is what might be understood as the "intellectual" fire power behind the recent angry, racist mob gatherings that McCain/Palin rallies have become.
— John, Chicago
22.October 13, 2008 7:09 am
So that's how this stupid nonsense got started. I live not all that far from Indonesia and they simply do not have extremist madrassas in the country, they are not allowed.
The education system is pretty good, the people extremely moderate and mostly always have been and they have always been friends of Australia and the US.
— monty41, Australia
23.October 13, 2008 7:09 am
Fox News has been host to a string of blatantly and latently of anti-semitic incidents in recent weeks, of which giving Herr Martin a half-hour of air-time is only the next-to-the-latest. I'm disappointed you didn't take Herr Hannity more to task (or to task at all for that matter) for not only putting scum like Martin out there, but then refusing to take any responsibility for his actions in doing so---much like the candidate both of these, ahem, men would have us elect President.
By the way, for the latest anti-semitic bit, check out Gov. Huckabee's act earlier this evening---he and ignorant guests going after Speaker Pelosi for letting the House go on "vacation" on September 29, ignoring that it was in fact the Jewish New Year. Perhaps minor in the cosmic scheme, but all part of a pattern, it would seem.
— larnov, N. Hollywood
24.October 13, 2008 7:09 am
So, Fox News allowed Mr. Martin to assert falsely and without challenge that Mr. Obama had once trained to overthrow the government. Is Fox News held to the same standards as the Sci-Fi channel? Forget about running for president for the past year, would a man that trained to overthrow the government be allowed to serve in the U.S. Congress? Do people that watch Fox News believe such things are possible? Maybe I shouldn't be asking questions I don't want to hear the answer to...Fox News owes their viewers an explanation and an apology.
— Leonardo Canneto, Los Angeles
25.October 13, 2008 7:09 am
Anthony R. Martin-Trigona is the real name of the person now posing as Andy Martin.
In the 1970s, Mr. Anthony R. Martin-Trigona was a slum landlord in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, renting apartments to University of Illinois students. It was well-known that Martin-Trigona was a racist and anti-Semite. In once case, when Trigona found out that a property
manager had rented one of his apartments to black students, Trigona forced the tenants out by turning off the utilities to their apartment. The Champaign County Courthouse has the case records of this matter and other matters where Trigona harassed tenants.
Trigona frequently slandered Jews and harassed his female tenants. He frequently sued judges and government agencies alleging, inter alia, grand Jewish conspiracies to prevent his admission to the Illinois Bar.
Trigona, a tall large man, used to walk around town wearing Army fatigues and combat boots, and carrying a large stick. Most people gave him a wide berth.
It is difficult to believe than any news organization or website is giving this racist hatemonger a platform to spew his pathological hatred. Andy Martin is a fraud, a convicted criminal and the worst of America.
— WildOne, Portland