Ashton Kutcher’s FTC Drama: Did he Really Break the Law?
4:30 pm, August 19th | by Sylvie Krekow
Ashton Kutcher: new (well-paid) new star of Two and a Half Men, resident of the world’s swankiest trailer, beloved host of the old MTV show Punk’d, and… violator of FTC rules?
Okay, let’s back up.
So here’s the deal. Ashton guest edited for Details, the Condé Nast magazine covering fashion, “lifestyle” items, and presumably other stuff that Condé magazines usually cover. In one of the pieces of Details, people called “The New Titans of Tech” are covered. And out of these new “titans,” three out of the four profiled are involved in companies Kutcher has invested in (Airbnb, Foursquare and Flipboard). According to Gawker, that’s a problem. According to Daniel Peres, the editor of Details, it’s not. In an interview with the New York Times, Peres says, “I can assure you that Ashton is not looking at our 500,000 readers as an opportunity to feather his nest.” And Details said that they did include a caveat in the piece, noting that Kutcher “puts his money where his mouth is, backing many of the companies he champions here.”
Who to believe? More than anything this seems like an issue of semantics. When is a financial disclosure not a financial disclosure? Obviously the Details statement was a little vaguer than what you might see in an article from, say, Bloomberg or Seeking Alpha, but those are financial publications. Could it be that style issues led to this whole kerfuffle?
So is it poor Ashton, who’s just trying to help his readers by telling them about companies he believes in so much he invested in them? Or should we side with Gawker, who points the finger and says it’s might suspicious he chose to highlight those companies?
Regardless, the FTC reported this morning that they will indeed not be pressing charges against Kutcher. Ashton, it looks like you’re in the clear this time — but try not to be so shady in the future, okay?