Many Americans think Martha Stewart (search) is guilty of the federal charges against her, and some think she should serve jail time, but a majority believes Stewart is receiving tougher treatment from prosecutors because she's a celebrity.
A FOX News national poll, taken June 17-18 by Opinion Dynamics Corporation, finds that 65 percent of the public think Stewart is guilty of the federal obstruction of justice and conspiracy charges, with 35 percent saying she is "guilty and should serve jail time," and 30 percent saying she is guilty "but the charges are not serious enough to justify jail time."
Only 14 percent say Stewart is not guilty and 21 percent have no opinion. In addition, Stewart receives no extra sympathy from her fellow females, as both men and women agree on her guilt.
Just over half of Americans (53 percent) think federal prosecutors are being tougher on Stewart because she is a celebrity, but one in five (21 percent) think she is getting softer treatment because of her star status.
The poll is released on the same day Stewart’s trial date (set for Jan. 19) was announced in a Manhattan district courtroom.
Overall, less than a third of the public (30 percent) has a favorable opinion of Stewart, while 45 percent say they have an unfavorable view and 25 percent are not sure.
"Besides being a person, Martha Stewart is a 'brand name' and it must be disturbing to business associates to see a brand that is rated unfavorably by a three-to-two margin," comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman. "When the American people make up their minds in criminal cases like the Petersen case, the accused still gets a day in court. Here the damage may be more at the checkout lines."
Polling was conducted by telephone June 17-18, 2003 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ±3 percentage points.
1. Please tell me whether you have a generally favorable or unfavorable opinion of Martha Stewart. If you've never heard of heard of her, please just say so. (RANDOMIZE)
SCALE: 1. Favorable 2. Unfavorable 3.(Can't say) 4. Never heard of Martha Stewart
2. Earlier this month, Martha Stewart was indicted on five federal counts, including conspiracy and obstruction of justice, and could go to jail if convicted. From what you've heard, do you believe Martha Stewart is guilty of these charges and should serve jail time, is guilty but the charges are not serious enough to justify jail time, or is she not guilty?
3. Do you think federal prosecutors are being tougher on Martha Stewart because she is a celebrity or are they being softer on her because she is a celebrity?