“Ralph Nader of the cornfields”
October 10, 2008 6:58 PM   Subscribe

Meet Andy Martin, aka Anthony R. Martin-Trigona, perennial losing candidate for public office and one of the truly great vexatious litigators.

Martin-Trigona is known in the legal community for his prolific pro se litigation, for his frequently anti-Semitic briefs (I propose a constitutional amendment to seize the property of the Jews, he once wrote in a bankruptcy filing) and for tactics like this:
To illustrate the need to protect the identity of the judges the appeals court cited [original RTF document] what it called an "outrageous action" taken by Mr. Martin to get back at the federal judge whose rulings displeased him. The court said Mr. Martin had sought to intervene in the judge's divorce case and have himself appointed as the guardian for the judge's children. (from a 1993 WSJ article)
Elsewhere, he's better known for his many quixotic campaigns for public office in Connecticut, Illinois, Florida, and New York. Chicago blogger and journalist Steve Rhodes quotes from a 2006 Chicago Sun-Times profile:
Just minutes earlier, the Near North Side resident was relating how he spent most of 2003 scouring holes in Iraq with two dogs - and pinpointed Saddam Hussein’s whereabouts a full two months before U.S. troops.

It was what I would call a typical Andy Martin experience, he said.
Last year The Nation identified Martin-Trigona as the source of the rumors that Barack Obama is a secret Muslim (he's happy to take credit: There's nothing sinister here. I was thinking of running for Senate and was looking for a story to put some sizzle on the plate, he told the Washington Post in June).

And last Sunday, Martin-Trigona appeared in the Fox/Sean Hannity documentary Obama & Friends: The History of Radicalism to speculate on early links between Obama and William Ayers: I think a community organizer, in Barack Obama's case, was somebody that was in training for radical overthrow of the government.

Obama communications director Robert Gibbs responds to Hannity.
posted by enn (13 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
For years, Martin-Trigona ran around continuously suing so many random people on a pro se basis — and when he would lose, he would then sue the lawyers who represented the parties he sued and the judges who ruled against him — that the Second Circuit Court of Appeals actually barred him from commencing any further judicial process without prior authorization, an unprecedented and truly extraordinary order.

Curses! You win this round, my circumcised nemeses!
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:06 PM on October 10, 2008

From the bankruptcy filing you linked to, which is brim-full of awesome:

10. The Jews speak and intrigue among themselves, but refuse to talk with plaintiff, except when they have him in chains Messiah-style.
posted by nicwolff at 7:44 PM on October 10, 2008

Do I ever love the pro se litigants. From opposing counsel's perspective, they're unpredictable, which makes them hard to counter. It's as if a drunken street brawler somehow got to compete in a karate tournament: they might surprise you and give you a decent pounding--because you only know how to fight other karate dudes, right?--but they'll probably just get their ass kicked because they don't know karate.
posted by resurrexit at 7:59 PM on October 10, 2008

(Sidenote: I don't know why folks get so worked up over Fox News; it's just filling a market void. It's like the check-out line magazines at the grocery store talking to you all day. What's not to like? But seriously, what can we expect from Sean Hannity? People want to hear what they want to hear. Why isn't there a left-leaning cable version of Fox News? I see people getting excited about Rachel Maddow--why not just have an entire network with people who think like her and approach their news coverage like her? Generally the cable news channels--and, arguably, the networks--have never had pretensions to journalistic integrity. It's not news; it's news-based entertainment--like a Colbert or Daily Show without the jokes.)
posted by resurrexit at 8:02 PM on October 10, 2008

It is for people like this that barratry laws exist, or should.
posted by Class Goat at 8:37 PM on October 10, 2008

In that last link, Gibbs did a pretty awful job responding to Hannity. He keeps accusing him of being anti-Semitic. Hannity responds that inviting an anti-Semite on his show does not make him anti-Semitic, which is a fair point. Gibbs just keeps repeating it. They keep shouting at each other.

There was a point to be made there, but that wasn't it.
posted by alexei at 10:44 PM on October 10, 2008

Is Metafilter telepathic? I was just thinking about that nasty piece of work a couple of days ago. I'm pretty sure he was locked up in county some years back, in the jail not too far from where I live. I thought he had simply faded away. I had no idea that he had gone on to greater virulence. .... Good lord. Thank you for this post.
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 11:20 PM on October 10, 2008

alexei, hannity didn't just invite an anti-semite on his show like he would any other so-called "controversial" figure he doesn't agree with (like shabazz and sharpton, whom hannity cited). he devoted an entire hour of his fake news magazine show ('sean hannity's america,' as distinct from his talk show, 'hannity and colmes') to examining obama's scary, scary "secret connections" and "history of radicalism" with andy martin and a few others proffering their opinions about how terrible obama is with an absolute dearth of facts. martin was introduced as "author and journalist" and it's abundantly clear that what he was presenting was hannity's twisted viewpoint.

so obviously hannity endorses what andy martin has to say w/r/t barack obama. it is therefore absolutely not a reach to question whether he endorses martin's rabid anti-semitism. it's absolutely fair to question this type of association as a response to hannity's absurdly over-the-top characterizations of ayers as a terrorist and obama as his BFF.

if you knew the backstory at all, you can plainly see that gibbs calmly walloped hannity in that segment, and hannity became more and more unhinged. it's a great object lesson in how to deal with demagogues.
posted by Hat Maui at 11:23 PM on October 10, 2008

Why isn't there a left-leaning cable version of Fox News?

Because Corporate America won't support it by purchasing advertising on it. Corporate America is happy to support Fox News because they know it won't criticize them in any meaningful way. Even if a thing fills some market niche, it doesn't get done in the US unless somebody sees a way to make money.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:03 AM on October 11, 2008

"It's not news; it's news-based entertainment--like a Colbert or Daily Show without the jokes.)"

Tell that to my in-laws who watch this news station just as fervently as they did Walter Cronkite many years ago. You see entertainment; they see the only news outlet not censoring their news. What FOX says is truth to them, and they are not the only ones. That isn't funny, that's scary.
posted by UseyurBrain at 7:20 AM on October 11, 2008

I don't know why folks get so worked up over Fox News

I take heart that about 2.5 million people tune in to O'Reilly, and a bit less than 2 million tune into Hannity and Colmes.

But 10--12 million tune into All Things Considered.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:26 AM on October 11, 2008

Thanks for the post.

Were he alive today, Samuel Johnson would have to say that journalism, not patriotism, is the last refuge of scoundrels. Witness Martin's transformation from vexatious pro se litigant to "journalist and author."

For me, the problem is not just that Americans are willing to believe outright falsehoods. The more insidious problem is that Americans are becoming credulous. Dangerously so. Ready and willing to believe the slanders of a hateful man.

I fear for our future. I really do.

On another point, Hannity is right. He and the rest of Fox NEWS are huge supporters of Israel. So why did his producers invite Martin on then? The enemy of my enemy is my friend? Surely, they could have found some other crank to make the same point.
posted by up in the old hotel at 4:34 PM on October 11, 2008

From the New York Times:

Mr. Hannity’s executive producer, John Finley, said that the program was clearly opinion and that the audience — on average 1.5 million to 2 million — knew to take it as such. “ ‘Hannity’s America’ is an opinion show — it’s a show from Sean’s perspective, which is obviously conservative,” Mr. Finley said.

Speaking of Mr. Martin, he added, “It’s one man’s opinion, one of many that was expressed on the show.”

posted by up in the old hotel at 4:43 PM on October 11, 2008

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