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Following the surprise announcement of Rupert Murdoch's divorce from Wendi Deng this year, everyone began to try and work out what exactly the divorce meant.
Much of the speculation revolved around an allegedly close relationship between Deng and the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair, which was spurred on by a coyly titled article by Murdoch biographer Michael Wolff. The speculation was so rife that Blair's team were forced to release an outright denial of an affair.
This weekend, however, the Daily Mail reignited the rumors with an article titled "Murdoch's feud with Blair over wife Wendi: Friendship came to 'terminal' end over claims of 'multiple encounters' between ex-PM and tycoon's wife." The article claimed that sources close to Murdoch say he was angered as Blair had secretly stayed with Deng at their home a number of times, and that Blair and Deng had enjoyed "multiple encounters."
However, the best part of the article was the following sentence:
There is no suggestion by this newspaper of any impropriety by Mr Blair or Ms Deng .
No, there is definitely no suggestion of "impropriety" during these multiple secret encounters that the Mail reports on. Definitely not.
The Daily Mail is hardly a stranger to innuendo or potentially libelous claims (in fact, they are sometimes quite admirable in their bold attitude to such matters). What this line and its prominent placement hints at the PR war going on behind the scenes here. Much of the reporting in the Mail story clearly comes from sources close to Murdoch, perhaps speaking for him, and Blair's team has been fastidious about contacting media publications and warning them that allegations of an affair are "offensive, defamatory, and actionable."
Wolff alluded to the PR war in a couple of tweets this weekend:
Don't know re sex. But Wendi/Tony in close and often hostile cahoots against Rupert. Lots of ridicule about the old man.— Michael Wolff (@MichaelWolffNYC) November 24, 2013
Sex suggestion may be Rupert camp's strike at Blair over his betrayal. He took Wendi's side against Rupert.— Michael Wolff (@MichaelWolffNYC) November 24, 2013
Deng and Murdoch formally ended their marriage last week. The terms of the split were sealed, and the pair described the split as "amicable."
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