Martha's Rise, Fall: What Does It Mean?

JEFFREY TOOBIN: Well, that is a part of Federal law enforcement. One of the things Federal prosecutors do, one of the joys, I guess, if that's the right word, of being a Federal prosecutor is, you have a lot of bad guys out there to choose from. And you pick the ones who are the worst, but you also pick the ones who are going to draw some attention and tell everybody else out there that you can't do insider trading. You can't lie to the FBI. And you pick cases that will draw attention. And no one will draw attention like Martha Stewart will.

TED KOPPEL: Why has it taken a year and a half?

JEFFREY TOOBIN: Because this case is not easy. I mean, remember, this was an insider trading investigation. And one thing you will notice, Martha Stewart was not charged with was insider trading. This is an obstruction of justice case with a very peculiar securities fraud angle where she is accused of lying to the public by saying she was innocent, thereby artificially propping up her stock price. I've never seen a criminal charge like that before. And one that's sure to be challenged. But this is not the crime of the century. This is a -rather modest collection of charges that are very bad for Martha Stewart, but this is not what the investigation began to find.

TED KOPPEL: If you were ...

TINA BROWN: I do think there's something very distasteful about seeing the way that she has very, very slowly been turned and grilled on this spit of publicity. And I do think there is something more that could have been done to accelerate, at any rate, the process or deal with it in some more finite way faster, because this woman has really been tortured in the public eye.

TED KOPPEL: And why could you think that has been? I mean, why would the, why would Federal prosecutors be interested in doing that to her?

TINA BROWN: Well, I fear it's because there is a titillation aspect of drawing attention to the crime, as Jeffrey says. I mean, that you do get to — prosecute a crime that does get maximum attention and does, in a sense, make an example of somebody. I agree that the case is extremely complicated, but it seems to me that this has been an unseemly spectacle. And I don't know what Jeffrey feels about that, whether or not there is anything that could have been done to make this a more, you know, a less distressing spectacle.

TED KOPPEL: As they used to say in the old Hollywood movies, "this just in." Apparently, a story has just moved on the wires saying that she has stepped down as CEO and chairman of her company. So I guess the question becomes, and Tina, I'll put it to you first, can Martha Stewart Enterprises exist without Martha Stewart at the head of the company?

TINA BROWN: This is a very sad day if she has just stepped down, I think. 'Cause this woman really built her company with talent and energy and commitment. I think she's crucial to the success of that company, as a matter of fact. She is enormously gifted. In fact, you could argue that, you know, Martha herself has always been a fairly controversial woman and a rather mixed bag in terms of whether people like her personally. But really, her success has been about the fact that she absolutely knows what she's doing and that her company is brilliantly run. And the products she puts out are actually superbly good. In a sense, they win in spite of her personality.

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