On September 22 2019, Facebook’s “Man Page” shared the following meme, declaring that hip-hop artist Tekashi 69 — also called 6ix9ine — is “a snitch” and lifestyle personality Martha Stewart is not:
On the left side was a photograph of Stewart in a Yankees cap and jersey. To the right, Takeshi 69 was seen in profile. Text underneath both images read:
As we watch Tekashi 69 (or whatever his name is) snitch on EVERYBODY, I invite you all to remember Martha Stewart snitched on NOT ONE soul during her trial. Baby girl kept it 10 toes down and ate that prison sentence by herself, like the true baddie she is. 😂😂
Its text made a number of claims: that Tekashi 69 implicated others during the course of prosecution (presumably in return for a lighter sentence), that Tekashi 69 implicated a number of people, that Martha Stewart conversely did not implicate a single person, that Stewart could have done so to evade prison, and that Stewart instead “ate” her prison sentence rather than herself become a “snitch.”
In July 2004, Stewart was sentenced to five months in prison and two years of probation after she had been convicted of “conspiracy, obstruction of justice and lying to federal investigators about a stock deal” the previous March. A reporter covering Stewart’s sentencing cited reasons the judge agreed to a relatively light sentence:
Well, [the judge] gave a couple reasons. She said Martha doesn’t have a prior criminal record, which is true. She also said she’d received over 1500 letters of support saying how Martha had done wonderful things for people and the people supported her.
That was a factor in her decision. She also felt that Martha that had suffered enough and she told her that. She said, you have suffered enough and will continue to suffer.
In that article, cooperation on Stewart’s part by means of implicating others was not mentioned. In 2018, CNN recapped the basic details of Stewart’s conviction:
In December 2001, Stewart sold almost 4,000 shares of ImClone Systems, headed by her friend Samuel Waksal. The problem was that she did it the day before the company announced an FDA ruling about one of its cancer drugs that sent the price of ImClone plummeting. She never faced criminal insider trading charges for the sale, although she later paid $195,000 to settle civil charges with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Her criminal case revolved around charges that she lied to authorities during an investigation of that sale.
In October 2004, Stewart reported to prison to begin serving her sentence — despite the fact she was allowed to remain free, pending an appeal:
Martha Stewart reported to prison [in October 2004] to begin serving a five-month sentence for lying about a stock sale, the federal Bureau of Prisons said.
Stewart, 63, was convicted in March of lying to investigators about why she sold ImClone stock in December 2001, just before the stock price plunged. She was allowed to remain free pending appeal but asked to begin serving her time anyway … Stewart is to remain at the prison until March. A Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman has said inmates who are sentenced to a year or less are not eligible for early release because of good behavior.
An aspect of Stewart’s conviction and incarceration had to do with her attitude and demeanor both during and after the “scandal,” by which the “baddie” label in the meme came into play. A woman known for perfectly arranged decor, complex recipes, and crafts demonstrated what was viewed as a relatable amount of honesty and acceptance of her circumstances.
A 2009 special edition of People magazine (“Scandals That Rocked America”) characterized the public’s feeling that Stewart “ate that prison sentence by herself, like the true baddie she is”:
Some expected America’s goddess of domestic perfection to fall into terminal despair. Instead, with the drive that would make her a billionaire, Stewart took her lemon of a sentence and made lemonade. Heck, she made a lemon soufflé.”
Even before Stewart was indicted, her take-charge attitude was evident — resulting in an often-repeated line uttered by Stewart when she was confronted about the ongoing scandal during a morning show cooking segment in 2002:
Notably, on June 25, 2002, CBS anchor Jane Clayson grilled Stewart on the air about ImClone during her regular segment on The Early Show. Stewart continued chopping cabbage and responded: “I want to focus on my salad.”
In a subsequent non-criminal contract dispute relating to Stewart’s homewares in 2013, she joked about her incarceration in response to an unrelated query:
When the Macy’s attorney inquired about her role at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia by asking “How do you do your time?”, she cracked a joke.
“I did my time,” she said, referring to her 2005 prison sentence for insider trading. The courtroom erupted in laughter.
We examined archival news articles and subsequent material about the trajectory of the case, none of which mention Stewart “snitching.” One article [PDF] noted that a friend of Stewart’s testimony may have damaged her defense, and in effect that friend “snitched” on Stewart:
Perhaps one of the more damaging testimonies which sealed Martha Stewart’s fate was the testimony of her then friend Mariana Pasternak. On the witness stand, Pasternak revealed that she believed Stewart had made a statement indicating her involvement with insider trading. According to Pasternak, Stewart had said, “Isn’t it nice to have brokers who will tell you these things” at around the time the alleged misconduct took place. With testimonies such as these and the failure to provide proof that a stop-call order existed, the situation looked bad for Stewart.
