SURVEY SAYS: Does Martha Deserve It?

June 12, 2003 ( - Seems like no matter where you turn these days, everyone is talking about Martha Stewart - this week we asked our readers what they thought of Martha's "predicament."

Well, she may have gotten 40,000 e-mails of support, but this week’s respondents weren’t inclined to give Martha Stewart any slack.   In fact, just 1% said she was a “victim of circumstances,” while a mere 16% said she had been “unjustly targeted because of her fame.”

Actually, unjustly targeted because of her gender appeared to be an equally compelling rationale for those respondents.   As one reader noted, “I’d say a) Martha Stewart has been unjustly targeted for her fame except it’s really not because she is famous but because of what she is famous as – a woman who built a hugely successful business — not alone — but based on her own vision.   I don’t think the boys are ready for that.”   That sentiment was echoed by several readers, including the one who said, “(a) unjustly targeted because of her fame and (f) unjustly targeted because she’s a woman.”


Only about 3% of this week’s respondents hadn’t yet formed an opinion (including readers like the one who observed, “…I also believe in “innocent until proven guilty”, so I must say: d) not formed an opinion.” ), while nearly 9% said they just didn’t care – including one reader who noted, “I’m usually not an ‘I don’t care’ type of person, but in this case, I don’t care.”

Several readers were changing their opinions, and gleaning insights even as they responded to the survey, including the one who observed, “I love your e-newsletter, and am always learning something new.   Today is no exception.   Until I read your little ditty on Martha Stewart, I would have answered that she was being “unjustly targeted because of her fame.” This, however, was before I found out (thanks to you) that she was a former stockbroker! (of course, maybe this really means that I need to get out more)    Now I believe she should be held to a higher standard and would vote that she “got caught with her hand in the cookie jar.”

Of course, those who have done the math will realize that, in the opinion of an overwhelming 71% of this week’s respondents, Martha Stewart simply got caught with her hand in the cookie jar.   The reader who added, “I believe she used her stock experience to her advantage and then when she got caught with ‘her hand in the cookie jar,’ she tried to plead total ignorance. Sorry Martha, it’s not flying with me” summed up that sentiment. Or the reader who observed, “It never ceases to amaze me how many people feel the rules are made for ‘the other guy’ and not for them.   An alarming number of people can rationalize that ‘everyone else does it’ so it must be okay.   I believe that Martha was the latest victim.   Her public image as a Susie Homemaker made excellent fodder for the news hounds.   It gave us something to talk about.   It did raise public awareness that sometimes you do get caught.   Good for the regulators.”

Still – and this was a sentiment that crossed response categories – a number of readers would like Martha to have some company on the “perp walk.”   As one noted, “Enron and WorldCom’s collapses each exceeded the GDP of many 3rd World nations and have ruined thousands of retirement plans and the share prices of well-run businesses and the markets in which they traded. ImClone is venal but embryonic in comparison.”

But this week’sEditor’s Choicegoes to the reader who said, “In my opinion she knew the information she was trading with was tainted. This is someone who color coordinates the damn napkin rings on the dinner table with the drapery in the dining room.   She understands details.”

Thanks to everyone who participated in this week’s survey.

I vote (c).   It never ceases to amaze me how many people feel the rules are made for "the other guy" and not for them.   An alarming number of people can rationalize that "everyone else does it" so it must be okay.   I believe that Martha was the latest victim.   Her public image as a Susie Homemaker made excellent fodder for the news hounds.   It gave us something to talk about.   It did raise public awareness that sometimes you do get caught.   Good for the regulators.

c) But also there may be some elements of witch-hunt. I don't think they have gone too far yet.

On the other hand, I KNOW anti-smoking laws are gone too far when at a café that spread into the west side park, the waitress asked a smoking lady to please step outside (she already was), beyond some imaginary wall marked by two planters... now that's too far. Maybe we should look out for similar signs in the Stewart case...

