Jacob Heilbrunn

Rupert Murdoch's Smack Down Sister: Wendi Deng

It became clear during yesterday's United Kingdom parliamentary hearing, or, if you prefer, inquisition, who the only hope for the survival of the Murdoch family's fortune has become. While Rupert faltered and James, the dauphin, retreated behind a lawerly carapace, one heroine emerged, Wendi Deng Murdoch, the newly christened "smack down sister" of China. China, it seems, and much of the rest of the world is going nuts—Katie Couric tweeted, "“Wow wendy murdoch giving whole new meaning to the term tiger mother...insanity!”

—over Wendi's belting of the intruder who tried to smush a shaving cream pie into her hubby's face. It was, you could say, a close shave.

Wendi, who grew up in Guangzhou, was having none of it. The video footage shows the former volleyball player leaping to defend her husband like a lioness. Labor MP Tom Watson told Murdoch, "Your wife has a very good left hook." And so anyone contemplating further pie attacks against Murdoch is now on notice. Meanwhile, poor James could only look on in stupefaction, while Mommy, or stepmommy, rescued his old man.

Here's my take: If Rupert has any sense he will immediately divest James of any responsbility for News Corp and hand the whole shebang over to Wendi. She clearly wants control. And it's clear that he has a weakness for tough women, otherwise he would never have installed Rebekah Brooks. So he might as well give Wendi a shot. Her name Wen Ge, the Chicago Tribune says, is shorthand for "cultural revolution." She could carry one out at News Corp, for sure. But that's precisely what the pooh-bahs at the company fear.

Vanity Fair's Michael Wolff observed to the Telegraph that company executives

"have always tried to keep her out of the way and the kids have tried to keep her at bay."

A few years ago, several news reports said that she had battled Murdoch's adult children to secure a voting position for her children in the family trust, which holds the Murdoch stake in News Corp, worth billions of dollars.

"She reminds me in a certain way of Rupert himself. She is out to do what she wants to do," Wolff said, adding, "That really makes you someone to be reckoned with and someone who ultimately seems quite fearless."

To protect what is left of his brand, Rupert is going to have to go outside the family gene pool. Two generations of Murdochs is enough. And Prime Minister David Cameron must be looking on enviously. Where can he find his own smack down sister to defend him?

Image by David Shankbone