Last year, "America's Got Talent" contestant Tim Poe went from celebrated military hero to public enemy number-one, when it was revealed that he had lied about being injured in Afghanistan. And now it seems that a similar scandal has unfolded on "American Idol," centering on Matt Farmer, a standout contestant from this week's "Idol" auditions in Long Beach, California.
Matt was the 26-year-old rock 'n' roll dad who was accompanied by his adorable 3-year-old daughter, Cadence, singing Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come." His sob story was that he had been hit by an improvised explosive device (IED), also known as a roadside bomb, while serving in Iraq; that he had sustained a traumatic brain injury as a result; and that the medication he was subsequently prescribed was supposed to render him sterile (thus making Cadence a miracle baby).
But only one day after Matt's audition aired, Guardian Of Valor, a website that seeks to "out people who falsely claim military service and/or claim unauthorized medals or tabs," reported that that Matt's story wasn't quite holding up. The site quoted many soldiers who had allegedly served with Matt and refuted his claims.
For example, one soldier stated: "First Farmer was not sent home from being blown up in an IED explosion. He was sent home because he almost killed himself! He was sent home after they found him in seizures from taking unauthorized acne medication while consuming unauthorized alcohol while in Iraq. The medication with which he was referring to that 'almost made him sterile' was the acne medication! I bring this to your attention because as a retired vet, from the same unit as young Matt, I feel that it is incredibly morally unjust to our fallen brothers!"
At first, Matt responded to these allegations by contacting the Guardian Of Valor site directly, claiming that his interview with "Idol" producers had been edited out of context, and augmented with stock photos and video that he did not provide, to create a misleading but compelling backstory. But when Guardian Of Valor uncovered damning audio of Matt speaking at a church service telling a similar tale about being a sniper in Iraq, Matt sent an updated statement to the site, finally confessing that he had indeed lied on the show.
"Everything you have read is correct. It was ALL lies. I in fact HAVE lied since a younger age and had a problem with it. I am coming out and making a statement (even though I was instructed not to) because I DO want to come clean," Matt said. "I do in fact take FULL responsibility for the actions and words I have said, and know that this will never go away. In NO way was I looking to take from everyone who has served. I started to believe my own lies...The lies end here.
"I want to base the life I have left on nothing but what is real and genuine and in the here and now. I am EXTREMELY remorseful and VERY upset that I allowed myself to take from the hard work of the guys that I was deployed with among others. To think that I would go on a national TV show and get away with continuing a lie so big, and so deeply embedded in my life and brain, is ridiculous...To EVERYONE but more importantly the men I served with, I AM DEEPLY REGRETFUL AND SORRY. My road to figuring out how to make a life built on trust starts now. It starts with getting help. And starts with this message...I at no time was a sniper, was never deployed to Afghanistan, did a single tour in Iraq, and was never at any time hit or wounded by an IED."
Matt confirmed to Guardian Of Valor that he is no longer a part of "American Idol," although it is unclear if he was disqualified for lying or if he was simply eliminated as part of Season 12's regular Hollywood Week process. Fox and "Idol's" production company, FremantleMedia, had no comment.