On March 9, 2018, Judge Kiyo Matsumoto of the U.S. District Court, Eastern District, New York, sentenced former hedge fund manager and former pharmaceutical company entrepreneur Martin Shkreli to seven years in prison for securities fraud.
This attracted intense public attention, and pretty quickly it transpired that Shkreli was in the habit of lying to investors. It was on that latter point (the securities fraud, not the price gouging) for which Shkreli was arrested and, in time, convicted.
Shkreli appeared full of remorse at his sentencing, though whether this appearance was a tactical decision or full of sincerity is as always a matter of opinion.
Left Wing View
Shkreli has made himself almost universally reviled. About the most positive comment one could find about him on twitter (which lit up as the sentencing hearing was underway) was along the lines of a young woman who writes for HuffPo, who said that she was “really wavering between my dislike of Shkreli and my fundamental belief that federal sentencing is an inhumane blight on our society in basically every case.”
One can see analogous sentiments on the center-left blogs. Jordan Weissmann, for Slate, wrote a piece that received this headline, “Martin Shkreli is Going to Jail, and I Can’t Even Bring Myself to Enjoy it.”
Meanwhile, the “inhumane blight” tweet had produced the following reply, from Rosatom Ulbricht, “White men never do very much time, don’t cry for him.”
A circulating meme shows Shkreli in one of his infamous smirks and says, “The best thing about this douche: the nation agrees that he is a douche.”
Recently, though, the blog Axios has disclosed that the price of Daraprim has not fallen since Shkreli was chased out of the industry more than two years ago. He became notorious for price gouging when he re-listed the drug at $750 a pill. Only a few days before his sentencing the price was … $750 a pill. The lesson presumably is that when a system is broken the personal characteristics of those who stand to profit from its dysfunctions are not the heart of the matter.
Right Wing View
As noted above, Shkreli is almost universally reviled. That is: he doesn’t find many defenders on the right, either. Heck, even his own lawyer says that he sometimes wants to punch this client in the face.
But there are some who, in the wake of his sentencing, have taken to social media to say that it is excessive. Milo Cernovich tweets the complaint that Shkreli has been sentenced to “longer in prison than most child molesters and pedophiles.”
Another conservative, calling herself “Connie Bee” says that Shkreli’s real offense was that he was “about to dip into the pot” of the elite’s wealth, “and they don’t want to share.”
Much of the social media commentary on this sentencing was neither left nor rightward in tenor. It was simply … amused. In the category of non-partisan amusement one might put the tweet of “Dad Jokes,” who says, “I was considering telling a Martin Shkreli joke for $13, but I’ve since decided that it’s worth $770 instead.”
Also, a parody twitter account from someone who pretends to be President Trump tweets, in that persona, that Shkreli is “like the son I never had!” One is not entirely sure how Don Jr. or Eric are taking that gag.