In a world whose main currency was having Rupert's ear, Wendi had altered the balance of power, to the consternation of executives and family. There followed the orange hair; the Prada suits; the kooky diets. And there was the discordant Wendi voice: not just her accent, widely mocked, but her straightforwardness: her mentioning Rupert's Viagra in Vanity Fair; and her own often hilarious jibs, complete with mimicry, albeit with a Chinese accent, at the other members of Murdoch family.
What to do about Wendi became a major corporate and family preoccupation – and a constant worry for Murdoch himself. Buying the most expensive apartment in New York and having her decorate it was one of Murdoch's strategies to keep her busy. Encouraging her to produce movies was another. Still, he liked being with her. In public, he would take her hand. She became a key aide during his 2007 takeover of the Wall Street Journal.
At least one intimate judged that an abiding concern for Rupert in the 2008 and 2009 period was holding his marriage together – that it was an issue for him of pride. It was important for him not to fail at what everyone said would fail. The winds and cross currents between them were very strong with almost nobody, in the family or in the company, ready to say if they were becoming closer or growing further apart. Not least of all because Rupert, trying to cater to all the various interests of his court, often told people what they wanted to hear.
Vacationing with Barry Diller and Diane Von Furstenberg on Diller's yacht, they appeared to be deeply in love. Not long afterwards, he told his son Lachlan it was over. At some point, Wendi's base of social gravity moved from the media set – David Geffen, Barbara Walters, Ivanka Trump, Arianna Huffington, Graydon Carter – to a different jet set. Dasha Zhukova, the girlfriend of Russian Oligarch Roman Abramovich, and Larry Gagosian, the international art dealer, became her close friends and business partners.
An article in the New York Times quoted sources described as friend's of Wendi as saying she was living more and more an independent life. In fact, she was, trying to hold on to her life, while Rupert, in the company of trainers and message therapists, seemed to be more and more removed from her.
Wendi had made a particular enemy of Joel Klein, the lawyer and News Corp executive who more and more was Rupert's closest corporate confidant and one of the company's chief plotters. What's more, the most damaging results of the hacking scandal for Murdoch had been an increasing breach with his children and an urgency, on his part, to calm the internecine feuding. Wendi, again, was the odd person out, even the expendable one in the Murdoch family.
Interesting how Wendi managed to survive all the various plotters in the Murdoch circle until Joel Klein became Rupert's closest corporate confidant.
Michael Wolff describes Klein as one of News Corporations' "chief plotters" and Wendi as an "enemy" of Klein's.
You have to wonder what poison Klein whispered into Rupert's ear to help move Murdoch toward divorce.
Maybe Wendi Deng took out the wrong guy at the Parliament hearing when she defended her husband against a man attacking him with shaving cream.
Maybe Klein was the real enemy.