Yesterday’s parliamentary hearing about the News Corp. hacking scandal focused on the testimonies of Rupert Murdoch, his son James, and former executive Rebekah Brooks. But it was Murdoch’s hot-pink-clad wife, Wendi, who became the day’s biggest celebrity when she defended her husband against a pie-throwing assailant.
Wendi, who lashed out at the attacker with impressively quick reflexes, has become an Internet meme since yesterday’s valiant display—there’s already a fake Wendi "Ninja" Murdoch Twitter account and a Wendi-themed e-card, and she even has her own phrase, “Wendi-Slapped.”
Over in China, Wendi adoration has gone even further. (She was born in China’s Jiangsu province and emigrated to the U.S. in 1987.) According to the Guardian, Wendi is being hailed as a new national role model across the nation. Yesterday’s slap-down was the top story on Sina and other Chinese news portals, where commenters dubbed her a “tiger woman” and “Charlie’s Angel.” She was even credited with boosting News Corp. share prices.
“This adds value to the image of Chinese wives,” said a post on the Weibo microblog. “They have previously proved their ability to cook and run a business. Now they can add bodyguard.”
Other Web commenters on Sina Webo, a Chinese Twitter clone, effused “Deng Wendi is a pearl among women!” and “Mrs. Deng Wendi, you are my idol from now on!”
Many Chinese bloggers—some of whom had viewed Wendi as a gold digger or home-wrecker—said yesterday that Wendi’s actions at the hearing had changed their opinion of her. “I never used to like Deng because I thought she was too materialistic, but I like her now,” said one poster.
Wendi’s booming popularity comes in sharp contrast to the critical coverage of the scandal by Chinese media, which has tried to use it to expose “the inherent money-seeking nature of Western media today,” in the words of an opinion piece from the Xinhua news agency.