Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Today's The Day... Wendi Deng Revealed!

Eric Ellis' profile of Wendi Deng Murdoch is finally out in today's issue of The Monthly. Unfortunately, the story is not available online, so I will have to go out and buy a copy ASAP [UPDATE BELOW]. Meanwhile, here's the blurb:
In “Wendi Deng Murdoch”, renowned journalist Eric Ellis profiles the wife of media mogul Rupert Murdoch. From her early life in austere communist China, her time as a student in Los Angeles and her subsequent swift rise in News Corporation’s Star TV, in Hong Kong, to her recent involvement in the News-owned community website MySpace, this is the story of a person both ambitious and disarming, intelligent and charming. Avoiding salacity in favour of far-ranging, detailed investigation, Ellis offers an even-handed summation of the life of a highly important yet scarcely known person, and of her role in News Corporation.
"Even-handed"? Who wants even-handed? This is MURDOCH we are dealing with - when did HE ever give anyone an "even-handed" profile?

Just to show how Fair And Balanced they are, The Monthly online also offers a couple of "even-handed" extracts. Here's the positive one:
If she is assuming a grander role for herself at News, can Wendi deliver China to her husband? [Former Star CEO] Gary Davey says that at the very least she’d be an improvement on her predecessors. Over the years, he explains, News has been inundated with fixers, influence-brokers and spruikers promising riches in China but not delivering. ‘We’d have two or three a day,’ he remembers, ‘members of the politburo who’d show up with their hands out. It was just revolting. It’s all very well having the connections and the guanxi [influence] and all of that nonsense, but most of the guys who are in that racket wouldn’t have a bloody clue about how to run a business.’ Wendi is different, Davey says, bringing to the role an understanding of the culture and language, and also ‘really intense business nous, one of the missing pieces of the China puzzle’.
And here's the negative one (pretty mild, IMHO):
“‘There is no one in [News Corporation] with Rupert’s vision or breadth of interest,’ warns Andrew Neil, a former senior Murdoch employee … ‘Wendi has two young kids to look after, but everybody’s view is that she is biding her time. She keeps her hand in as to what is going on. He’s very close to her. Everybody expects to see her as a rising player. From everything I hear about her, underestimating her would be very foolish, particularly in a post-Rupert world. She’ll want to be there when the [company] carve-up happens, and she’s got two kids who are increasingly being cut in to the post-Rupert pie,’ says Neil.”
Let's hope there's more meat in the hardcopy. Stay tuned...

UPDATE: Well, I got hold of the Monthly and quickly read the article. First impression is mild disappointment, as in: "What was all the fuss about"?

Remember, the Fairfax press commissioned this article at some considerable expense - the author, Eric Ellis, has clearly travelled far and wide to track down his sources and investigate Deng's past lives - but then they decided to spike it rather than incurr the wrath of Rupert Murdoch (who was a minority Fairfax shareholder at the time). Why they did so is even more perplexing now, given that there is really nothing explosive here. I can only assume that Murdoch is rabidly protective of his new bride, and determined to extinguish any media coverage of her. So did Fairfax cave to his pressure? Or did they do a deal: we'll spike the story if you sell your shares. Either that, or Fairfax sent Ellis on a fishing trip and threw the catch away when he came home without the whopper catch they were counting on.

There are some interesting nuggets, of course. But most of the article is information that is already publicly available, and has been published on this blog (after cut-and-pasting from one site or another). In fact, there are a few stories here that Ellis barely touched (or did not touch at all). Anyway, here are a few nuggets from the Monthly article that are not noted elsewhere on this blog:

1. Until the details were published in the Wall Street Journal, Murdoch apparently did not know much about Deng's past, including the affair and marriage with Jake Cherry, which secured her a US visa. One WSJ journo describes Murdoch as "ashen-faced" at their next meeting. As Ellis writes, Murdoch got a rude taste of his own tabloid journalism medicine. I can't help wondering if that has anything to do with his current bid for the Journal?

2. Deng is a minor celebrity in China, though there are very mixed feelings about her. One Chinese fan runs a couple of Wendi Deng websites - wendideng.com and dengwendi.com, both with identical data. The info is in Chinese only, but seems to be nothing more than money-making celebrity-watching.

3. Deng's former best friend complains that she hasn't heard from Wendi in ten years. But here childhood past doesn't seem too suspicious. Nothing about high-level Communist Party connections, or even the spy allegations once hinted at in Crikey.

