- By Robert ZeligerRobert Zeliger is News Editor of Foreign Policy.
Clearly, the best part of yesterday’s tense parliamentary session with Rupert and James Murdoch was when Wendi Murdoch leapt up to defend her husband after a spectator splattered a foam pie in his face. She literarily jumped over people to slap the man.
Here’s the account of an eyewitness in the room:
What you might not have seen is the full instinctive and furious reaction of Mr Murdoch’s wife, Wendi. Having sat through the evidence unsmiling, she moved faster than anyone else. First, she swung a slap at her husband’s attacker. She followed up by picking up the plate and trying to strike him with it. And then she moved back to her husband. Sitting on the table before him, she started to clear the foam from his face, sometimes embracing him, holding his bald head in her arms.
If you feel like watching her moves repeated in an endless loop, check this out.
Before today, when most people wrote about Mrs. Murdoch, descriptions like "much younger," "third wife," and "social climber" were pretty much de rigueur. And, along with those phrases came negative connotations, of course. Wendi Murdoch, 43, was born Deng Wen Ge in an isolated eastern Chinese city. Her father was a manager at a nearby factory. She left for the United States in 1987 after meeting an older American couple in China who agreed to sponsor her. She moved in with them in California and attended college (she also eventually married the husband and became an American citizen).
That marriage fizzled, as did a subsequent one, before she met Murdoch when she was 30 and he was 68. Though she’s remained busy — even producing a movie in China — her public persona has mainly been the woman standing by Murdoch’s side at various events.
So, it was interesting to see some of the reaction in China, where her slap quickly became the number one trending topic on a popular micro-blogging service.
The Nanfang website posted a few translated tweets.
- Deng Wendi is a pearl among women!
- Every woman has to learn from Deng Wendi. Be an original wife; be a good step mother; slap protesters; be good in social accessions as well as in the kitchen. She’s cunning on the inside and strong on the outside. Act like a tiger woman! Holy cow!
- Deng Wendi is so strong and aggressive! I highly doubt she directed the whole scene to show it to Murdoch! Otherwise, her reaction was unbelievably fast, and she was so brave!
- Mrs Deng Wendi, you are my idol from now on!
- She’s a former volleyball player, not an ordinary woman! Whoever fights her will end up losing! That slap just drove up the stock price of News Corp.
- Deng Wendi not only has business wisdom, she is also a good bodyguard! Hey you professionals in the work place, how many skills do you have?
- I am starting to like Deng Wendi now. She is really aggressive! I think her action was out of instinct. She just wants to protect her family. I don’t think she lost the faces of Chinese women!
Uri Friedman is deputy managing editor at Foreign Policy. Before joining FP, he reported for the Christian Science Monitor, worked on corporate strategy for Atlantic Media, helped launch the Atlantic Wire, and covered international affairs for the site. A proud native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he studied European history at the University of Pennsylvania and has lived in Barcelona, Spain and Geneva, Switzerland.| Passport |