The Media Persecution of Martha Stewart
the media and the public
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Or is it a woman who built a business empire out of sharing her favorite hobby with millions of people, and one who MAY or MAY NOT have done something wrong in selling some stock in a company to save herself from losing $41,000?
Of course, the answer is the latter, according to the American media at least. We, the Undersigned, would not have supported Martha Stewart if the media had not viciously torn her apart, whether it was through television movies, tabloid covers, editorials or late-night TV jokes.
She was a woman who simply wanted to share her decorating talents with the world, or whoever cared at least. So she published a coffee table book. And then a magazine. And then a television show. No one HAD to buy, read, or watch any of her stuff it if they weren't interested in what she had to say, but they could, and many did. They WANTED to learn how Martha plans her dinner parties, how she creates her perfect desserts. And yet, people were annoyed by Martha, because she was a woman who had a magazine and a television show on something they considered stupid or trivial. They obviously didn't realize that it wasn't that hard to not buy the magazine or not watch the television show, and that Martha only intended her material to reach people who CARED.
So people were already annoyed at her from the beginning. Then, by the media, she was deemed "Miss Perfect". And when Miss Perfect became involved in a trading scandal, she instantly became a SCAPEGOAT for corporate villains. Suddenly she was everywhere, on every other newspaper headline and on every other magazine cover. And the public got annoyed with Martha even more, like it was HER fault that she was suddenly made into a scapegoat. Martha Stewart never wanted to be EVERYWHERE, like she said, she only wanted to share her living tips with anyone that wanted the information.
But Martha was made into a corporate villain, while true villains such as Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling, who cost thousands of people not only their jobs, but also their live savings and retirement funds, walk free. At most, they sold a couple of apartments, but their suburban mansions have been left intact. And the public opinions of these two scoundrels? Most people have forgotten about them, or simply do not care. Type "Kenneth Lay" or "Jeffrey Skilling" into the search box in Google News, and you'll find less than a hundred results each. Type in "Martha Stewart" and you'll find over 2,700.
Now, by no means is Ms. Stewart PERFECT. Not at all. But even if, and this is a big if, she did get insider information on , the public backlash still wouldn't be justified. She is one of New York City's top five most hated people according to a recent survey, and Osama Bin Laden wasn't even on the list!
Any civilized society has always been based on the ideal, the punishment should fit the crime. So Martha sold her stock based on information that SOMEONE else gave her, not information that she went out of her way to receive. She didn't play fair. Fine. And Martha "covered" it up to protect her reputation. Okay, this would be pretty bad if it were true, I admit, but then again it is only human nature to try and salvage your public reputation, especially if you were someone EVERYONE knew about, and not that many people liked to begin with. Still, these were foolish things to do.
But does that make her that much worse than Bin Laden? Planning the murders of 3,000 people is NOTHING compared to what MARTHA did. Sure, Enron executives might have promised their workers a secure future while hiding the fact that their company was in trouble, and then shredding internal memos to cover their tracks, but MARTHA got insider information that told her to sell her stock! She's the one that should be locked up and publicly persecuted.
And the thing is, there is no good evidence that Martha is guilty of anything. I know, I know, "innocent until proven guilty" means nothing anymore in America, but this is going a little too far. Note, that on June 4, 2003, the day she was charged, the government didn't even charge her with insider trading! The government charged her with fraud, but didn't even mention INSIDER TRADING in the indictment.
Too late. Martha Stewart has already been CONVICTED of insider trading in the public eye.
Now all we ask from this petition is that you (the public and the media) treat her fairly. Ask yourself, if Martha Stewart was Joel Sanders, CEO of Joel Sanders Incorporated, a man no ones really heard of until he found himself in the exact same position Marthas in (suspected insider trading, saved himself $41,000), would he have become the top five most hated people in New York? Would he have some of the ? Sure, he probably wouldnt have been portrayed as a saint by the media, but he wouldnt have suffered an onslaught of public backlash.
Martha sold towels. Martha wrote books. Martha published magazines. Martha worked hard. Like ANY OTHER CEO, she might have squashed some of the little people on the way up. But Martha became one of the few women CEOs, and one of the few American billionaires. Somehow, this all made her incredibly annoying. The concept of a powerful woman is annoying to the public, especially one who made her wealth off of towels and magazines about how to color-coordinate your towels. Add a trading scandal, and she became publicly hated. Add a questionable television movie that portrayed her as an explosive, temperamental monster, and Marthas a wicked beast. Martha, Inc. was not a documentary about Martha Stewart, and yet many viewers accepted most of what the movie showed as complete truth. Maybe it did portray the true Martha, but there is also a large chance it didnt, that many scenes were exaggerated, overstated, or even made up by the author of the book.
The next time you hear a mean-spirited Jay Leno joke about Marthas insider trading, the one she wasnt even charged with, and the audience explodes into laughter, applause and cheers, laugh. But dont take it too seriously. Because your laughter is at the possibly undeserved expense of another human being, one who has shown none of the wickedness of Osama bin Laden, Kenneth Lay, or even Robert Blake.