Martha’s Case Serves Up New Batch of Lessons
While plenty of Martha bashers are enjoying the idea of the style maven locked behind bars, there are those even among her detractors who can’t fathom how she is suddenly a convicted felon when those people who caused Enron’s downfall are still walking the streets. According to one pundit, they committed REAL crimes. Martha just made some bad judgment calls.
Allan Sloan, a columnist for Newsweek and its parent, the Washington Post, wrote recently that Stewart is really guilty of "stupidity and greed and cluelessness." Calling himself "congenitally unstylish," Sloan cautions that anyone who finds glee in Martha’s downfall, should be worried that what happened to her can easily happen to them.
He called her case "trivia" when compared to the monstrous frauds committed at Enron, WorldCom, Adelphia and Global Crossing, where thousands lost their jobs and their life savings. Stewart personally has lost more than anyone else in her case, and all over about $50,000 that was saved by selling her ImClone shares.
"Stewart's trial wasn't about corporate misbehavior," Sloan writes. "It was about misleading the government, which was investigating her for a crime -- insider trading -- that she was never charged with. If Stewart weren't such a big name, who'd care about this stuff? For heaven's sake, when a cop pulls you over for going 70 in a 55-mile-per-hour zone and you say you didn't know how fast you were going although you damn well did, you're lying to an investigating officer."
Sloan argues that the biggest lesson average citizens should take from the Stewart case is that if government investigators ring your doorbell, keep your mouth shut and call your lawyer.
He said that the judge in her case wisely threw out the charge that she attempted to manipulate the value of her company’s stock since all Stewart did was defend herself. She did not unload shares of her own company, which could have helped the government make its case.
"Today, the government whacks Stewart for daring to defend herself. Tomorrow, my friend, it could be your turn in the barrel," Sloan wrote. "It doesn't bother me to see Stewart smacked around. If she had an ounce of common sense or self-awareness, she'd have known how smelly her ImClone sale looked and canceled it, retroactively, when the government began sniffing around."
Sloan concludes by saying that he refuses join the bandwagon of Stewart bashers. "I would be happy if the government had gotten her for cheating people, or some other real crime. But for this? Give me a break."
Voice of the Editor
Which isn’t completely true. I mean, occasionally I drop by when I manage to sneak out of the nonstop frat party over at Going Concern, but I’m mostly a wallflower over there. I’m happy to say that I’ve been given express permission (or explicit orders, if you like) to wander over here to AccountingWEB more often.
Why is that, you might ask? My job is to replace the irreplaceable Gail Perry as Editor-in-Chief. What does that mean? I don’t really know! I think it’ll be fun getting a feel for things, throwing in my own thoughts here and there, and listening to the discussions you’re having about the accounting profession.