I think A, Martha has been unjustly targeted.   She might have done something wrong, but there's far too much speculation in the government's case, IMHO.   I think someone someplace has a Jones for getting Stewart, and that's why she's getting grilled.   Didn't she only save something like $40,000 by trading when she did?   Seems silly to pursue such criminal charges against her when someone like Ken Lay is probably enjoying a Margarita as we speak.

  1. Got caught.   Used to be a stockbroker...I didn't know.   Now, I'm even more convinced she knew just what she was doing.   It's high time all of the "cheaters" got their due.   The little guys have suffered at the hands of the corporate big dogs long enough.   I hope they all go to prison and the fines start getting large enough to truly hurt their pocketbook.

I think she got caught with her hand in the cookie jar and to some degree her behavior may be more closely scrutinized because of her fame and, more importantly, her attitude. Unfortunately, people tend to take delight in the downfall of those who create an impression that they are better than everyone else.   Getting to the top by stepping on others or inappropriate means- - bad karma!

A.   I wish the powers that be spent their time bringing to justice the bigger fish at Enron, WorldCom and Global Crossing that took over a trillion dollars in market value out of millions of peoples pockets.   While Martha may have profited only $40,000 her investment in her company has cost her over $400 million.   It makes you wonder if those pursuing Martha Stewart simply don't like her decorating ideas. Whether guilty or not, I hope she gets off.

Martha - (c) hand caught in the cookie jar.   A crime is a crime!

Definitely c

(a) Unjustly targeted because of her fame and (f) unjustly targeted because she's a woman.

On Martha... She has been targeted in part because of her fame - but that is not unjust.   Did FDR see this coming and send some advice ahead for Martha for such times when he said, "If you can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen."   

Hand in the cookie jar - YES.   But her goose will be cooked because of the lies that followed.     Add "Lies" to any recipe and it will almost always turn up the heat.    I am thankful that the American court of both personal and public opinion still has a strong distaste for lies.    We all make mistakes in judgment   - none of us are free from that limitation and we shouldn't get too worked up when one of us screws up. However leaders should lead.    What we are seeing unfold is a total absence of humility.   It is a character flaw not to be able to say, "I was wrong, I apologize."     Strong leaders and good individuals can say those words.

Why is it so easy to want to see Martha roasted and respond to an email about her?   Could this be a character flaw of my own?

Personally, I don't think they would have gone after her if she was just some plain old Joe.   After all, they're not even charging her with insider trading.   The only thing they're alleging at this point is lying to a public official.   If the claim is that she sold the stock because her broker told her that Waskal was selling his, it's dubious as to whether that constitutes insider trading.  

Let's be real.   This is another Willie Nelson case.   They pick a high, flying celeb to make a point and put a chilling effect on us mere mortals who may consider doing the same thing (and for me, $40,000 would be a big deal).

I have friends in the catering and florist business in Westport who have been duped by Martha and had their creative ideas simply stolen to feed her magazine and TV show, so I would love to see her brought back down to earth. It would be great retribution for all the "normal" folks who she stepped on without second thought to get to where she is today. But I also believe in "innocent until proven guilty", so I must say: d) not formed an opinion.

I'm usually not a "I don't care" type of person, but in this case, I don't care.

C I think she's guilty and lying, but if she and the broker stick together, maybe she'll get out of it yet.

Got almost caught with her hand in the cookie jar.   I wouldn't be surprised if the authorities couldn't prove it.   Who in the world believes she had a standing order with her broker to sell if the stock were to go below %60, and he didn't take advantage of an automated program to do so??

In response to your survey, I think it's a little bit of both (a) and (c) - pretty certain that she had inside info, but the treatment she's receiving (and the potential punishment she faces) is a bit over the top. And I believe that it is, in part, because she's perceived as the bitchy female CEO (that double-standard rears its ugly head again). I also believe that what goes around comes around and had she behaved a bit more honorably, she would be treated similarly. And finally, I don't really care and am not terribly sure why I'm even responding to this. Better call my therapist....

C - caught with her hand in the cookie jar.   Could not have happened to a nicer person.

