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

TED KOPPEL: That's, well, let me put the same question to you, then, Naomi Wolf. Can the corporation continue to exist, I mean, frankly, my towels aren't going to be any different. The linens aren't going to be any different. Whatever the accoutrements are that she sells, the magazine isn't gonna be any different. The television show, obviously, can't get along very well without her, but why can't the rest of the enterprise?

NAOMI WOLF: Yeah, I think it's perfectly sound. But I think what's even more interesting is, as Tina said, the kind of, almost witch hunt-like quality of making her pay so visibly. I kept thinking, do we know the names of the guys at the head of the Enron scandal, you know, a few months after the scandal?

TED KOPPEL: No, but we didn't, we didn't know their names before, either. I mean, the fact of the matter is, you don't make someone famous overnight. She was famous before she became a target.

NAOMI WOLF: Right. But I do think Tina touched on something really crucial, Ted, which is that I do think some of the animus isn't coming from the people at the bottom of the heap who are still gonna buy her towels and sheets 'cause, as Tina said, they're well made and they're low cost. They're not the ones who are wanting to kill her. The ones who are wanting to destroy this icon are the ones who have to understand that she is a brilliant businesswoman, that she did "synergy" better than the big guys were doing synergy before anyone knew what synergy was, as you put it. And it's a kind of dissection of a kind of brilliant female business mind and business model. And one more thing she did that's taboo, by the way, is she took women's work seriously. She took seriously the traditions of caring about the home, making beautiful things, holding things together in an increasingly mechanized, industrialized environment. And she said, "this matters, I'm going to care about it." And she found a huge market of people who cared about it by taking women seriously. So I think there is so much schadenfreude there. I don't think it has anything to do with the strength of the company.

TED KOPPEL: Jeffrey, I have to assume that they could have done this a much easier way. In other words, if they had offered her some kind of a deal. If they had said, "pay the 45 grand, pay a fine on top of that," whatever it might be. They didn't have to be this rough, did they?

JEFFREY TOOBIN: They didn't have to be, and there were long, long plea negotiations which simply failed. And when I interviewed Martha, you know, that was one of the things we talked about. You know, why don't you cut a deal, why don't you put this behind you? And, you know, what she said to me was, "I'm not cutting a deal because I didn't do anything wrong. I didn't insider trade and I didn't obstruct justice." Now, I've heard guilty people deny things before, but you know, it's very easy for us to sit here and say, "God, what a fool. Why didn't she just cut a deal?" But sometimes people don't cut deals, and maybe this is one of these cases, because they're simply not guilty and they're not gonna admit to something they didn't do.

TED KOPPEL: Tina, do you know her personally?

TINA BROWN: I do, yes, yes.

TED KOPPEL: Is she the kind of person, as many of us are, who are just so damn stubborn and say, "look, I'm not going to cut a deal, why do I have to cut a deal?"

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