Abby Martin wasn’t sufficiently crazy.
When the American journalist announced last month that she was leaving the Kremlin-funded RT network, where she had hosted the program Breaking the Set for three years, speculation arose that her departure would mark a change in direction for the channel. Perhaps RT’s managers were tired of Martin’s John Birch Society-esque musings about how water fluoridation is a nefarious government scheme, or her accusations that Israel employs “Hitler methods.” Maybe they saw her frequent exposés of “false flag” operations as damaging to their credibility. Or possibly RT, whose slogan “Question More” is interpreted rather liberally by its hosts, was hoping to go mainstream and considered Martin too crazy for that purpose.
But now it appears that Martin left the network because the Russians running the operation concluded she isn’t crazy enough.
At least that’s the most likely explanation for the conspiracy theory-obsessed host’s exit, considering whom they’ve chosen to replace her. Filling Martin’s slot, according to BuzzFeed, will be Sean Stone and Tyrel Ventura, sons of film director Oliver Stone and former professional wrestler and Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura. The duo currently hosts an Internet show called Buzzsaw that features guests like “rogue Egyptologist” John Anthony West and breaks exclusive stories on the machinations of the Illuminati.
“Question more,” indeed.
Stone has come a long way since playing bit roles in his father’s movies. In 2012, he converted to Shia Islam while on a visit to Iran. Upon his return, he claimed that that former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was “misunderstood” when he denied the Holocaust and called for Israel’s destruction. Stone had told his Iranian interlocutors to “stop with this ‘Down with America’ nonsense.” It’s a plea that has apparently fallen on deaf ears, seeing that, as of last week, it remains a regular incantation at weekly prayers.
In hiring Stone and Ventura fils, RT seems to be operating on a policy of nepotism for conspiracy theorists. Stone the elder, after all, is one of America’s foremost propagators of the genre. Just witness his latest musings on Ukraine, where he has claimed a CIA coup brought down the pro-Russian former president Viktor Yanukovych. The two sons, prior to launching their web television show, worked on Ventura Sr.’s aptly named TruTv program Conspiracy Theory, which exposed how the Federal Emergency Management Agency has prepared concentration camps to intern American citizens under martial law, an old Ron Paul chestnut.
The hiring of this duo follows an RT pattern, which is to promote America’s outcasts, extremists, and other lunatics on the political margins by giving them an international audience for their lies and hysterical insinuations. Abby Martin would not have one-tenth the audience she has today had RT not plucked her from the obscurity she had been wallowing in as a foot soldier in the 9/11 Truth movement. On RT, she became the Russian-sponsored Tokyo Rose of Moscow’s 21st-century disinformation war against the West. 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. That’s because in addition to her crackpot views, Martin has zero charisma. Her stern delivery and vocal timbre and inflection combine to form a bad impersonation of Rachel Maddow, if the MSNBC host had long hair and was a devotee of InfoWars.
“Breaking the Set has been the most hard-hitting show on television, by far,” Martin said humbly in her sign-off broadcast. “Every single episode was packed with more information that you’d get from watching an entire year of CNN, as well as carried a punch to the gut of all the neocons, war propagandists, and lackey stenographers.”
As someone who likely fits into all three of these categories, I have to say I felt a pinch of nostalgia during Martin’s teary good-bye. You see, Martin and I have a bit of a history. Last year, she drew a great deal of attention to herself by coming out against the Russian invasion of Crimea on her program. I remarked at the time that, far from being some truth-telling heroine, Martin had couched her criticism of Russia’s behavior in morally equivocating language that put equal blame on Moscow and the West for the crisis in Ukraine. Moreover, I wrote, Martin’s 60-second “pseudo-dissidence” served RT’s purposes quite well, as it allowed the network to portray itself as independent from the Kremlin line, with Martin’s speech offering “proof of its vital role as a ‘counter-hegemonic’ news source in a world inundated by corrupt and corporate ‘Anglo-Saxon media.’” When, just two days later, RT anchor Liz Wahl stole Martin’s thunder and the limelight by quitting live on air, and I published the first exclusive interview with her in The Daily Beast, Martin quickly developed an unhealthy obsession with me.
In a segment fit for Battle of the (Russian) Network Stars, Martin revealed how I had led a “group of neocon warmongers” into manipulating Wahl’s resignation as part of our evil plan to reignite the Cold War. But Martin’s obsession paled in comparison to that of her brother, Robbie, an occasional guest on her show (again with the nepotism) and a creator of “IDM,” or “intelligent dance music.” (Here’s an ear-splitting example, a mashup of Obama speeches called “We Killed Kids on a Basketball Court.”) For the past several months, at least, Robbie Martin has been working strenuously on what is apparently a documentary about yours truly. In January, he announced on Twitter that he had spent two whole days “editing every single video clip of Jamie Kirchick available on the entire internet.” I can’t hardly wait.
Never fear, though. Abby Martin isn’t going anywhere. “Until I establish my next venture I’ll be writing daily, podcasting, producing video shorts and doing talks around the world,” she promised her legions of fans. Whether her next act will be produced in the slick studios of another authoritarian regime’s propaganda network or from her parents’ cluttered basement, where this interview with her brother seems to have transpired, is anyone’s guess. I say bully for Martin. Freed from the shackles of employment by the Russians, she can now at least find a job that pays her in dollars rather than constantly depreciating rubles.