She got caught with her hand in the cookie jar and it couldn't have happened to a nicer person.   She got her just!

I would have to vote equally for (c) and (e).   Seems that insider trading violations are en vogue for those who acquire wealth and power.   In any event, I can't see the logic of a $40,000 stock transaction gain that snowballs into a $400 million loss of a lucrative empire.   Individuals that possess this type of notoriety should also bear the responsibility of setting positive examples of their successes, not the opposite.

I haven't followed the case very closely so I don't really know much about the evidence against Martha.   Given the fact that she has been smart enough to build an empire, she was either incredibly stupid doing what she supposedly did or so arrogant that she figured she could get away with it.   I think a lot of people (women, especially) dislike her because she comes off as such a goody-two-shoes, a bit too perfect at everything.    But, she's no worse than Hillary Clinton - who probably did the same thing years ago.   I can't picture Martha Stewart in prison- will they let her paint her cell and put up a creative window treatment, do you think?    My vote, hand in the cookie jar.

I'm responding to the survey question -- Martha got caught with her hand in the cookie jar.   She should have known better; she made a serious error in judgment.

"Hello and good morning.   This week we will be learning how to turn your old bed linens into beautiful curtains for your cell windows and bars."

Martha got caught plain and simple!   She is going to pay out millions, lose millions and got to jail over $200K in stock!   Maybe Martha should've thought this one through just long enough to let her cookies bake!  

She is going to have a hard time to provide she didn't since she use to be a stock broker and should still be familiar with all the rules and regulations regarding insider trading.

Maybe Martha can get time off for good behavior by teaching a home interior class in prison.

C. Hand caught in cookie jar for sure...

'(c) Martha got caught!   I think they are just playing the "poor picked on celebrity" card because that's all she has.   I canceled my subscription to her magazine when this all hit last year and have quit watching her show.   Makes me wonder what else is a lie that she's been telling us - if you plant your garden her way will everything really die?   Now it's "Rebecca's Garden" for me.

C - she got caught with her hand in the cookie jar and should have known better. Her experience as a broker, board member of the SEC and Chairman of a Public Company should render her an expert on this subject.

She not only had her hand in the cookie jar, she got caught with her whole being in the cookie jar.   She cannot claim innocence with respect to the insider trading, attempted manipulation of Martha Stewart Living stock, and acts of obstruction to regulators during their investigations.   Ms. Stewart was a licensed broker and knows the rules. All she had to do was tell the truth.   She deserves whatever the regulators throw at her (maybe more).

If she's as smart and savvy as she wants everyone to believe, she'd have to know that using "insider information" to gain in trading stocks is a no-no.   Her "act" of innocence is just that, an act. I'm not biting. Give me a (c) and Martha an "F" for her acting performance.

Nevin, We're all spending too much time and effort on this.   Let the process sort out the truth and if she's found guilty, let her pay the price.   If she's found innocent, so be it.

And ENOUGH about this already.

c. If Martha Stewart would have acknowledged what she did she would have faced some embarrassment and had to forfeit the $50,000 loss she avoided.   Instead the course of action she took was equivalent to someone being stopped for speeding engaging the police in a high-speed chase.........and those never end well.

I try to avoid paying attention to the situation but I would have to say "c".   I have to believe that this happens way too often by people in the loop or well-connected.   Hopefully, it will serve to keep more from taking advantage of their position.

Although I like to believe the best about people, I have just a "gut" feeling that she is guilty.   I guess it will be up to the Court (and the media) to find the truth.   If she ends up in jail I'm sure she will have the best decorated cell and spice up the menu!


Stupid move by diva caught in cookie jar but blown WAY out of proportion compared to others on Wall Street. If they had another dirty dozen with similar media exposure it might chasten Wall Street - Main Street views it as mixed message. More Waksal's are necessary and don't forget Bernie Ebbers and Enron!

(c) Got caught with her hand in the cookie jar (and deserves what she gets).   She is losing it all over a few thousand dollars of gain on Imclone stock. Greed strikes again.

