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Supersized loser week

By Jackson Murphy
web posted June 9, 2003

It's not every week that there are billionaires on the verge of a "perp-walk", former first lady's telling all, future Hall of Famers caught with cork in their bat, and pompous newspaper editors resigning amidst endless jokes. But these four seem like the "supersized" losers of the week.

Martha Stewart (L) leaves federal court in New York on June 4
Martha Stewart (L) leaves federal court in New York on June 4

Let's start with Martha Stewart. This week she stepped down as the head of her own company, and plead innocent to a variety of changes, including conspiracy, stemming from her sale of some ImClone stock. Martha has become one of the most talked about people this year for the sale of 4,000 shares. The fact that Martha is a dedicated control freak is what makes her story so compelling. How can she make overly complicated crafts and bakery goods into an empire only to get caught red handed doing something so stupid?

"Big news from Wall Street," said MSNBC's Joe Scarborough. "The Feds are cracking down on Martha Stewart. That's kind of like letting Hitler keep control of his army and arresting the Fuhrer's secretary for typing out his orders."

Then there is Hillary Clinton. With her new book hitting bookstores today Sen. Clinton admits that, "as a wife, I wanted to wring Bill's neck." We can only hope that Simon & Shuster didn't pay $8 million to figure this sort of thing out.

I was always under the impression that Hillary Clinton is a really smart woman. But to think with of all of Bill's extra-marital dalliances this one came as a surprise seems ridiculously naïve or politically astute. It would seem that the whole book, at sprawling 576 pages, is designed with one purpose: to paint Hillary as the complete innocent and distance her from the sleaziness of her portly husband.

What this book is designed to do is to forever prevent Hillary from becoming the Martha Stewart of the Democratic Party. Painting her this way transformed her from being a political Martha into likeable Hillary. As Dick Morris tells it, "For Hillary to pretend injured innocence at this point has only one motive: She needs to somehow justify her strident public defense of her husband. "

"She can't admit the truth: that she defended him because she didn't want him forced from office -- ending both their political careers -- because he'd been unfaithful to her," continued Morris.

Chicago Cubs' Sammy Sosa listens to questions from the media during a news conference before their interleague game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in Chicago on June 4
Chicago Cubs' Sammy Sosa listens to questions from the media during a news conference before their interleague game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in Chicago on June 4

What about Chicago Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa? Last Monday the U.S. House of Representatives, always the hard workers for the people, passed a resolution "Congratulating Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs for Hitting 500 Major League Home Runs." The resolution passed 372-0.

The next night Sammy was thrown out of a game for having cork in his bat, eventually getting an 8-game suspension. This is a perfect example of why government should never interfere in anything, but maybe it was simply an accident by Mr. Sosa. Does this tarnish Sammy's 500 home runs or that glorious season when he and Mark McGwire chased Roger Maris's single season home run record? Time will only tell. Perhaps they will put an asterisk beside all his homeruns, but it sure is hard to dislike someone who seems so nice-Martha Stewart, Sammy is not.

This brings us to Howell Raines. Raines, the newly resigned Executive editor of The New York Times, finally bowed to growing pressure and scandal at the famous paper of record.

In 19 short months, Raines made the paper the punchline of every late night talk show host. A reputation is forever changed, and proof that even large media organizations are still held accountable. The Times was always the Swiss banker of news -- if you can't trust the Times, then who can you trust?

Andrew Sullivan who has made a sizable cottage industry out of gleefully taking shots at the Times credits the rise of webloggers for the Raines ousting. "Blogs revealed how many of the NYT's polls were skewed in the way they presented or spun data. They exposed the anti-Bush fervor of the Enron coverage. Then they broadcast the revelation of how Paul Krugman had once had lucrative former ties with Enron. We exposed blatant lies on the front-page - from allegedly soaring temperatures in Alaska to the fabricated cooptation of Henry Kissinger into the anti-war camp in August 2002."

The interesting thing about fame and fortune, especially in America, is that one week you can be the equivalent of pond scum, and then perhaps even in the next week you are back on top. Supersized losers can sometimes repair devastating blows to reputations but can Martha ever be looked at the same day, can Hillary ever be mentioned without thinking of Bill and Monica, can Sammy ever uncork his image, or can Howell Raines ever run a paper again. Probably not, yet the unique thing is that they could everyone likes a good comeback.

Jackson Murphy is a commentator from Vancouver, Canada. He is the editor of "Dispatches" a website that serves up political commentary 24-7. You can contact him at jacksonmurphy@telus.net.

Other related stories: (open in a new window)

  • Plop plop fizz fizz by Jackson Murphy (June 24, 2002)
    Things are getting so bad on Wall Street that politicians are even taking on domestic doyen Martha Stewart for allegedly trading stocks on inside knowledge, says Jackson Murphy
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