Martha: On Trial, in Jail, and on a Comeback

Martha: On Trial, in Jail, and on a Comeback

by Robert Slater

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Martha Stewart is the most famous and wealthy woman on earth--a person whose name is a brand and whose influence touches virtually every home in North America. This is the Martha Stewart story you have never heard It is the

behind-the-scenes story of arrogance and miscalculation that led Martha to a trial that should never have happened...her life in


Martha Stewart is the most famous and wealthy woman on earth--a person whose name is a brand and whose influence touches virtually every home in North America. This is the Martha Stewart story you have never heard It is the

behind-the-scenes story of arrogance and miscalculation that led Martha to a trial that should never have happened...her life in a federal prison cell, told by those who were there...her personal transformation...and finally, her carefully plotted comeback...all the way to The Apprentice and beyond. This gripping narrative reads like a mystery novel and draws upon dozens of exclusive interviews including candid discussions with many principals associated with Martha's trial.


In Martha: On Trial, In Jail, and On a Comeback , You'll go behind the scenes through every phase of Martha's fall and rise: the crime itself; the indictment and both sides' trial strategy; the damning testimony of star witness Douglas Faneuil and Martha's long-time friends; the tearful and

shocking testimony of her decades' long personal testimony; the verdict and more. Robert Slater spoke to insiders at Alderson Federal Prison Camp to gain insight into Martha's prison life and behavior, including her relationship with

inmates and prison authorities and how she began plotting her comeback even while still in prison.


Last but not least, he reveals the PR campaign to resurrect Martha's reputation: one that is making her the first convicted business leader of her stature to come back stronger than ever before.

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PrefacePrefaceLeaving Alderson

March 4, 2005, a few minutes after midnight. The temperatures are sub-freezing, maybe even in the teens. Snow covers the ground. Nearby is the Alderson Federal Women's Prison at Alderson, West Virginia. Dubbed "Camp Cupcake" for its easy living, it is more like hell for its 980 inmates.

Soon, its most famous prison inmate will go free.

The rumor mill is churning in full force. Maybe she'll come out in an hour or two, maybe she'll emerge through an entirely different gate. Perhaps she'll make a public statement soon after her release.

Any public utterance that she makes this evening, any facial gesture, will be dissected and analyzed and conveyed immediately around America and the rest of the world.

For the prisoner is both the most famous and infamous woman in America. Many know her simply by her first name, Martha.

Five months earlier, she slipped into jail in the dark of the night just before dawn, silent, secretive, sullen, strident, high and mighty.

Now, she is about to begin her post-prison freedom and she is on a dramatic mission to stage an unprecedented comeback.

Can she pull it off?

Will her fans welcome her with open arms? Can she again become the queen of homemaking? Can she ignite fresh energy into her faltering businesses?

Or will she be scorned as a convicted felon? Will her commercial empire remain a shadow of itself?

All of America is waiting with baited breath for the answer—or so it seems. For, Martha Stewart has risen, and fallen, and now she is trying to rise again.

While journalists stake out the prison, Stewart goes through the routine that everyprisoner waits for with the greatest anticipation, handing in her prison khakis, closing out her commissary account, and finally, changing into civilian clothes.

She is like no other prisoner in America. No prisoner, indeed no celebrity prisoner, is watched and analyzed as carefully and constantly as she is. The Trace of a Smile

Like every prisoner, she has been counting the days until the hour of her freedom, and now that it is here, the trace of a smile crosses her lips.

Fellow inmates and visitors remark that she is coming off the dreaded experience of five months in prison in remarkably good spirits. The nervous, bemused pre-prison look has given way to a new radiance. Her eyes sparkle. She has a sprightly gait. She emerges kinder, humbler. She seems to have shed her elitist airs by getting close to other prisoners.

This then is the new shiny Martha Stewart, the nicer version, and while there is undoubted orchestration behind her makeover, she still seems genuinely to have put her anger, bitterness, and frustration behind her. She knows she must if mainstream American society and culture will have her back.

As it turns out, Martha Stewart leaves Alderson entirely unnoticed. That is how she and her handlers want it. They are organizing her departure from Alderson and her journey to freedom as if she were a political candidate.

There must be no reminders of her life behind bars. She must convey the image of a leader making a triumphant return, fulfilling her promise, "I will be back." The grimacing, my-life-has-been-a-waste Martha Stewart must be airbrushed out of existence. All photos must show her as a freshly minted heroine.