Without question, Martha has been targeted solely because of her fame.

I vote for (c)-- she got caught with both hands in the cookie jar.

C.   Got caught with her hand in the cookie jar.

I think her fame has more to do with all of the publicity this case is getting but not the reason for the case against her.

Many insider trading scandals for $40k we might never have heard of.

a) With the sensationalism surrounding today's news, it is no wonder that the media attention has focused in on Martha Stewart.   While I do not condone Martha's or her stock broker's actions (that why we have rules), I think the majority of the people who focus on the sensationalism forget what founding principal this country's legal system was based - innocent until proven guilty.

Although, everyone has to "love to hate" someone and I think that someone du jour is Martha Stewart.   You'd better watch out because tomorrow it could be you.

I vote for the cookies

I would have to go with C and E. She knew what she was doing. She knew it was wrong and she did it anyway. However, Martha Stewart is not important to me and neither is her current situation. I never liked her and I still don't. She should go to jail for just being a mean person.

My reaction is "c" followed by "e".   I never was a Martha fan and the less I hear about her the better.   If she had only said at the beginning, "Yes, you're right.   I shouldn't have done that", paid back the money plus any fines, she would have been so much better off.   The loss in the value of her stock plus her legal bills since December are a lot more than any profits she would have lost.

Martha was a former stock broker and used her experience to make millions taking her company public. She is an educated person and a very informed investor. She is guilty of insider profiteering and especially guilty for the cover-up.

C - definitely.   If she could have put her ego aside and simply admitted to trying to pull a fast one to save a couple of bucks at the get-go, she could have walked away slightly bruised, but not ruined.   The "savings" were a drop in the bucket for her.

I would go with D & E.   "D" because she's innocent until proven guilty, and "E" because she'll get what she deserves.

Interestingly, it was just reported today that she had sold $45M of stock in her company in anticipation of the investigation of her sales of ImClone.   In response to your survey, I don't really care one way or the other.   I fail to see how this investigation/indictment protects the customer - except for those who are foolish enough to invest in a company based on folding dinner napkins correctly!

Are you kidding?   Martha is greedy and believes the rich just get richer.   She believes she did nothing wrong in her own warped little brain, but in fact she is guilty as charged and then some.   Rot in jail baby.... it's not a good thing.

Now, lets get them damn Enron crooks!

(c).   I have not read the indictment.   Based on the news reports she has not been charged with insider trading.   Although I do believe she's guilty of stupid trading, that's not against the law.   On the other hand, apparently the charges are lying to the government about what really happened.   That's also stupid and illegal.   If Martha did that, then she deserves an appropriate punishment.  

Now, technically, I would say that although I have answered "(c)," the cookie jar thing, that would be a more appropriate, though not perfect, analogy to an insider trading charge.   Rather, the charge is the she was lying.   I've heard (second hand) that the Wall Street Journal said that this should not be a problem because if she was lying, she was only lying about conduct that was otherwise legal.   That's bogus.   If the conduct wasn't illegal, she should not have lied.   Beyond that, the only way we can determine whether in fact conduct is legal or not is to bring out the facts, the truth, and then take a look at it.   Thus, getting at the truth is independently significant.   That's why witnesses who give false testimony can be convicted of perjury.  

One more comment.   Has Martha been unjustly targeted because of her fame?   Her fame likely has something to do with how the situation has evolved, but that's life.   Martha has chosen her path in life and has got to live with all of the consequences.   If the government did not go after her, they'd be criticized for going easy because she was a celebrity.   On the other hand, it makes good sense to use government resources to prosecute people whose convictions will be well publicized.   Of course, the prosecutors are not going to charge anyone, celebrity or otherwise, they do not believe is guilty and do not think they can convict.   (Sure, they make mistakes.)

(c).   Her transgressions pale in comparison to the $%?$ weasels at Enron et al.   So do Waksal's as a matter of fact.   If there is justice and fairness, the Enron, et al, boys should be punished 10x as severely as Martha and Sammy.

