Saturday, June 2, 2007

Sex, Media and Wendi "Mrs Murdoch" Deng

Update: More biographical detail on Wendi Deng here, including an old WSJ article.
What is it with powerful men and their womenfolk? Laura Bush, Cherie Blair and Janet Howard combined have all the sex appeal of a moth-balled cardigan in summer - is that a coincidence? Are we, the morally outraged citizens of the Western world, actually paying the cost for our leaders' sexual frustration?

T'was not always thus, of course. Indeed, there are many powerful individuals who still enjoy both the trappings of power and the tender caress of a loving, if not always loyal, hand... But they don't much like to talk about it.

As France goes to the second round of presidential elections, the country's leading candidate is keeping stories about his wife off-limits to the public:
Mrs Sarkozy, 49, is believed to have spent part of the past few weeks in Florida.

This has been widely reported in the foreign press and on the internet, but has barely been mentioned in the French mainstream press, and not at all on television. The only reference on radio has been in the daily foreign press review on France Inter - the French equivalent of Radio 4 - which last Wednesday gave listeners translated extracts from an article on the Sarkozy marriage published that day in The Independent. The article asked why there had been an official news "blackout" on Cécilia Sarkozy's virtual disappearance: France Inter made no further comment...

Sources in Mr Sarkozy's party, the Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP), say that there has indeed been another serious rift in his marriage: after brief appearances last Sunday at a polling station and at UMP headquarters, Cécilia has disappeared from view once again.

French websites are full of lurid speculation about the causes of the latest Nicolas-Cécilia bust-up, the third in two years. The Paris political-media village is talking of little else, and some are asking whether the rest of the public - especially the provincial public - does not have a right to know as well.

By contrast, the unconventional private life of the other remaining presidential candidate, Ségolène Royal, is well known to all...
So how is it that Sarkozy keeps his wife's name out of the papers, while Royal's life has been so exposed to media scrutiny that her partner was overheard hissing that his life had become "a living nightmare"?
One reason might be that Mr Sarkozy has many connections in the French media industry. The last editor of Paris-Match was fired for running a picture spread showing Cécilia with the man with whom she fled to the US in 2005. The magazine happens to be run by a group owned by a close friend of Mr Sarkozy.

When she left her husband in 2005, Cécilia Sarkozy gave a series of interviews to a journalist, Valérie Domain, who wrote a book giving the reasons for her flight. Mr Sarkozy intervened to have the book pulped.

Ms Domain changed the names and turned her book into a novel, Entre le Coeur et la Raison ("Between Heart and Reason"). The Cécilia Sarkozy character - "Célia" - is presented as an impulsive romantic who cannot stand living with a man who ignores her. At one point she says: "I have the impression that you have become like all of these other politicians, cold and distant, even with your wife. You are a fake, and I can stand it no longer."
Ahh, mon cherie....! What was it Albert Camus said?
"For anyone who is alone, without God and without a master, the weight of days is dreadful."
Coincidentally, Rupert Murdoch's young wife Wendi Deng is also being kept out of the news. As Crikey! reported over a week ago, Fairfax commissioned a major profile but then spiked the story at the last minute:
Here’s one crackerjack cover story you won’t be reading in Good Weekend magazine any time soon – the revealing inside story of the life and times of Wendi Deng. That’s because the story – a 10,000 word profile that took its writer two months of research across the world – was killed by the editor (or someone above her) two days ago.
Crikey! released more "tidbits" from the spiked story today. How long before this data infiltrates the mainstream media? Well, that all depends who dares to publish it, of course. And based on current form, that means ... well, nothing. (NOTE TO READERS: personally I would be happy to publish it if my free Crikey membership were still running, or let me know if you have links).

Now, just because Wendi married a wrinkly, smelly, flaccid old billionaire exactly twice her age (i.e. 38 years older than her) doesn't mean she is some kind of money-grabbing Anna Nicole Smith hoe, of course. Perish the thought! In fact, she is right up there in the Big Media groove:
"Between him and Wendi they are putting a lot of work into China and it is perhaps the last great frontier. China offers News Corp. the possibility of being bigger than Europe and the U.S," Cox said.
Yes, folks, Wendi is working those new business frontiers hard. In fact, with young Lachlan Murdoch reportedly enjoying the Bronte beach lifestyle, there is speculation that she could could even end up controlling the News Ltd empire!

So what do we know about Wendi Deng? Not much. This is from her Wikipedia entry:
Wendi moved to America in 1988 under the sponsorship of Joyce Cherry of California, who taught Deng English when she was in China with her husband, Jake Cherry. When Deng arrived in California, she moved into the home of Joyce and Jake Cherry. Within a year after Deng's arrival, Joyce found compromising photos of Deng in a hotel room in Jake's possession. Joyce kicked out both Deng and Jake, both of whom moved in together and eventually married. Within months of this marriage, Jake kicked Deng out after finding out she had been seeing a man in his 20's, David Wolf (who later went on to become a PR executive at Burston-Marsteller). According to Joyce: "[Deng] disappeared when he couldn’t provide her graduate school." ...

According to media sources run by Rupert Murdoch, Deng met Murdoch in 1999, the CEO of Star TV's parent company News Corporation. Murdoch divorced his wife of 31 years, Anna Torv, and married Deng within weeks afterwards. Shortly before their marriage was the marriage of Murdoch's oldest son, Lachlan, to model Sara O'Hare in Australia. Torv famously told the media that she asked Rupert to not bring Deng to this wedding, a request which Rupert complied with.

Deng and Rupert Murdoch have since had 2 daughters. Since their births, Deng has aggressively been strategizing (through Rupert) to give her children voting rights in a trust which has an interest in News Corp. that alone is valued at USD$6.1 billion. Until Deng's 2 daughters reach the age of 30, Deng would exercise those rights, which would give her 30% control over the trust...

There is reported to be tension between Murdoch and the children of his marriages to Anna over the terms of a trust holding the family's 28.5 percent stake in News Corporation, estimated in 2005 to be worth about $6.1 billion. Under the trust his children by Wendi share in the proceeds of the stock but have no voting privileges or control of the stock. Voting rights in the stock are divided 50/50 between Murdoch on the one side and his children by two prior marriages.

It is Murdoch's stated desire to have his children by Wendi given a measure of control over the stock proportional to their financial interest in it.
So. Obviously, nothing to see here folks! No argument for public interest. No need for further pubic - sorry, I mean public - scrotomy - sorry, I mean scrutiny.

Seriously, folks, if I had any dirt to dish on Wendi Deng I would happily dish it out. But in this case the real dirt is that THERE IS NO DIRT. There's no nothing.

Despite the fact that Deng is purportedly a top executive at a global news organisation (albeit of questionable repute), nobody is even allowed to TALK about her, let alone do interviews etc. Why not?

UPDATE: The Asia Sentinel asks if it is "hazardous to upset Rupert down in Oz". They point out that Deng's original Chinese name, Deng Wenge, means "cultural revolution". Hmmn, that sounds like a catchy phrase. Maybe FOX News should dump the old "fair and balanced" meme for something a bit bolder?
Hello and welcome back to the FOX News cultural revolution!
Seems to work, doesn't it?

Also, a few good thoughts via WP's blog. Why is it that young, sexy women never marry men who are double their age but POOR? Is it true that men only go to war (and build business empires) to impress their women? Could it be that the political struggle for a better world is inextricably linked to our own specie's daily stuggle to overcome the worst parts of our base human nature? Hmmmn...?


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Anonymous said...

Rupert and Wendi,'tiger and tigeress', its quickly becoming a household name here in U.S.!

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