Hence, her aides do nothing to make life easy for the gaggle of media at the prison gate; but they go out of their way to facilitate television coverage at the Greenbrier Valley Airport in Alderson so that TV crews can shoot Stewart stepping on a plane, whisking her to a new life.

Precisely at 12:30 a.m., she leaves prison and arrives at the airport a half hour later.

"Now we're just waiting for that million-dollar shot," reported a gushing CNN reporter named Deborah Feyerick, "whether it will be a smile, a wave, a wink. What will she be wearing?"

"...We'll have that answer as she leaves West Virginia. I don't know whether she'll ever be back but certainly she's leaving in style."

Martha Stewart is indeed leaving prison in style, accompanied by a brand-new media love-fest. She takes quiet satisfaction that the comeback she so much wants has gotten off to a good start.

She feels that she is finally reading the outside reality in a way that can be helpful to her. She now knows that it had been her own distorted version of that outside reality that had gotten her into such trouble.

But, as she boards the private jet, she knows that cynics and even haters await her, hoping that her comeback will go up in smoke. They do not feel that she should be forgiven for the "small personal matter" (Stewart's phrase) that had turned her life into a nightmare for the past 39 months. They do not regard her as a heroine.

Will the anti-Stewart forces scuttle her comeback? Or will she return to her past glory?

Soon, everyone would know the answer.

© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

Meet the Author

Robert Slater was born in New York City on October 1, 1943, and grew up in South Orange, New Jersey. He graduated from Columbia High School in 1962 and graduated with honors from the University of Pennsylvania in 1966, where he majored in political science. He received a Master’s of Science degree in international relations from the London School of Economics in 1967. He worked for UPI and Time Magazine for many years, in both the United States and the Middle East.


Slater wrote 17 books about major business personalities before his new book on Martha Stewart:

•           The Titans of Takeover (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1987).

•           Portraits in Silicon (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1987).

•           This … .Is CBS: A Chronicle of 60 Years (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1988).

•           The New GE: How Jack Welch Revived an American Institution (Homewood, IL: Business One Irwin, 1993).

•           Get Better or Get Beaten! 31 Leadership Secrets from GE’s Jack Welch (Burr Ridge, IL: Irwin Professional Publishing, 1994). This book made the business best-seller list in Japan.

•           SOROS: The Life, Times, and Trading Secrets of the World’s Greatest Investor (Chicago: Irwin Professional Publishing, 1996). This profile of superinvestor George Soros appeared on the Business Week best-seller list.

•           Invest First, Investigate Later: And 23 Other Trading Secrets of George Soros, the Legendary Investor (Chicago: Irwin Professional Publishing, 1996).

•           John Bogle and the Vanguard Experiment: One Man’s Quest to Transform the Mutual Fund Industry (Chicago: Irwin Professional Publishing, 1996). This is a profile of the most important business figure in the mutual fund field.

•           Ovitz: The Inside Story of Hollywood’s Most Controversial Power Broker (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1997). This book made the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times business best-seller lists.

•           Jack Welch and the GE Way: Management Insights and Leadership Secrets of the Legendary CEO (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1998). This is an updated look at the business secrets of General Electric’s chairman and chief executive officer. It made the Business Week and the Wall Street Journal best-seller lists.

•           Saving Big Blue: Leadership Lessons & Turnaround Tactics of IBM’s Lou Gerstner (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1999), and The GE Way Fieldbook: Jack Welch’s Battle Plan for Corporate Revolution (New York: McGraw Hill, 1999).

•           Eye of the Storm: How John Chambers Steered Cisco Systems Through the Technology Collapse (New York: HarperBusiness, 2003).

•           Magic Cancer Bullet: How a Tiny Orange Capsule May Rewrite Medical History (New York: HarperBusiness, 2003), co-authored with Novartis CEO Dan Vasella.

•           The Wal-Mart Decade: How a New Generation of Leaders Turned Sam Walton’s Legacy into the World’s #1 Company (New York: Portfolio, 2003). A paperback version was published in June 2004.

•           Microsoft Rebooted: How Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer Re-Invented Their Company (New York: Portfolio, 2004).

•           No Such Thing as Over-Exposure: Inside the Life and Celebrity of Donald Trump (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2005).

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