(c) Got caught with her hand in the vintage collectible cookie jar (that she got at a tag sale for a steal) while grabbing for one of her fabulous chocolate cookies and profits from insider trading.   It's a good thing.

Answer B) Martha got caught with her hand in the cookie jar (then tried to use her home decorator skills to cover it up - I reckon that what it takes in planning and actions to decorate your x-mas tree doesn't translate well into covering up your financial sins)

Martha- (c) got caught with her hand in the cookie jar I can't wait too see if she is going to go to prison.   Next thing you know prisoners will be living lavishly and eating gourmet meals.   Thanks to

Martha!   By the way, I hope they put her away for awhile.

My answer would be a combination of "a" and "c."   It sure looks like she was doing something that was at least on the edge and probably over the line and she got caught.   On top of that she wasn't exactly forthcoming after she was caught.

On the other hand, looking at the dollar amounts that seem to be on the small side in the overall scheme of things, I've got to think that if the case involved a guy named Stewart Martin the Feds wouldn't have bothered.

So I'd say she's been targeted because of her fame but not unjustly.

All of the above.   Life is a complex stew in which no man is an island.   The powerful regardless of stature or intelligence believe that the rules don't pertain to them.   Power corrupts.   Absolute power corrupts absolutely.   Turn up the heat. Baste Martha in her cesspool of greed.  

Lets have a choice (f) as in failing the course. "Martha, Martha, what greed has wrought". It is irrefutable what power and money causes otherwise intelligent people to do.

C. Hand in cookie jar, for sure...   (greedy greedy greedy)

I love your e-newsletter, and am always learning something new.   Today is no exception.   Until I read your little ditty on Martha Stewart, I would have answered that she was being "unjustly targeted because of her fame." This, however, was before I found out (thanks to you) that she was a former stockbroker! (Of course, maybe this really means that I need to get out more)    Now I believe she should be held to a higher standard and would vote that she "got caught with her hand in the cookie jar."

As an attorney, I am often held to a higher standard than the average lay person.   I cannot plead ignorance of the law even if it is out of my area of expertise.   As a former stockbroker, Martha had more knowledge than the average investor and a duty to avoid even "the appearance of impropriety" in her transactions.   Therefore, my answer is "c". I believe she used her stock experience to her advantage and then when she got caught with "her hand in the cookie jar" she tried to plead total ignorance. Sorry Martha, it's not flying with me.

Martha has most definitely gotten caught with her hand in the cookie jar.   She's hiding behind her domestic diva facade to create the perception as the perfect homemaker who isn't aware of the complex ways of the financial world, but let's not forget that she's the one who built a billion dollar franchise around herself as the centerpiece.   She also had to pass all the SEC exams to become a broker, so how could she have possibly not known that trading on insider information is a criminal act?   She should use the Steve Martin line of defense..."I forgot!...I simply forgot insider trading was a crime!"   And about Hillary Clinton....

I believe Martha Stewart has been targeted because she is female. I know that statement can be considered sexist itself, but I cant get over the fact that much worse offenders have still not been charged in recent scandals! She must have really made someone mad at her.

I think Martha got caught with her hand in the cookie jar.   However, I do think she was led astray by the others who are involved.   The one issue that concerns me though is that all the other people and corporations that have been "attacked" by the SEC have gotten off by simply paying a fine - a fine that amounted to peanuts versus the gains actually made.   So why is Martha being dragged into court and threatened with jail time?

Definitely C - Her hand was in the cookie jar up to her neck!   For someone who plans parties down to the last detail (including the what if's) she doesn't seem to have had a contingency plan for this one! (Wonder if they'll find cookie stain on her beige Dockers, mmmmmmm?!)


I don't think Martha was targeted as the result of her fame, and if she's the "victim" of anything she's the victim of the circumstances she created by potentially having been caught with her hand in the proverbial cookie jar.   (Remember, we are all innocent until proven guilty!)

