Meet Mrs. Murdoch
Who had a critical profile of Rupert's wife, Wendi Deng, spiked?
"Yet no-one has explained what 'editorial judgments' led to a long running and expensive project suddenly being deemed unworthy of publication," Media Watch reports. Expensive project? How expensive? Asia Sentinelreports that Good Weekend promised Ellis $24,500 for the profile, that he visited London, New York, Los Angeles, and Jiangsu province—where Deng was born—to report it.
The 2000 article in the Wall Street Journal established that Deng was a News Corp. player, despite Murdoch's protest that Wendi Deng was just a housewife "busy working on decorating the new apartment" in Manhattan, as he told Vanity Fair in 1999. What presumably disturbed Murdoch was the Journal's portrayal of Deng as a gold digger.
To short-form the Journal piece, Deng was born the daughter of a factory director and came to the United States in 1988 as a teenager when a California couple, Jake and Joyce Cherry, sponsored her. In 1990, after the Cherrys divorced, Deng married Jake, then in his early 50s. Cherry tells the Journal the two lived together for four or five months, but that she started seeing another man. Deng and Cherry divorced 31 months after they wed.
From California State University at Northridge, Deng jumped to the Yale School of Management, where she earned an MBA. She joined News Corp.'s satellite network, Star TV, as an intern in its Hong Kong office in 1996. The Deng-Murdoch romance was public by summer of 1998; the two married on June 25, 1999, 17 days after Murdoch divorced his wife of three decades. The curious won't have to wait much longer to find out what's in Ellis' profile. The Monthly of Melbourne intends to publish it June 6.
If I were Rupert Murdoch, I'd take the Wendi Deng punches and relax. Note to Murdoch: If Charles Foster Kane had been mellow about dumping his wife for Susan Alexander instead of trying to shove her down the opera crowd's throat, he probably wouldn't have died a miserable old man.
Deng has a past; Murdoch has a past. Lots of people combine ambition with romance. So what if she extracts from the life of Sammy Glick a role model instead of a cautionary parable? Their match is hell-made and perfect. Deng's grounding in Chinese culture obviously makes her useful to Murdoch, who wants more than anything to conquer China before he dies.
Asia Sentinel waxes more cerebral about what the Deng furor means for the future of journalism:
Given Murdoch's other extensive press interests in the United States, it raises questions whether the concentration of press power in his hands, particularly with America's most prominent business publication, could play a role in the promotion or suppression of stories in the interest of a rough and ready press baron.
Don't miss my previous Murdoch bashing: why I don't want him to own the Journal, and the sequel, "Eight More Reasons To Distrust Murdoch." And while we're on the subject, where is the Murdoch biopic? I want something with more sweep than the Law and Order: Criminal Intent episode "Proud Flesh," a murder mystery based loosely on the Murdoch family. Who should star as Rupert in the big-screen feature? As Deng? As the kids? What's his Rosebud? Who should script? Who should direct? Send your nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org, and if Murdoch doesn't put the squeeze on the Washington Post Co. board, I'll publish the best of the lot. (E-mail may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise. Permanent disclosure: Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.)