Published January 31, 2013
Last year “America’s Got Talent” contender Timothy Poe caused a storm of controversy when it was revealed his tale of being injured by a grenade while serving in Afghanistan was a lie. Now an "American Idol" contestant is being accused by fellow soldiers of embellishing on his service, but the former U.S. Army member is placing the blame on the way the show edited his interview.
“American Idol” hopeful Matthew Farmer appeared on Wednesday night’s show during the audition round. Before performing, Farmer told a story to host Ryan Seacrest of being on a mission in Ramadi, Iraq when he and his fellow U.S. serviceman came across an IED which exploded. He said on the show that the only thing he remembered was waking up in the hospital after the explosion. Farmer went on to claim that he was diagnosed with a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury).
But now the website Guardian of Valor -- which seeks to “out people who falsely claim military service and/or claim unauthorized medals or tabs” -- claims Farmer’s version of events isn't backed up by his brothers in combat. Many -- some anonymously -- wrote into the website saying Farmer was drinking and taking unprescribed acne medications which led him to have a seizure and be removed from the Area of Operation.
“I was a sniper section leader attached to his company and lived in the same room with him until he was medevaced from Ramadi because he got drunk while he was taking Accutane,” his alleged former roommate told the website. “He was never involved in one single direct fire engagement, was never wounded, and made up this whole lie to try and make his story sound good to ‘American Idol.’”
Another soldier, Sgt. David Johnson, who said he served with Farmer, claimed his former colleague was “a fraud.”
“His actions endangered the rest of his platoon and company and forced the rest of the company to be searched in what is called a ‘health and welfare’ for illegal substances," Johnson said.
And the statements don’t stop there.
Another said he was taken home after having seizures from "unauthorized" medicine use, another said the “Idol” contestant “never saw combat, never got blown up, never got a TBI,” and a team leader of the United States Army Infantryman, John F. McManus, said Farmer’s televised story was “a bold-faced lie,” and that he has “used the blood, sweat, and tears or real, hard-working, tough, brave and honorable Infantry soldiers to paint himself as someone he was most certainly not.”
Farmer, via Guardian of Valor, responded to the allegations, and passed some blame to the producers at "American Idol" for "chopping" up his sound bites when they edited his TV profile.
"I wanted to contact you directly and let you know that 'American Idol' took certain things I said out of context. Three pictures that were shown were not ones provided by myself but stock photos THEY used," Farmer reportedly wrote. "I at NO time gained any monetary values about my story that was used on 'American Idol' and want it to also be known that I am no longer a part of the show." (The "Idol" judges loved his performance and had sent Farmer on to the next round.)
Farmer went on to confirm that he did indeed "overdose on pills," and after being medivac'd out and later sent to Germany, where he said he was told that he had "PTSD and anxiety disorder." He also vehemently denied that he was "kicked out" of Iraq or the Army.
With regards to "Idol," Farmer insisted that he had asked the show to not talk about anything but he and his young daughter, who appeared with him in the audition, and wanted no “claim to fame” for anything related to his military career.
He noted that a "portion" of the statements published on the website were "correct," but when pressed by Guardian of Valor to address his IED explosion claims, he responded: "I'm FIRM in the fact that I know I had talked about it over 6 hours of interviews that I discussed certain missions and stuff that we did on a day to day basis. Then I mentioned to a producer in an interview that I had an accident while in country and remember 'waking up in Kuwait.' This is where this was all pieced together. I am sure you have watched the clip and can realize that it is chopped up."
The founder of Guardian of Valor, a serviceman who wishes to remain anonymous, says stories like Farmer's are “disappointing to the whole war fighter community.”
“A lot of us have lost friends, brothers, sisters, moms and dads to the IEDs in both Iraq and Afghanistan. For someone who was never hit by one of these devices, to claim to have been, tarnishes the memories of those who have been killed by them," the site founder told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column. “It is a disgrace to our military when it is used for publicity to help someone gain popularity with the judges of 'American Idol,' or the American people in general.”
Farmer and Fremantle Media, the production company behind "American Idol," did not respond to a request for comment, and FOX declined to comment for this story.