for once, it's not about Martha

Ellis Henican writes in today's New York Newsday:

The Martha Stewart case isn't exactly Enron, where thousands of workers saw their whole life savings vaporized.

Martha isn't WorldCom, where the three-card-monte accounting reached $9 billion high.

She isn't even Arthur Andersen, where 28,000 employees were blithely sacrificed on the altar of executive greed.

Henican observes from the courthouse:
Despite the delicious embarrassment of a prim perfectionist extraordinaire, two things were hard to deny yesterday:

1. If Martha weren't famous, we wouldn't be here.

2. And neither would she.

In spite of the big media fuss, the criminal charges against her are not for insider trading (the evidence was found to be too flimsy), but rather for lying.
Martha's lawyers, Bob Morvillo and John Tigue, kind of had a point when they emphasize the absence of the underlying charge. "It is most ironic," they said in their statement, "that Ms. Stewart faces criminal charges for obstructing an investigation which established her innocence."

Why? they asked.

"Is it for publicity purposes because Martha Stewart is a celebrity? Is it because she is a woman who has successfully competed in a man's business world by virtue of her talent, hard work and demanding standards? Is it because the government would like to be able to define securities fraud as whatever it wants it to be? Or is it because the Department of Justice is attempting to divert the public's attention from its failure to charge the politically connected managers of Enron and WorldCom who may have fleeced the public out of billions of dollars?"

There's a difference, it's been said, between insider traders and the rest of us. The difference is the quality of their tips.

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Published on June 5, 2003 2:33 PM.

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