Australian Magazine Kills Profile of Wendi Murdoch

After commissioning an A$30,000 article about Wendi Deng,

the glamorous Chinese third wife of media titan Rupert Murdoch, an Australian

magazine apparently had second thoughts about running it shortly before it was

to appear and killed it permanently.

The story, an exhaustive 10,000-word profile by

Singapore-based Australian journalist Eric Ellis, was scheduled to appear in

the magazine Good Weekend, an offshoot of the Sydney Morning Herald, which is

owned by Fairfax Media, which publishes newspapers and magazines in Australia and New Zealand. Murdoch owns a small

stake in Fairfax

though his News Corp company.

But Ellis’s story was ordered killed, either by editor

Judith Whelan or someone above her, according to Crikey, a gadfly online

newsmagazine based in Sydney.

The Australian-born Murdoch, chief executive officer of News

Corp, is one of the most powerful men in the world of global media. News Corp

controls magazines, supermarket tabloids, television networks, Internet

operations and, among other news and entertainment outlets in the United States,

the right-wing television network Fox TV.

Certainly, there is enough grist in the story to satisfy the

publisher of any supermarket tabloid. Murdoch, born in 1931, met Deng, born in

1968, in 1997 or 1998 when she was an intern at Star TV in Hong

Kong, which is controlled by News Corp. Murdoch divorced Anna Torv, to whom he had

been married for 31 years, and married Deng the same year.

According to a bruising entry in Wikipedia, the online

encyclopedia, Deng had a tumultuous personal life before she met Murdoch. She was said to have moved to the United States 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, who 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 20s.”

Ellis spent three months on the assignment, traveling to London, New York, Los Angeles, and to Xuzhou

in Jiangsu

province, where Deng, originally named Deng Wenge, which means Cultural

Revolution, was born into a family headed by an upper level line manager in a

factory.

Crikey reported that Ellis talked to dozens of people,

including the ex-wife of Deng’s older first husband, Murdoch watchers, current

and former executives and Wendi’s school friends and teachers.

The sheer logistics and ambition of the task suggest it was

one of the most expensive and ambitious projects ever undertaken by Good

Weekend for a single feature, Crikey reported.

The story is believed to be the most detailed account ever

written about one of the world’s most interesting and – through her marriage –

powerful women. It follows a provocative Wall Street Journal profile of Deng in

2000, titled "Rupert Murdoch's Wife Wendi Wields Influence at News

Corp", which caused a furor within Murdoch family circles because of the

information it revealed about the genesis of the Rupert-Wendi relationship and

the sensitive area of the breakdown of Murdoch’s 31-year marriage to Anna, the

mother of Elisabeth, Lachlan and James.

Last year, according to the Crikey story, Hong

Kong's Next Magazine investigated Deng's early years, interviewing

teachers, friends and classmates, dredging up some embarrassing childhood

snippets. "She had many talents

basketball, badminton, volleyball", said teacher Zhang Shan Li.

"Academic ability was just above average."

Neither Wendi nor Rupert talked to Ellis for the Good

Weekend piece, Crikey reported.

“After receiving the story several weeks ago, Whelan this

week decided not to publish – although Crikey said it is unaware whether Fairfax senior executives

or board members were consulted in making the decision. But given its enormous

sensitivity, not to mention the fact that News Limited is currently a 7.5

percent shareholder in Fairfax, it seems almost impossible to believe that most

senior figures at Fairfax were not consulted in the decision to kill the

story,” Crikey wrote

Crikey sought further information this morning from Whelan

but she said she had a strict policy of not commenting on Good Weekend's story

list. Eric Ellis also had a staunch

"no comment,” Crikey reported.

Ellis also declined to comment to Asia Sentinel.