All in all, I would say the article paints a fairly favourable portrait of Deng as an intelligent, ambitious girl with no sense of shame. Or, as somebody put it in the article, little sense of "self-awareness". She worked her way up the corporate ladder by dancing into the offices of hand-picked executives with a cutesy, innocent girl routine which she "perfected" with practice. But few of her ex-colleagues seem to harbour any ill feelings towards her. Maybe that's just how things work in the Murdoch media empire?

UPDATE 2: 24 hours later and this story appears to have been met with a stony silence in the media. Despite previous interest from Slate, the Telegraph and other outlets, nobody has yet run a story on Deng. Is that fear I smell?

Meanwhile, Wendi Deng's husband is cutting jobs at his four UK papers to help finance his exorbitant bid for the WSJ.
The cuts, which follow a number of previous redundancies, mirrored moves by all UK newspaper groups, News International Executive Chairman Les Hinton said in a statement to senior staff.

"This is necessary because newspaper revenues are coming under pressure at a time when other costs are rising and we are also investing in digital media," Hinton said.
Which reminds me that there is another excellent article in The Monthly, “War of Words”, by Eric Beecher:
“It would be difficult to overstate the serious media’s anxiety about the future of quality journalism. This anxiety stems from an old dilemma – is journalism a public trust or a business? – overlaid on a new dilemma: that as the internet matures into a successful commercial medium, the funding model for quality commercial journalism is collapsing. This is no longer simply a debate about the role of press barons like Rupert Murdoch. It is now about whether the owners of quality commercial journalism – predominantly the owners of the world’s major newspapers – are prepared to accept lower profits and diminished share prices in order to continue funding costly but important journalism. There can only be one conclusion: in your dreams.”
UPDATE 3: Ellis has a website at Eric Ellis dot com, which includes a PDF of his letter to ABC's MediaWatch. I've asked him to confirm that no juicy details were edited out of the version published in The Monthly.

UPDATE 4: Eric Ellis never replied to my email. You can find the Chinese version of his Deng article here - worth a look for the photos alone, which are not the same as those in the Monthly version.


right here said...
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right here said...

Rupert Murdoch must have done a deal with The Monthly! That June 6, 2007 article on Wendi Deng (his current wife) is too tame. Let's face it:

At the tender age of 18, she freely walked into Guangzhou hotel rooms to sleep with a 50-year old married American (Jake Cherry) who spoke a language she didn't understand (English) and was introduced to her by his then-wife (Joyce Cherry). On top of that, she suckered Jake Cherry into persuading his then-wife (Joyce Cherry) into sponsoring her into the U.S., where she lived rent-free in their home with their children, ate their food (with them), went places with them, took everything the Cherrys gave her (and also things meant for their daughter), ALL THE WHILE CONTINUING ON WITH HER AFFAIR WITH JAKE CHERRY IN FRONT OF THEIR FACES!

Surely, destroying the home and lives of people who have shown her kindness is natural to Deng.

Then, 4 months into her marriage with Jake Cherry, she is caught seeing the then-20-something-year old, David Wolf. It’s no wonder Wolf never married her. (I bet you Deng tried.) Nevertheless, she carried on with Wolf while staying married to Cherry, then divorced him 7 months after getting her green card.

At Star TV, Deng took her whoring activities into the office. It seems to me that, if her bosses arranged for Deng to travel with Rupert Murdoch on their first trip together to Shanghai, they probably knew that Deng would “give a little something” to Murdoch on the trip. By all accounts, Deng appears to have made it clear to everyone at Star TV that she was AVAILABLE to any and all senior male executives. Thus, by the time Deng met Murdoch, she probably had made a go at EVERY senior male executive before she tried her hand at Murdoch.

I wouldn't want her in my home, would you?

gandhi said...

right here,

When you look at the powerful people who run this world, do you see many people with BETTER morals?

Deng fits in nicely with that crowd. As someone once said, Murdoch deserver her (and she him).

Wolf is an interesting character. I really wonder what happened there.

Gustavo said...

Wendi beautiful, smart. If you tell lies about her is because you are next to nothing. Who are you to hold up anybody to anything?

funny said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
gandhi said...

I just deleted funny's comment because it was racist. It's only the second time in four years I have had to delete a comment: I do so reluctantly.

regina said...

hi right here, just curious about your last sentence. Has she offered to be in your home?

Sunny said...

Whoever said that if you are super-rich you also are probably a super human being? Unfortunately it seems the opposite is true. I wonder how Murdoch is going to feel when Wendy moves on to a younger man with more clout. It's the corporate clutch with the cat eating the male mouse who's decided that eating cheese is worth a tremendous amount of pain.