Rupert Murdoch doesn’t get mad, he gets even. Tony Blair is learning that the hard way.
As Orb reported in October, the Aussie media Midas was enraged but remained calm when he found out in early 2013 that Blair was making whoopee with his wife Wendi Deng (behind his back, in his own house). Murdoch divorced her and stopped speaking to Blair. Their betrayal was especially galling because the support of Murdoch’s newspapers had been crucial to the Labour Party victory in 1997 and Blair’s election as Prime Minister.
What went around is now coming around. Sarah Ellison writes in Vanity Fair (January 2015): “In a move that some in the British press interpreted as Murdoch’s way of seeking revenge for Blair’s alleged relationship with his former wife, Murdoch’s Sunday Times revealed in November a £41,000-a-month secret contract [66,000 in dollars] that Blair had signed in 2010 with PetroSaudi International, an oil company founded by a member of the Saudi royal family. The contract included a 2 percent success fee on any deals resulting from introductions he might make—China was very much in mind–and was the first time a detailed contract has surfaced that directly linked Blair to a Middle Eastern oil firm, a tie that the article helpfully noted would ‘provoke fresh criticism of Blair’s role as Middle East envoy’.”
What this means is, while Blair is being highly paid and publicly hailed as the lead negotiator trying to forge a truce in Israel for The Quartet (the U.N., the U.S., the E.U. and Russia), he was furtively brokering oil deals on the side. At the same time, he has been reeling in over $20 million a year as a spin doctor for Third World dictators, such as Nursultan Nazarbayev in Kazakhstan (Blair is “like a pitchman in a late-night infomercial”, VF puts it.)
All very sneaky–not unlike schtupping the wife of the man who got you elected head of government in the United Kingdom. [The great thing about sociopaths is that they are consistent in their perfidy; they don’t reform.]
One of Blair’s earliest and closest associates, now estranged, told VF, “He’s a very curious individual. To him the truth is whatever he perceives it to be at a given moment. I don’t think he’s ever really–I mean, lying. He becomes convinced at the moment he’s saying something that it’s true.” [Ever known anyone like that? I thought so.]
Ms. Ellison minces no words: “Tony Blair has gone from being one of the most popular prime ministers in Great Britain’s history to being one of the most reviled figures in British public life. He is now regarded as a shill for big corporations and deep-pocketed and dubious regimes.”
How is all this playing out? VF says Blair is now worth $150 million, but rarely makes public appearances in London. In 2010, he canceled a party to celebrate the publication of his memoir to avoid the inevitable protestors. He wasn’t invited to the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. In a London restaurant, a waiter attempted a citizen’s arrest of Blair for alleged war crimes in Iraq.
Piling it on, VF says Blair travels nonstop but rarely with his wife Cherie: “His frequent dinners with Ofra Strauss, an Israeli heiress to a bakery fortune, have fueled persistent rumors in the Israeli press of an affair between the two.”
The VF takedown of Tony goes on and on, but here’s the gist: “He is now both physically and emotionally removed from British public life. The allegation of an affair with Wendi Murdoch only hastened that isolation, taking away the array of Murdoch allies who had surrounded him while he was in office.”
Now The Economist has leapt into the fray (12/20). It published a profile titled “The Loneliness of Tony Blair.” The observations are not flattering–“In his home country Blair is reviled”–and the polls are punishing–“Half of Britons think he is a war criminal.”
And the interview he does is a disaster. Asked about the rumors of a romance with Wendi Deng, Blair loses it. He says, “It is not something I will ever talk about.” Then he “bangs his coffee cup so loudly into its saucer that it spills and everyone in the room jumps. A large, dark pool of sweat has suddenly appeared under his armpit, spreading across an expensive blue shirt.”
Poor Tony. They’re hounding him like a cornered rat (which by the way he is beginning to resemble.) It’s not really his fault–those Chinese ladies are so damn irresistible.
But all is not lost: Tony still has his generous Third World despots, and last summer he was “spotted in Sardinia on the smaller of David Geffen’s yachts, the Pelorus.”
The smaller one? Ouch. That is indeed a demotion in status.