Taking many media watchers by surprise yesterday afternoon was the news that Rupert Murdoch and third wife Wendi Deng had split, and that Rupe had filed for divorce. What makes this Murdoch item different to much that has gone before, including Phonehackgate, is that his own media empire has reported it, but only in a way which will duly benefit the bottom line.
Why the breakdown might have happened has, to no surprise, caused the media Speculatron to be fired up, and it has now entered a truly warp drive phase. There are, though, pointers from previous glimpses into the occasionally stormy relationship, the storm part coming from Ms Deng’s short temper, her domineering attitude to her children – and Rupe – and her appalling selfishness.
So now the lawyers are picking over the remains of Murdoch’s third marriage, and one thing they will not have to look too far to figure out is that Wendi Deng and the kids do not have any voting shares in Rupe’s empire. Nor will any of them be involved in the succession when the Dirty Digger finally calls it a day, or is caused so to do. Maybe that didn’t exactly help with her short fuse.
What, then, of the reporting? The BBC and Guardian play it with a straight bat, giving the facts and making sure we are reminded of the recent occasion when Ms Deng came to Rupe’s rescue when he was attacked during a Commons committee hearing, administering what ‘Enery would in years gone by have called a “good right ‘and” to not really comedy turn Jonathan May-Bowles.
The HuffPost, on the other hand, stresses in a brief report that “early indications are the divorce will not impact the 82-year-old’s media holdings”. The Mail mentions the upcoming split of the newspaper part of the Murdoch empire from the film and TV interests, and also noted that the share price held steady yesterday. And this is the angle stressed by Murdoch’s own media outlets.
A brief report in the Sun ended with the firm assertion “A News Corp spokesman said the divorce will have ‘zero impact’ on the firm”. And, although their report was rather longer, Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse) noted “Markets appeared to be unfazed by the announcement. After starting the day in negative territory, News Corp.'s widely traded non-voting shares were up 6 cents at $31”.
Fox also stressed that Murdoch’s four eldest children retain their powers in determining the future of News Corp. So that’s the approved message, folks: never mind that the boss is filing for divorce, it’s business as usual, and there’s no reason to rock the boat, especially with the separation of businesses just around the corner. Rupe, the wily old pro, has once again done his homework superbly.
Nothing gets in the way of the Murdoch empire. Not even marriage.