A young broker also testified against Stewart in exchange for leniency in the investigation. In the same piece linked above emphasized that throughout the investigation, Stewart repeatedly made clear through her lawyers that she refused to provide testimony. Whether against herself or others, Stewart declined:
[Congressional investigators for the U.S. House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Committee] did not call Martha Stewart to testify in front as her lawyers had made it clear that she would invoke her Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. Investigators, who had been negotiating unsuccessfully with Stewart’s lawyers to arrange for her voluntary testimony, came to believe that Stewart has been “stonewalling” and would not cooperate … Throughout the period after the scandal broke out, however, Stewart and her spokespeople declined to comment or could not be reached … Her refusal to testify made many wonder whether she really was innocent.
In the meme, it is implied Stewart not only refused to snitch, but that the opportunity arose and she declined it. No coverage of the case indicated definitively that Stewart was asked to provide information implicating others — but Stewart refused to testify, and she was also “snitched on” by others seeking leniency who were implicated in the same investigation. During a nascent investigation in 2002, Stewart’s refusal to voluntarily provide testimony was likened by the media to “looking like Mafia dons.”
In short, Stewart refused to testify, we found no record of her implicating others, and separate individuals ensnared in the investigation testified against her (at least one in exchange for leniency, also known as “snitching”).
On Instagram, Stewart’s television co-host Snoop Dogg shared a pointed meme about snitching and wrote “🙅🏾♂️🤷🏾♂️never have never will”:
Commenters on the post frequently mentioned Tekashi 69. On the same day, Stewart responded to the post in her own comment:
That’s why I like you so much
Birds of a feather!!!!!
Snoop Dogg’s post appeared not long after TMZ’s September 17 2019 claim Tekashi 69 testified against others:
Tekashi69 has completed his first day on the stand in federal court where he’s clearly panicked about testifying against his former fellow gang members of the Nine Trey Bloods.
Altogether, he spent nearly 2 hours on the stand — wearing blue prison scrubs, a white undershirt and still rocking his rainbow colored hair, styled in pigtails. In a courtroom potentially filled with current or former Nine Trey members, he testified he became a member in November 2017, and participated in violent crimes … including shootings, assaults and drug trafficking
At one point, 6ix9ine even ID’d the 2 men who are on trial. He nervously pointed at the defendants, Aljermiah “Nuke” Mack and Anthony “Harv” Ellison, and ID’d them as Nine Trey Gang Members.
Rapper Tekashi 69 [on September 19 2019] named fellow rapper Jim Jones as a member of the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods gang, an admission that stunned the court and people following the trial on social media.
Tekashi, whose birth name is Daniel Hernandez, is on trial for racketeering, drug trafficking, and other crimes, and was asked by prosecutors who Jones was.
“He’s a retired rapper,” Hernandez said in a Manhattan federal courtroom.
“Is he a member of the Nine Trey Bloods gang?” prosecutors asked.
Hernandez replied, “Yes.”
Hernandez also named Cardi B as a member of the gang. She has publicly talked about her affiliation with the gang before, most recently in a 2018 profile by former GQ writer Caity Weaver.
The New York Times addressed Hernandez’s court statements, widespread reaction to his testimony, and the leniency promised to him, should his testimony be useful:
But when 6ix9ine — whose real name is Daniel Hernandez — stepped off the witness stand on [September 19 2019], he stepped into an uncertain future.
The debacle has all but eviscerated Mr. Hernandez’s credibility in rap, where fellow performers have branded him a “snitch.” His safety is similarly suspect; the Nine Trey gang has not historically taken kindly to being double-crossed, and has already threatened to kill him once.
“I knew I was going to become a target,” he said in court. “I knew they were going to try and hurt me.”
Artists including Snoop Dogg, Future and Lil Durk shared memes or pointed words denouncing 6ix9ine as a snitch, with Meek Mill writing, “Message of the day don’t be a internet gangsta … be yourself!”
Mr. Hernandez pleaded guilty in January  to racketeering conspiracy and eight other charges. He faces a minimum of 47 years in prison. If his cooperation is successful, prosecutors agreed earlier this year to lobby for a lighter sentence.
In the tweet contrasting Martha Stewart and Tekashi 69 (and in innumerable social media posts and memes), Stewart was lauded for her refusal to “snitch,” and 6ix9ine was criticized for his identification of purported gang members during a September 2019 court appearance. The overall meme was fueled by Snoop Dogg’s anti-snitching Instagram post, and Stewart’s approval of it via comment. It is also possible Stewart’s Instagram response reflects her distaste for those who testified against her — one of whom was a friend with whom she was traveling during the stock sale.
“Snitching” behavior on the part of Tekashi 69 was broadly covered in September 2019. As to the claims about Stewart, she reiterated her own disdain for snitching; meanwhile, others provided evidence against her during the investigation, which led to her conviction. At the time, multiple reports described Stewart’s broad refusal to testify, but didn’t indicate whether she was offered the same leniency offered to those snitching upon her. Nevertheless, there’s no evidence Stewart ever snitched; she did “eat her sentence” as described; and Tekashi 69 provided identification of others in court.