I learned long ago that for every person who has been caught doing something illegal, there's sure to be 100 or more who have gotten away with the same crime.   Maybe the Feds were actively trying to pin something on her as a "political favor" to someone or some group; but even that was true it still wouldn't change the fact she may have broken the law with respect to trading securities.   Still, I wonder how many millionaire/billionaire men get away with this crime on a regular and ongoing basis?!  

One last note:   I realize lying to investigators is considered "obstruction of justice" because the police act as the enforcer of the laws created by "the people"; but, what about Washington politicians who make a living from lying to "the people"?   Who can count the myriad broken campaign promises!?   Even though I know I'm comparing illegal activities to unethical, yet legal actions, I believe the comparison is still "apples to apples"!   A betrayal is more criminal to me than someone trying to cover their tracks to avoid detection.  

Federal laws regulating securities transactions are Draconian, and for good reason.   (The economy must be protected at all costs...said with a note of sarcasm...never mind our children, the poor, the homeless, the sick, the persecuted...they'll be fine.)   Yet, people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones...our politicians in Washington would do well to remember this when someone else's head is on the chopping block, and they find themselves in the cheering section!

Thanks for the forum, and for listening!

Don't care what happens to Martha Stewart.   She's so famous, nothing big will happen to her anyway.   She'll get slapped with a million dollar fine (which she'll pay by just opening her purse and handing it to the judge because she's so rich anyway and probably carries that much around with her), she'll get community service (which means she probably won't do anything because her lawyers will argue that her TV shows ARE already a service to the community and the judge will agree because his wife likes to watch them), and she'll get a slap on the wrist (which she'll probably already have a remedy for to ease the pain that she'll patent and will make millions on).

Guilty.   She knew what was going on and choose a path that was over the moral line but close and leaning over the legal line.   I doubt she intentionally tried to deceive but knew the regulations and crafted a path that was legally acceptable but morally questionable.   In my view, she did not do "the right thing" but followed a path that would allow her to get through a legal test of her behavior that was financially beneficial to her.   I believe this makes her guilty and should pay fines but not prison time.

She certainly knows better and deserves a slap since the ImClone scandal did help deepen the crisis of corporate malfeasance.

But the punishment that she might get and Waksal will get has more to do with the fact that the SEC has an impossible mission - to police everyone in an enormous financial universe. They are so underfunded for this that the only way they can maintain any enforcement credibility is through harsh punishment of those birds they can easily get in their hand in hopes that this will create some measure of deterrence among those less conscionable and less visible out there in the bush.

Enron and WorldCom's collapses each exceeded the GDP of many 3rd World nations and have ruined thousands of retirement plans and the share prices of well-run businesses and the markets in which they traded. ImClone is venal but embryonic in comparison.

Martha should have known better...clearly she got caught with her hand in the cookie jar.... but thought she was above detection or prosecution. Sympathetic character or not (I happen to be in the camp that finds her anything but sympathetic), it is amazing how we get reminded of how power can corrupt.... Martha has reaped what she has sown...a just comeuppance

Having spent many years in the financial services business watching others get wealthy on the information shared during meeting lulls and after work drinks, I have a healthy skepticism about anyone's ability to amass great wealth without having trading in "insider" information.   Having said that, it doesn't mean I think it's right.   Yet, as a knowledgeable business person, Stewart has allegedly done no more than many other "in-the-know" investors; I feel she is being singled out because she is an attractive, aggressive woman.   She's been vilified in the media; I'm sure not in a position to know what she is really like.

Some of her alleged negative attributes (tough, ruthless et al) would be touted as accolades were they ascribed to a male CEO.   Do I think she may have done something morally and/or legally improper/wrong?   Sure. Do I think she deserves a substantial monetary fine and present time?

Not unless they intend to round up all the boys in the boardrooms who've acted similarly.   She's in the hairs of the trigger because she is who she is --- and not because she is more deserving of punishment than the others who've acted on similar tips.

Response to survey: (f) never liked her patronizing lifestyle anyway and as I read she is a former stockbroker, she definitely got caught with her hand in the cookie jar.

