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Last Updated: Saturday, 17 July, 2004, 18:35 GMT 19:35 UK
US press sums up Stewart fall
Martha Stewart arrives for sentencing at Manhattan federal court, in New York Friday July 16, 2004
US papers focus on Martha Stewart's "gilded tendencies"
The fall from grace of lifestyle guru Martha Stewart - sentenced to five months' jail and five months of house arrest on Friday - does not suppress the US media's praise for her talents.

For them she remains the "doyenne of domesticity", a "homemaking maven" with "epicurean" tastes who built a catering business into a multi-media empire.

But after her sentencing for obstructing a federal securities investigation, the newspapers dwell on her fame mainly to highlight the extent of her fall.

News reports cast doubt on her contrition by giving prominence to her view that the stock sale at the centre of the case was merely "a small personal matter".

And her statement outside the courthouse, in which she urged supporters to continue buying her company's goods, is summed up by the Los Angeles Times headline: "Stewart gets five months in prison, then delivers a plug for her firm."

The paper quotes a criminal justice lawyer, George Newhouse, who calls her comments "an astounding statement of defiance and a perfect demonstration that she has not come to grips with the gravity of her situation".


The Washington Post moves beyond the facts of the case to examine Stewart's impact on the lives of American women.

"She deserves credit for teaching a generation of middle-class women that they were entitled to beauty at home. No one in our time has done more or better to nurture that aspiration," says the paper's staff writer Linda Hales.

"But the same gilded tendencies that made Stewart a diva among homemakers now link her to an era of arrogance fostered by people accustomed to extraordinary power," she writes.

According to Hales, a picture emerges of a woman who "gave post-1960s women permission to care about traditional women's pursuits". But at the same time, Martha Stewart invites comparisons with Marie Antoinette, the French royal who came to symbolise extravagance.

More than one paper thinks Stewart's imperious demeanour recalls that of New York property billionaire Leona Helmsley, convicted of tax evasion in 1989 after uttering the infamous words: "Only the little people pay taxes."

The New York Times points out that Stewart is likely to serve time in the same penal institution in which Ms Helmsley was jailed - a federal prison camp in Danbury, Connecticut.

The Times says Danbury might seem like "prison lite" - but with "no tennis court, no pool, no golf course" and standard khaki-coloured prison uniforms, she will find that the experience is nothing like a country club.

Five months in jail for Stewart
16 Jul 04 |  Business
Stewart retrial hopes are revived
21 May 04 |  Business
Martha Stewart retrial bid denied
05 May 04 |  Business
Martha Stewart guilty of lying
06 Mar 04 |  Business
Martha Stewart pays price of fame
05 Mar 04 |  Business

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