Would the Madoffs do us all a favor and shut up?
Nearly three years after the exposure of the biggest Ponzi scheme in American history, the family’s gone all gabby on us, determined to share their feelings.
What about our feelings? What about the feelings of the people who lost a big chunk of their life savings when $65 billion was found missing from the stock accounts that Bernie was fraudulently managing?
The Madoff media moment is, of course, driven by money—the cash to be earned by peddling books about the tragedy.
I don’t blame news organizations for interviewing members of the clan. There’s plenty of public interest in what they have to say, an inherent curiosity about the impact on those who were closest to the epicenter of this monstrous crime. But I’m already tired of family members who benefited from the scam trying to generate sympathy for themselves, when the real victims are those who were fleeced.
So we have Madoff’s wife Ruth telling 60 Minutes that she and hubby almost checked out after being exposed.
“I don’t remember whose idea it was. We decided to kill ourselves because it was so horrendous what was happening. We had terrible phone calls, hate mail just beyond anything and I said I can't, I just can't go on anymore.” But somehow they survived. And Ruth Madoff, you may recall, lived the high life, with houses in Palm Beach and the south of France, thanks to her hubby’s ill-gotten gains.
Not that Bernie Madoff is suffering in silence. Diana Henriques, the New York Times reporter whose book on the family is being featured Sunday on 60 Minutes, chatted him up for the paper. From the prison where he’s serving a 150-year sentence—not long enough, in my view—the Ponzi perpetrator attempted to shift blame to the people who trusted him with their money.
“They had to know,” Madoff said. “But the attitude was sort of, ‘If you’re doing something wrong, we don’t want to know.’ ”
Barbara Walters came away with a different impression from her jailhouse interview (no cameras allowed). “Remorse, he has terrible remorse,” she said on Good Morning America. “He knows that he ruined his family. During the day, he doesn’t think about it. He’s had therapy.”
I certainly hope he’s working out his issues.
The only one who stirs my sympathy is Stephanie Madoff Mack, whose husband—Bernie’s son Mark—committed suicide last year. “I hate Bernie Madoff,” she told Chris Cuomo on 20/20. "If I saw Bernie Madoff right now, I would tell him that I hold him fully responsible for killing my husband, and I'd spit in his face."
Was her late husband shocked by the criminal enterprise, as she says? Who knows? Stephanie has her own book coming out.
I have the sense that the Madoffs are scrambling to peddle their tales after a long period of silence because each one is doing damage control as the family comes apart at the seams. What a sorry spectacle.
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