A is my answer.   For a person who's personal wealth approached or exceeded $1 billion, doesn't selling $200+K worth of stock feel like trading in $25?

Considering everything, I think she is a famous person, a woman and a good one to get because of the publicity generated. I don't think she is the only insider trader, considering only 4000 shares were traded...why didn't the WorldCom, Enron CEOs go to jail?   My guess is it is easier to make a case that "Martha lied and that is why she is going to jail." than sort out the complex cast of characters inside corporate mega-dramas and they get more "bang for the buck" by arresting Martha that they are doing their job.

  Anyway, my answer is a,b,c- all of the above.   It is interesting that with her vast empire she would risk all for such a comparatively insignificant amount of money. My guess is that she struggled in childhood and can't bear to see any money go down the tubes, frugality is something they never heard of at Enron et al.

A powerful, self-made woman - you could also make a case that someone wants to punish her for being a bi----, of course she is!   So what? Who cares? I am not a fan and hate domestic engineering but everyone likes to see a successful woman suffer! They loved it at the water cooler when her husband divorced the "domestic goddess".   Jack Welch and all the men similarly situated building empires are not easy going types either.   They are perfectionists that punish. While most feel it's not worth the cost, stress and labels, that's what these type of people do and this is how they act.

On a minute scale, when I got divorced & went through some published high drama times, many people I knew were actually disappointed that I didn't have to sell my house (downsize) and had an easy time finding employment as a middle aged woman closer to my home when my ex lost it all and didn't pay child support & had to be closer to my kid's school. I did it alone and bought a new car! I actually lost friends they were so disappointed that the story didn't end the way it was supposed to end. I can only imagine the glee felt by many seeing this happen to Martha. This is how the drama is supposed to end, she couldn't have a happy ending because she was "not a nice girl" even though I was! Obviously in a sharing mood that strikes occasionally, I think I sorted out my thoughts! Thanks for letting me do so.

I choose option d).   I am opposed to any illegal trading and those who break the laws of our land...but can't deny I enjoy the Martha Stewart television series, magazines and many of the Martha Stewart products.   She may not be the person that she "appears" to be.not unlike many of us. But her presentation is appealing and interesting.   "Perception" is important.    It is always sad to know that what appears to be wholesome and honest really is dishonest and false.

How could you not think that she knew what she was doing? It was her previous business, she still has old cronies who worked with/for her, she changed her emails, she probably has a ticket tape machine in her bathroom for G*ds sake, along with her telephone. Lets not be naive.

Money begets money because of insider information no matter what the business.

c) - She has to pay the piper because she lied and that was obstruction of truth.

Definitely (c).  

c) Got caught with her hand in the cookie jar

  She knew it was wrong, but didn't think it was that big of deal.   Don't worry though-- since perjury is ok now she should be fine.

Is there any question that Martha Stewart is guilty?   The question is, why did she do it?    The dollar amount involved is so miniscule for her that it wasn't a matter of trying to save a few bucks.   Instead, it seems more likely that she thought the same thing (the amount is so miniscule) and that she then could get away with it.   It may even be possible she has been involved in this sort of transaction before, but no one noticed.

I believe people are generally honest or dishonest.   This event for Martha brings out her nature.   As much as most people want to ignore it, treat it as a one-time event, or simply deny it ever happened, the truth is that something is wrong, terribly wrong.   She should own up to her mistake and get on with life.

Mike Millken went to jail (briefly) and paid an enormous fine ($1Billion), but he made $3 Billion.   Would anyone not say it wasn't worth it (financially)?   I think Martha sees the same thing.   Deny, deny, deny to the end - no matter what.

Until the penalties are greater than the crime, this activity will continue forever.

I'd say a} Martha Stewart has been unjustly targeted for her fame except it's really not because she is famous but because of what she is famous as - a woman who built a hugely successful business -- not alone -- but based on her own vision.   I don't think the boys are ready for that.

C) Got caught w/her hand in the cookie jar because she thinks her image is untarnishable...well it's definitely tarnished now!!!

