Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Rights & Reason: Hating Martha Stewart

Reuters reports that a federal grand jury has submitted a nine-count inditment of Martha Stewart.

Martha Stewart was charged with securities fraud and obstruction of justice on Wednesday, stemming from her sale of shares of ImClone Systems Inc., a biotechnology company run by a close friend.

The charges, which could carry penalties of up to 10 years in jail, marked a stunning blow to Stewart. A former stockbroker, Stewart built a catering company into a media and design empire and became a household name while courting a celebrity lifestyle.

Stewart, who has said she is innocent of any wrongdoing, was also indicted on charges of making false statements.
One has to wonder if Martha Stewart could ever get a fair shake after the negative portrayal of her rise and commercial success in NBC's recently made for TV movie of her life. Martha Stewart is a cultural icon. As someone who shows us how to make our homes more beautiful, she is easy prey for those who despise what for Martha is an almost natural grace. There is a culture in America today that says it is impossible for someone to honestly achieve business success, and Martha Stewart is no exception. By definition, she has to be wicked. Even if the charges against her prove true, insider trading is one of those nebulous crimes that lacks a victim. Just how does one quarantine information so as not to violate the anti-insider trading provisions of the law? It's simply impossible.

CEO's and other company officials can be barred from unloading stock by contract. But to quarantine information as such--it can't be done. Yet that's not going to stop the anti-Martha attack. And at the end of the day, if Martha Stewart goes down, it will be out of simple envy of her success.

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