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Martin Shkreli ordered to shut the fuck up

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty
Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty

Martin Shkreli, the bitterest $750 pill America ever had to swallow, has built his entire persona on being a moneyed troll whose mouth writes giant checks his hedge fund can cash—whether it’s gleefully jacking up the price of life-saving drugs, or just making death seem preferable to living in an age when he’s allowed to be famous. But with his existence temporarily, at least partially under the control of a federal judge who’s overseeing Shkreli’s prosecution for securities fraud, Shkreli now faces a threat to his own chemical dependence on toxic bullshit: He’s been placed under a partial gag order, with Judge Kiyo Matsumoto telling him, for his own sake, to shut the fuck up.

Prosecutors motioned for Shkreli to be muzzled after he made a spate of typically grandstanding statements to the press in and around the courthouse, including a moment when Forbes’ Matthew Herper says he “barged” into a room filled with reporters to give them some. To them, Shkreli has openly mocked one of his alleged fraud victims as lacking credibility “because she made money,” derided the prosecutors as “junior varsity,” and generally commented—directly and on camera—about the case as it’s proceeding. Shkreli was also accused of using the Twitter handle @BLMBro to snark about the trial online, having created the new account after the service banned him earlier this year for harassing a female journalist. (That account has since been suspended as well.) All told, as Herper characterizes it, Shkreli “talked freely, eagerly, and calmly”—and given that he is Martin Shkreli, that did not bode particularly well for the public perception of Martin Shkreli.

“I was shocked that there were these comments, these statements,” Matsumoto said according to CNBC, apparently not having heard much of Martin Shkreli in whatever silk robe-enclaved utopia judges get to retire to when they’re not on the bench. Matsumoto cited the “great risk that jurors will be exposed” to Shkreli’s actual thoughts and personality, thus negatively influencing the outcome of the trial. And given the difficulty of even finding jurors who weren’t already familiar with him—or just innately aware that he’s like if greed fucked a snake—this is no minor concern, as Shkreli’s nonstop, vlog-Bond-villain routine will soon leave him with no objective or sympathetic ear left in the world, save for coma victims and Ivanka Trump.

In response to the motion, Shkreli’s lawyer Benjamin Brafman—who opened his defense by quoting Lady Gaga, saying Shkreli was “weird” and a “misunderstood genius,” but hey, he was just “born this way”—claimed that his client was in a “frail emotional state.” Brafman further insisted that Shkreli had been “baited” into a commenting by a biased press that insists on only reporting on his various misdeeds, or quoting him verbatim, instead of just talking about how he has nice clothes or all the lives he didn’t endanger out of his own avarice.

Nevertheless, Brafman has agreed that there will be no more commentary from Martin Shkreli—at least in and around the courthouse, for the duration of the trial. Shkreli will still be free to talk on social media, as well as through the collective groan of the society to which he’s attached like a virus no one can afford to rid themselves of.

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