Yesterday, I saw where a Bernie Madoff investor agreed to return $7.2 billion of the money paid to her as part of the Ponzi scheme Madoff employed over the past two decades.
While this scam has been described as a $65 billion ripoff, the actual amount invested was closer to $20 billion, with nearly half of the original investments being recovered to date. The other $45 billion were the fictitious gains as part of the scheme.
Along with the reporting of the $65 billion, there were also reports that returns were astronomically high, implying that investors should have known something was up. So, why do the news media continue to call the scheme $65 billion if they think the number is a lie?
The $65 billion was and is a lie. But, that number is way more sexy than $20 billion, as if $20 billion isn’t enough to have a big story.
It seems as though the standard for reporting comes from The National Enquirer with big pictures and partial truths. It seems as though we need to make the story fit the headline, not the other way around.
Another example of this would be the $785 billion bailout of financial institutions, as if the money is gone. It’s not. These were loans, with interest. And, we will recover all but $25 billion, a big number, but a small price to pay compared to the potential cost to the economy. We never heard that reported.
Our news media are always holding everyone’s feet to the fire, except their own. The truth is Madoff took in $20 billion. The truth is investors will recover at least $10 billion. The truth is Madoff funded his lifestyle with other peoples money, but not $65 billion. The truth is Bernie Madoff is in jail for the rest of his life, not 165 years. The truth is the bailout will cost us $25 billion, and probably less, not $785 billion. The truth is hard to find in the news.