In the Elizabeth Holmes criminal case, the media is also on trial

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For a time, Elizabeth Holmes was a media darling. The college dropout who started her blood-testing company Theranos at 19 graced the cover of magazines such as Forbes, Fortune, and Inc. in her signature black turtleneck to help cultivate her image as "the next Steve Jobs." She was upheld as a rare female founder who'd raised significant sums of capital to drive her startup towards an eye-popping $9 billion valuation.
(CNN Business) For a time, Elizabeth Holmes was a media darling. The college dropout who started her blood-testing company Theranos at 19 graced the cover of magazines such as Forbes, Fortune, and Inc . in her signature black turtleneck to help cultivate her image as "the next Steve Jobs." She was upheld as a rare female founder who'd raised significant sums of capital to drive her startup towards an eye-popping $9 billion valuation.

Seemingly everyone was fascinated by the young entrepreneur seeking to revolutionize blood testing and who managed to attract a who's who of powerful men to buy into her lofty mission.

Now, Holmes' criminal case is underway in a San Jose federal court where her relationship with the media is also on trial.

Holmes, who has pleaded not guilty, faces a dozen counts of federal fraud and conspiracy charges, and up to 20 years in prison over allegations that she knowingly misled doctors, patients and investors in order to take their money. Part of the alleged scheme? That she and her ex-boyfriend, Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani -- who served as Theranos' chief operating officer -- leveraged the media in their efforts to defraud investors. (Balwani faces the same charges, has pleaded not guilty and is set to be tried after Holmes' case concludes.)

In the government's opening statements, lead prosecutor Robert Leach called attention to Holmes' role in using the media and positive press coverage to propel her company and attract investors. "The defendant's fraudulent scheme made her a billionaire. The scheme brought her fame, it brought her honor, and it brought her adoration," Leach said.

The government alleged that Holmes even approved a 2013 piece by a Wall Street Journal opinion writer prior to its publication that offered a glowing look at Holmes and Theranos, but also contained misleading claims of the company's capabilities at the time. The article corresponded with a broader unveiling of the startup after years of operating in stealth and…
Sara Ashley O'Brien, CNN Business
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