Rupert Murdoch comes across pretty much exactly how you’d imagine him to in Michael Wolff’s book, excerpted by Vanity Fair this month: Crotchety, crafty, gossipy, old-mannishly racist (“there was the moment, one afternoon, when … he was propounding the genetic theory that the basic problem of the Muslim people was that they married their cousins”), but also a wee bit likable and cuddly: When Murdoch talks to his kids, Wolff confesses to getting “misty” — which is icky for Wolff, but touching for Murdoch. And then there’s the awesome, mid-life-crisis-y relationship between Rupert and his 39-year-old wife, Wendi Deng, with which we are of course kind of obsessed. The article doesn’t tell us if they do it and if so, how — not that we’re interested or anything because that would be gross — but it does color in a few more details of a marriage in which “pillow talk, one might suspect, is business.”
• Such as the fact that Rupert’s 90-year-old mother doesn’t approve, because she’s still pining for his first wife, Anna, whom he divorced in 2000: “I remember saying to Rupert, ‘Rupert, you’re going to be very, very lonely and the first desiring female who comes along will snap you up,’” she grumbled to Wolff. “He said, ‘Don’t be ridiculous, Mum, I’m far too old for that.’ That’s exactly what happened. Never mind.” Heh.
• And that because of Wendi, Rupert has started dyeing his hair orange or “sometimes aubergine” at home, over the sink, “because he doesn’t want anybody to know.”
• Then there’s the fact that Rupes was “too scared or guilty” to tell Wendi that he had made a legal agreement with his ex-wife that barred Grace and Chloe, their kids, from having any voting stake in News Corp., and instead let it slip during an interview in 2006 on Charlie Rose precipitating “a marital battle that is still a legend at News Corp.”
• And that because Wendi has made him new young friends like Bono and Tony Blair and the Google guys and Nicole Kidman and David Geffen and Mark Zuckerberg and, of course, J-Vanka, he seems to be becoming disenchanted with big ol’ Roger Ailes.
All told, Wolff says, Wendi’s influence seems to be making him more liberal. Will there be a hybrid convertible and spliff-smoking, bongo-playing session with Matthew McConaughey in Rupes’s future? We can only dream.
Tuesdays with Rupert [VF]