Definitely C)

In my opinion she knew the information she was trading with was tainted. This is someone who color coordinates the damn napkin rings on the dinner table with the drapery in the dining room.   She understands details.

The answer is (C) she is one of many. She just got caught!!

Martha Stewart is certainly lying but I feel she has been targeted because she is high profile and this doesn't seem right.   Besides, there are plenty of clueless stockbrokers who wouldn't know what insider trading is anyway.   She was probably one of them.

I think she got "caught with her hand in the cookie jar". If examples aren't made of those who are in the public eye, then nobody really gets the message that what she did is wrong and just not fair.   Because of her status, she was able to take advantage of a situation that ordinary people could not.   Although I think that while it may be somewhat unfair that this is made to be a REALLY big deal because of her status (which may or not be fair to Ms. Stewart), people already in the public eye are already under a microscope no matter what they do.

I think Martha (c) got caught with her hand in the cookie jar.

Not that I'm bitter towards the woman, but she has helped fuel guilt in working women around the world by promoting an unrealistic "perfect" home atmosphere.   Interesting that the Queen of Perfect Appearances be forced to come to grips with the fact that you cannot judge a book by its cover.

My answer re: Martha Stewart is a RESOUNDING: C-Caught with her hand in the cookie jar!   As a former stock broker...she knew the rules and thought she wouldn't get caught!!!   She's not a stupid woman and she took a chance.... she lost!

I'm very interested to see the responses from your other readers!!!

Martha got caught with her hand in the cookie jar.   She is arrogant and believes she is above the law.

Martha has (a) been unjustly targeted because of her fame and   (c) got caught with her hand in the cookie jar. I hear that the case against her will be difficult to prove, but the gov isn't going to let her escape without charging her with some violation.

My response is C.   Martha gives good Polish girls (my people have been abused for too long) a bad name.   She should pay a large fine and do community service (free lessons in Polish cooking?). After all she took advantage of the system, which individual investors cannot use, to make money.  

However, her fine should not be nearly as harsh as the penalty for former heads of Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, etc.   They all should be publicly executed to teach a good lesson of corporate governance to executives. After all, human nature proves these power seekers will try to pull a Steve Miller "go on, take the money and run, ou, ou, ou". Stealing from individual shareholders, employees, and retirement systems is no different than stealing a horse in the 1870's Old West. Hang'm High!

May be too late.... but, Martha got caught with her hand in the cookie jar.... as a previously licensed stock broker, she knows that receiving telephone calls about inside information is not illegal.... receiving inside information is common in this business...its what she & her broker did with the information that is illegal (trying to stop short term losses) and than trying to hide her actions behind a silly excuse that can not be substantiated.... It is required of stock brokers to place electronic stop loss orders into our trading systems when a client places such an order....

not when its convent when the authorities are asking questions.

If Martha was a common person without securities experience and knowledge this case may not be so important.... but the fact that she is experienced and also had a seat on the NYSE gives her no cover for her actions.... We need more high profile convictions if we are ever to expect the average American to have any level of confidence in our economic system...Too bad she's not friends with Bush like Ken Lay (Enron).... Can anyone explain to me why this man isn't sitting in jail...Martha's greed did her in.... and her arrogance will convict her?

Answer:   a; I think a lot of people feel like very inadequate business persons in comparison with M. Stewart. So, if you can't beat 'em, tear 'em down.

I realize I am later than your deadline..but.

What did she do that was any different than Hillary?

And really haven't they spent enough federal dollars dragging this out, if they feel she did wrong, fine her and go on with it without spending more money trying to make news stories!

If I lied to regulators in the securities industry I would be fined, have my relationships with the securities industry jeopardized and if
the lie were severe as to its consequences or what it was concealing, I might be thrown in jail.  Why should she get any other treatment than I get?  She should be slapped on the wrist because she is (1) a woman, (2) wealthy, (3) a good cook or a (4) a media mogul.  Exactly, why should she be entitled to a different set of rules than the rest of us?  Sorry Martha - its brioche in the slammer for you.