Feature

Murdoch: A potentially ugly divorce

In papers in a New York court, Rupert Murdoch said his 14-year marriage to Wendi Deng Murdoch had “broken down irretrievably.”

“From New York to Los Angeles to Washington to London,” said John Cassidy in NewYorker.com, “virtually the only topic of conversation was the news that Rupert Murdoch is divorcing his third wife, Wendi Deng Murdoch.” The 82-year-old media mogul filed papers in a New York court last week, declaring that their 14-year marriage had “broken down irretrievably.” The pair had been living separate lives for years: Wendi, 44, spent her time in a jet-set social circle that included Demi Moore, Nicole Kidman, and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, while workaholic Rupert virtually lived on the corporate jet. The timing of the divorce is still curious, said Casey Greenfield in Slate.com. Murdoch is just a week away from a massive restructuring of his $73 billion company, News Corp. Why would an octogenarian billionaire start a divorce battle with a woman who knows all his secrets?

That’s just the way Rupert does things, said Michael Wolff in Guardian.co.uk—“peremptorily, wrathfully, implacably.” Wendi did something to anger him, and he will now do everything possible to cast her “far out in the cold.” Though they have two children, her divorce settlement will be limited by the 1999 prenup, and two postnups to boot. Murdoch has access to any emails Wendi sent through her company-issued account, and even her PR aide is on Rupert’s payroll. “It’s a fearsome thing when News Corp. and the Murdoch family close their ranks against you.”

But in Wendi, said Eamonn Fingleton in Forbes.com, Murdoch has met his match. The child of a poor Chinese family, in the late 1980s Deng persuaded an American couple to sponsor her U.S. visa. By 1990, she had married the husband—and then dumped him after she got her green card. She met Murdoch at a business meeting in 1998, and within months he’d divorced his wife of 52 years. Since then, she’s been linked to everyone from Google’s Eric Schmidt to Blair—who has denied rumors of an affair. Murdoch should remember how Wendi responded to the famous cream pie incident, said Mary Elizabeth Williams in Salon.com. During News Corp.’s 2011 hacking hearings, Deng violently slapped a protester aiming a pie at her husband. So good luck, Rupert. You may be one of the most powerful men in the world, but “that, right there, is a woman who plays offense.”

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