Sunday, June 16, 2013

Why Wendi Deng Will Not Go Quietly

By Neil Chenoweth

Two days before shares in his new split empire begin trading on Wednesday, Rupert Murdoch is facing an existential threat to his control of the global media monolith he has built over 60 years.
Challenges loom on many fronts – demerger problems, ongoing US and UK criminal inquiries, and thedeparture of long-time CFO David DeVoe, the last ­member of Murdoch’s inner circle of ­advisers who have stood beside him for two ­decades. But there’s no question where the real danger lies.
Volumes have been written in the last three days about Murdoch’s decision to divorce his wife of 14 years, Wendi Deng. Much of it has been spin and invention.
Sensational reasons have been suggested for the divorce, but with Murdoch the answers are rarely mono-dimensional. Many factors are at play.
What’s more significant is how this plays out as a spectacular struggle for power and money.
Perhaps the most remarkable claim has been that this will be a private negotiation behind closed doors. Of course that’s ­certainly possible – and indeed likely in the initial phase at least.


The alternative reading is that when the gloves come off this will be Wendi Deng’s moment.
How hard will Deng fight in this divorce? Consider her iconic moment two years ago, when she won worldwide applause for her response when a cream pie was thrown at Rupert Murdoch during a UK parliamentary committee.
Within two seconds of seeing the pie-thrower, Jonathon May-Bowles, Deng had popped him with a swinging right.
It’s the response of the protective spouse, the way everyone would like to react to such an incident. Most people wish that in hindsight because in reality few can shift from surprise to outrage to assault quite that fast.
It’s the copybook response of the Tiger Wife protecting her family. But how does that play out when she is fighting not to protect her spouse, but to protect her two daughters from Murdoch’s lawyers?

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