America’s Got Talent only aired one episode this week, giving us half the auditions and (inadvertently) more time to focus on the real AGT news of the week: the Tim Poe controversy. For those of you who haven’t caught up with the many stories that have circulated about this stuttering country crooner from last week, here’s a rundown of Poe’s whirlwind week.

June 4: Tim Poe’s audition airs
The crowd and judges are moved by Poe’s “If Tomorrow Never Comes” performance and his story of a crippling grenade injury during his time serving in Afghanistan (Poe stutters in his interviews, but sings flawlessly).

June 6: The rumors begin
Numerous sources break the news that Sgt. Timothy Poe may have lied about several aspects of his story, including how long he served in the military, where he served and, most importantly, whether he was actually injured in combat. According to sources (including E! Online), Poe served in the Minnesota National Guard from December 2002 to May 2011 as a supply specialist, serving in Afghanistan for a month in 2009. A statement from the Minnesota National Guard stated, “Sgt. Poe’s official military records do not indicate that he was injured by a grenade in combat while serving in Afghanistan in 2009.”

Echoing this sentiment, Defenders of Freedom (an organization that gives financial assistance to injured soldiers) founder Donna Cranston reveals, “Tim served honorably while he was in [the military]. However, he was injured in training, not in combat… Defenders of Freedom is saddened by his false claims of service and sacrifice and have dissociated ourselves with him.”

In a You Served podcast (Poe’s first response to the media allegations), Poe defends himself, reiterating that he had been injured in Afghanistan, although the head injury caused him to forget many of the details of the event (“I had a blast go off by my head and it caused me to forget things”). Poe also says he’s requested to have his military record corrected with the details of his injury, but that he has gotten no response. “Until you see the documents, don’t judge me,” he says.

It is also discovered that Poe was the lead singer of a Minnesota band called Crawl Space, though he told the AGT judges, “I didn’t know I could sing until my speech pathologist said it would help my stutter.” 

June 8: Poe apologizes and AGT judges chime in
Poe continues to defend himself to the public, although his conviction seems to waver: “It may not have happened exactly like I said it did,” he tells the New York Post. He also addresses his false comments about not singing prior to his alleged injury by saying, “I do not know how to explain why I answered about never singing before” (according to E! Online). “At the time of AGT, when the judges asked, before I could even think about answering, my words had already came out.”

New York Daily News also exposed Poe’s misleading photo he gave to AGT producers of himself; according to the source, Poe admitted “it was not really him in the picture.”

Cranston also took her comments a step further by calling Poe “a liar.” She also gave WFAA a copy of a phone interview she had with Poe in November 2011 in which Poe did not stutter.

At this point Poe goes on record apologizing. He tells the American people, “how truly sorry I am that they had to endure the incomplete facts. I understand how they feel” (according to E! Online). To Donna Cranston, Poe says, “I am so very sorry” in a tearful interview with WPAA. Though Poe says, “I truly thought these things have happened to me,” he admits to feeling like he’s going “crazy” and has sought help at the VA hospital.

AGT judges Howard Stern and Howie Mandel had their own harsh words on the matter:
“You could be the most f—ed up liar on the planet, but you never lie about your military service,” Stern said on his SiriusXM satellite radio show. “This lie is so wrong on so many levels…This really sickens me.”

Mandel was similarly disgusted, saying, “Last week he was publicly praised and honored. Now he is publicly humiliated and he deserves to be publicly humiliated” (according to Zap2it). But, anger aside, Mandel still felt AGT was about talent and not about background: “We should not be judging at all on a back story. Whatever the judges do will be based on the talent and whatever he does in Vegas.”

June 11: Poe’s uncertain future on AGT
Like Mandel, Stern still feels Poe should get a shot on AGT in Vegas. “I do hope that [AGT] doesn’t boot him off,” Stern said, according to Examiner. “To me… I always kind of resented American Idol when they would pull someone out because of a drug scandal or an arrest,” Stern continued. “Let the audience decide on talent.”

There has still been no official word on how NBC will proceed with Poe’s involvement, although there are reports that his Vegas segment is being edited before airing. Stern, meanwhile, is trying to set up a live interview with Poe on his show.

What do you all think of the controversy? Should Poe be allowed to continue on the show, regardless of the veracity of his back story?

(Image courtesy of NBC)

Jenn Lee

Staff Writer, BuddyTV

Jenn grew up in Ohio before moving to Seoul, Korea, where she attended international school and failed to learn Korean. From there she went on to earn a BA in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania before settling in Seattle, where she now spends too much time pondering the power of narrative in TV shows and novels. While she loves a good smart comedy (a la Community or Parks and Recreation), her favorite current show is Breaking Bad; all-time mentions include Arrested DevelopmentLost and Friends. When she’s not consuming television or literature, she’s savoring pastries and searching for the city’s ultimate sandwich.