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Wendi Deng: Tiger Mom From Hell

I thought she was a nice, submissive Asian woman. "A former household staffer and tutor for Rupert Mudoch and Wendi Deng's children is speaking out for the first time about the relentless nightmare that is working for the Murdochs: Screaming tantrums, nannies discarded by the side of the road on a whim, no benefits, unpaid overtime, young girls body-shamed by their mother—and near abandonment for workers injured on the job. Ying-Shu Hsu spent more than year as a full-time Chinese tutor and nanny to Rupert Murdoch and Wendi Deng's daughters, Chloe and Grace. Six years ago, while holding then 2-year-old Chloe in her arms, she tripped over a tricycle in the Murdochs' Beverly Hills home and fractured her knee, causing permanent damage. Unable to work and cut off from workers' compensation benefits owing to the Murdochs' shoddy paperwork, Hsu was sent packing with a severance payment and told never to contact the family again. She sued the Murdochs unsuccessfully for damages in 2007 (the lawsuit has never been previously reported), and has never been able to work since. She lives off Social Security now. Hsu's saga began in December 2004, when the 69-year-old lifelong educator (she'd previously managed a daycare in Queens) answered a want-ad for a Chinese-language tutor. She had no idea that her potential employers would be Murdoch, the media mogul worth an estimated $8 billion, and his Chinese wife of five years, Wendi Deng. She was originally hired to teach Grace and Chloe how to read and write in their mother's native language—a 40-hour-a-week, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. gig that required frequent travel with the family to the Murdochs' Beverly Hills estate and Arizona compound. But the job quickly metastasized into childcare. "Basically, the nanny didn't do well, and Wendi told me to do this extra stuff that I wasn't supposed to do," Hsu told me in an an interview translated by her son. The Murdochs had a household staff of roughly seven or eight in New York, she told me: two secretaries, one cook, two housekeepers, a nanny, a tutor, and one part-time laundry person. Working for Wendi, Hsu said, was like being in a "war zone": "Everyone who works for her hates her and is scared of her," she said. "When she's there, it's like a war zone." Deng's public image is hardly demure. She came to international fame a year ago when she landed a swift and merciless blow on a protester who threw a pie at her husband during his testimony before Parliament. And given her facility with bending older married men to her will—her first husband was a married man whose family sponsored her student visa; she was 21 at the time—she has often been described as a conniving man-eater. Deng was given to profanity-laced outbursts for seemingly minor affronts, Hsu said, often in front of her daughters. "She had a very bad temper and would get angry very easily. Once, when we were leaving the house, I forgot to bring a hair clip for one of the girls, and Wendi yelled at me. So I ran back into the house to get it, but I got the wrong one. Wendi threw it on the ground in front of the girls and everyone." On another occasion, Hsu says, after a housekeeper turned on the baseboard heating at the Murdochs' Arizona compound against Deng's orders, "she went nuts—yelling, cursing." "She would curse like that in front of the kids," Hsu said. (That comports with what Deng told British Vogue last year: "We don't talk to them like babies. They know all about the phone hacking.") "Everyone who works for [Wendi] hates her and is scared of her." The most drastic example of Deng's abusive behavior that Hsu could recall was the time she kicked an instransigent nanny out her chauffeur-driven car. "One of the nannies made a mistake in the car, and Wendi told the chauffeur to stop the car and told the nanny to get out and then drove off. She has a hot temper." Hsu, who couldn't recall the nature of the nanny's grievous error, said the woman considered suing the Murdochs over the incident but never did."


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