July 20th, 2011
08:08 AM GMT
(CNN) – Who would have guessed the day after James and Rupert Murdoch testified before a UK parliamentary committee, we’d be talking about Wendi?
And yet, here we are. The “slap heard round the world” is the talk of the town (or at least of Twitter). And so is Rupert Murdoch’s third wife Wendi Deng, who batted away the protester who tried to throw a shaving cream pie at her husband – reacting even faster than security guards.
U.S. news anchor Katie Couric tweets: “Wow wendy murdoch giving whole new meaning to the term tiger mother...insanity!.”
This from comedian Andy Borowtiz: “After today's #Murdoch hearings, British politicians are no longer afraid of Rupert, but are terrified by Wendi.”
And more from the public. Some funny, some not (and some downright offensive.) A Wendi Deng fan club on Facebook now has over 700 fans.
China's netizens have been weighing in on Sina Weibo, a popular microblogging site. They praise her "fast reflexes, speed, courage and decisiveness," even posting comments on her official Weibo page.
Even before the slap, it was hard not to notice Deng. Sitting directly behind the two Murdoch men, her every expression was broadcast to the world during wide shots of the proceedings. At one point, she appears to lean forward to stop her husband as he repeatedly slapped the table during his testimony.
More than one woman I know noticed the color choice: her pink jacket and polka-dot skirt standing out in the sea of suits at the hearing. I wonder now if that discussion, and the apparent glee people are taking in her physical defense of her husband, is tinged with a bit of sexism. Would we be so shocked in James had batted away the pie-plate attacker?
The commentary hints of racism and sexism: for example, the tweets and headlines that refer to Deng as a ninja or tiger mom (the UK phone-hacking scandal has nothing to do with ethnicity and Rupert Murdoch is hardly her cub.)
Still, in this sort of political theater, it’s hard to imagine the outfits and the seating plan were all not chosen with some degree of care. Deng , shown front and center, providing support and a sympathetic face. Putting her in this position does create a space for fair comment on her role and behavior at the hearings, much like political wives who campaign for their husbands.
I’ll be the first to admit that the pie-throwing incident is a distraction and a sideshow from a serious investigation into illegal acts and corporate misdeeds. But distracting it is – turning a political and corporate drama into something a bit more like a farce.
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