The trial of some of Rupert Murdoch\’s close associates, accused of telephone hacking, bribery, obstruction of justice and conspiracy, is now underway in London, threatening to expose ever-deeper veins of skulduggery in Murdoch\’s company. Surely a low point in his 60-year career.
And yet, Murdoch is telling people he may never have been happier in his life.
This is partly because he believes that he and his family have largely beaten the rap. But it is also a personal trait of Murdoch\’s, being able to write off the past, with both finesse and brutality. And for everything to turn out well for him.
His personal life, his work life and his family life, despite the threat of hackinggate, have all come into alignment. At 82, he believes he has set the stage for another 15 years.
Hackinggate rather seems to have given him the impetus, in some Godfather fashion, to settle scores and take care of business so he can get on with the next chapter of his epochal story.
First, he dealt with the long-standing friction of his marriage. Try as he might, for the 15 years he\’s been married to Wendi Deng, 39 years his junior, he has never wholly managed to effect a rapprochement between her and his adult children, who are, for Murdoch, the tent poles of his life. At the same time, he has found it hard to admit that his marriage was in difficulty, even as he and Deng increasingly lived apart.
It was Deng\’s telling moment in the sun — stepping between Murdoch and a pie wielder when he was called, two years ago, to testify about hacking before Parliament — that he has told friends crystallized his anger. He realized he did not want her protecting him now — making him look old, he felt, and weak — or his legacy later.
With the encouragement of his children, he began to plan his exit — his resolve aided by his closer monitoring of her personal life. In June, acting on new reports about her involvement with Google\’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, he summarily ended his marriage — to no one\’s greater surprise than his wife\’s.
His own hurt feelings have been soothed by a new romantic interest, a younger woman who has been traveling with him — his massage therapist — who, he has told friends, has made him very happy.