From Caged Heat to The Apprentice

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Glenn Garvin, a regular presence in Reason's pages, has a good story in the Miami Herald on the release of Martha Stewart, the Mumia Abu-Jamal of the free-market set. Our own Nick Gillespie has a cameo:

"The key was that she wasn't really guilty of anything, and everybody knew that," says Nick Gillespie, editor of the political magazine Reason, which ran a cover story titled Why Martha Stewart Should Go To Heaven, And Why the SEC Should Go To Hell. "Everybody enjoyed her hide being nailed to the wall for being the media creation of herself. But people also recognized quickly that she was innocent of any real wrongdoing."

Robert Thompson of the Center for the Study of Popular Television, whose name now comes pre-printed in reporters' rolodexes, tells Garvin that jail was just the boost that Stewart's career needed:

"Before she went to prison, I think she had just about peaked," Thompson says.

"But now that she's got the whiff of the big house on her—the street cred of someone who's actually done time—she's poised to become one of the great camp celebrities of all time, the ultimate celebrity in the age of irony."

Since Tim has just gone on record predicting that Bill Richardson will be the Democratic nominee in 2008, I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that Martha Stewart, after rejuvenating The Apprentice, will go on to reanimate the Reform Party. And win! Hey—it's what we would've done back in the '90s, man.

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  1. You’ve watched the trial, you’ve read the story, now buy the T-Shirt!

  2. Gillespie’s either misreading the public, or overstating his case. Most people believe Stewart was overcharged and over-sentenced, but they aldo agree that insider stock trading is sleazy.

    Martha, being a bit sharper with the public, is unlikely to defend her behavior as entirely respectable and legal.

  3. “Street cred” – that’s funny. I agree. She’ll probably enter the pantheon of american outlaw heros.

  4. Except that, according to the federal government, Martha never was guilty of insider stock trading.

  5. “Well, now, technically, they never brought thag charge to trial…”

    Yeah, name guy, if there’s anything the public loves more than rich people getting perks of questionable legality, it’s rich people making complicated distinctions about the difference between a conspiracy conviction and a core-crime conviction.

  6. sigh…to rehash, Martha was not a corporate insider according to current interpretations of the law and would never have been convicted on that charge.

  7. “according to current interpretations of the law”

    Is that like “no controlling legal authority?”

    I still say, “I done wrong, but I didn’t deserve this” is a message that will connect with more people than “There’s nothing wrong with throwing your weight around to get extra breaks not available to the rabble.”

  8. I’m not arguing that Martha’s acts met the legal definition of insider trading, just that the technical reasons why they don’t rise to that level don’t exactly win public sympathy.

  9. I don’t think the people that buy Martha’s products and watch her show are really interested in her supposed “street cred.”

  10. I don’t believe that what she did was morally wrong. It certainly wasn’t legally wrong. If she also doesn’t believe that what she did was unethical (regarding the trading), then it would be unethical to bend to the wind of public pressure and say “I’m sorry for doing wrong”. Bending like that would put her on par with that puss from Harvard.

    However, in the end I suspect she will bend because it is good for business.

  11. I don’t think the people that buy Martha’s products and watch her show are really interested in her supposed “street cred.”

    You obviously haven’t seen the episodes of her show where she shows her audience how to make a delightful table centerpiece out of junkyard car parts and spray paint, or the episode where she teaches the proper etiquette for gang-banging, or the one where she shows them how to convert leftover PCP and meth residue into a useful fertilizer for marijuana plants….

  12. “But now that she’s got the whiff of the big house on her”

    Something about that line makes me wrinkle my nose.

  13. I’m not arguing that Martha’s acts met the legal definition of insider trading, just that the technical reasons why they don’t rise to that level don’t exactly win public sympathy.

    Oh, let’s not bicker and argue about “who killed who.”

    The fact of the matter is that she’s rich and privileged, and the public doesn’t care about such niceties as whether she’s “guilty” or “not guilty” of whatever.

    She’s a witch! May we burn her?

  14. Stevo,
    We gotta go through the legal niceties first. Bring me a large scale and a duck.

  15. What Martha did doesn’t come close to insider trading. This is pretty much a textbook case of insider trading.

  16. She’s still a witch.

  17. No, you may not burn her. She’ll be gone before too long, she’s getting up in years and she reallly like horsies, anyway.

  18. “Today we’re going to fashion a handsome and sturdy shiv, and make homemade hard cider out of radiator-fermented apple juice. Stay tuned.”

  19. Turning to more serious matters, isn’t it inexplicable that the Caged Heat series — Caged Heat, Caged Heat 2: Stripped of Freedom and Caged Heat 3000 fizzled out in 1995 after only three entries?

  20. Whether or not one thinks that
    “she wasn’t really guilty of anything” it seems to be quite untrue that “everybody knew”–or “knows”–that.

    http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/nation/11058644.htm

  21. Has Congress finally gotten around to defining “insider trading” by statute? I was still operating under the assumption that IT was what the SEC pointed at when they said “you are `insider trading'”.

    They got Martha for lying to a Fed, right?

    Kevin

  22. Stewart, as a former stockbroker, knew that what she did was prosecutable under the law. Is the law dumb, vague and hard to enforce consistently or anathema to Nick Gillespie’s vision of a truly free, ventilated, underpants-less market? Maybe so. But she made her choice and faced consequences that couldn’t have been a surprise to her.

  23. Stevo Darkly: There has been a sad decline in the quality of chicks-behind-bars movies. Even the obligatory shower scenes aren’t as good as they used to be.

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