Comment&analysis today thursday July 21, 2011 12
‘smack-down sister’ no trophy wife
Wendi deng, the steely, ambitious woman behind rupert Murdoch, earns her moment in the spotlight
T he Murdoch who emerged in the best
light from the gruelling question-and-
answer session in the British Parliament
of four grown children from two previous
marriages. They were married in 1999 — 17
days after his divorce from his wife of 31
on Tuesday was not Rupert, 80, or his son years, Anna, James’ mother.
James, but the older man’s wife.
The lightning reflexes of Ms Wendi ‘sMartEr thaN ruPErt’
Deng, as she sprang from her seat to swing These days, Ms Deng lives with Mr Murdoch
at her husband’s attacker and try to smack and their two daughters Grace and Chloe, in
him in the face with his own foam pie, owes a penthouse apartment previously owned
as much to her athletic prowess as to her by Laurance S Rockefeller on Fifth Avenue
protective instincts towards Murdoch Sr. in New York — for which they paid a record-
The 42-year-old who was wearing a breaking US$44 million (S$53.4 million).
pink jacket and polka dot pencil skirt was She has long been a subject of gossip
seated immediately behind her husband as columns. “Wendi Murdoch may be even
members of the Culture, Media and Sport smarter than Rupert Murdoch,” said New
Committee grilled him, occasionally pour- York Daily News gossip columnist Joanna
ing his water and leaning in to whisper en- Molloy. “She is no dummy. She is a con-
couragement. Until, that was, her Charlie’s sigliere to him, she has a self interest. She is
Angel moment. very protective of him and very involved.”
The Murdoch father and son were near- Vanity Fair writer Michael Wolff, author
ing the end of more than two hours of ques- of a Murdoch biography, describes her as
tioning when there was a sudden commo- “incredibly full of energy, incredibly intelli-
tion. The shaving-cream assailant, Jonathan gent, living the life and just squeezing every-
May-Bowles, walked up to Mr Rupert Mur- thing out of it ... She is incredibly ambitious.”
doch, took aim and struck. While Ms Deng wields some influence
Ms Deng lunged while startled police at News Corp, Mr Wolff said, the executives
officers were barely off the back foot. While “have always tried to keep her out of the way
a roomful of male advisers also appeared and the kids have tried to keep her at bay”.
stunned, she scooped up the paper plate A few years ago, several news reports
fired at her husband and launched it like a said that she had battled Mr Murdoch’s
grenade back at May-Bowles, a comedian, adult children to secure a voting position
with an amazing right hook. for her children in the family trust, which
Such was the force of her shot that the holds the Murdoch stake in News Corp,
foam landed on a police officer and on her worth billions of dollars.
own blue-painted toes. “She reminds me in a certain way of
Witnesses believed that if it wasn’t Rupert himself. She is out to do what she
for that officer she would have continued wants to do,” Mr Wolff said, adding: “That
round the table to finish the man off. really makes you someone to be reckoned
She capped the performance by pro- with and someone who ultimately seems
ceeding to sit on the table in front of her hus- quite fearless.”
Ms deng openly fusses over her husband and is said to regularly admonish him for not taking She is also an important asset to his
band, calmly wiping his foam-flecked face.
enough care of his health — scoldings Mr Murdoch seems to enjoy. rEutErs
That she reportedly laughed: “I got ventures into the China market. “Wendi
him”, relishing the moment she swung thE WoMaN BEhINd thE MaN in Guangzhou, left China as a teenager with gives News Corp a Chinese face in China,”
a right hook at the comedian, indicates At 1.78m and possessed of steely determina- the help of a Californian couple, Jake and Mr Joseph Ravitch, from the Goldman Sachs
Ms Deng is no shrinking violet — more tion, the Yale-educated Ms Deng is a yoga Joyce Cherry, according to a Wall Street Journal media practice that advised News Corp on
Crouching Tiger, according to members devotee and has always excelled at sports. profile of her in 2000. its Asia strategy, told the Wall Street Journal.
of her instant global fan club, the millions It is undoubtedly because of her that Rupert They helped her get a student visa and “She represents not just the company but
of television viewers who watched her finds himself pumping iron at 6am and the young Wendi moved into their home, the owner, and that’s critical in a country
performance live. downing a concoction of fruit and soy pro- claims the article, but all was not well. Joyce where families are very important.”
“Wow, Wendi Murdoch giving whole new tein, as the News Corporation chairman once suspected her husband was having an affair But she rose to new global prominence
meaning to the term tiger mother ... insanity!” disclosed to Vanity Fair in a rare interview. and the couple separated. Ms Deng was later with her actions in the committee room in
Ms Katie Couric, the former CBS Evening News A former school volleyball champi- married to Jake Cherry for a brief four months. Parliament on Tuesday.
anchor, said in a comment on Twitter. on in Guangzhou, where she was raised, Soon after getting her MBA from Yale, It brought her immediate praise even
“When I saw Wendi Murdoch last week Ms Deng openly fusses over her husband Ms Deng returned to Asia where she joined from those lawmakers who had directed
in NYC, she told me last week she had to go and is said to regularly admonish him for Star TV in Hong Kong as an intern in 1996. the toughest questions at her husband.
to London to take ‘care of her man’ ... now not taking enough care of his health — It was at Star TV, once owned by Mr Mur- “Mr Murdoch, your wife has a very good
I see what she meant,” rap mogul Russell scoldings Mr Murdoch seems to enjoy. doch, that she met the media tycoon at a left hook,” said Mr Tom Watson, a Labour
Simmons tweeted. Although she has no formal high-rank- company party. Member of Parliament.
Mr Murdoch’s third wife was also dubbed ing title in his companies, she acts as his She first appeared at his side in 1998 After an approximately 15-minute sus-
“Smack Down Sister” in cyberspace in China, counsellor and by all accounts as his pow- and acted as Mr Murdoch’s interpreter on pension, the hearing resumed.
where she was born — she is now one of the erful right-hand woman, she has asserted a visit to Shanghai and Beijing. Rumours of And Mrs Murdoch once again had taken
hottest topics on the country’s Twitter-like influence in his global media empire — par- their romance were fuelled when they were her place close behind her man. ¢ aGENCIEs
service Weibo. “When you marry, you should ticularly in advising him on potential invest- seen holding hands after company dinners.
marry a Chinese woman. In times of danger, ments in the lucrative Chinese market. She was 30, and a newly-appointed >> a ClassIC CasE of
she will act,” posted Loulan Loulan Ms Deng, a daughter of a factory director Star TV vice-president. He was 68, father CorPoratE faIlurE? 16