Forbes removes Commerce secretary Ross from billionaires list
Dan Alexander of Forbes discloses the magazine’s past reporting that led it to inflate the worth of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
Alexander writes, “A huge score, yes, though not nearly enough to be one of the 400 richest people in America. But when a Forbes reporter reached out to Ross, apparently crediting him with his investors’ money, the future commerce secretary did nothing to clarify the situation, according to notes at the time.
“‘I just spoke to Ross,’ the reporter wrote. ‘He’s one of the easiest new guys I’ve put on [The Forbes 400] in a while. Very low-key, said he didn’t really want to be on, but at the same time wasn’t going to fight success. He says he doesn’t want to juice up his numbers at all.’
“‘I told him we’re going to start him at $1 billion,’ added the reporter, who no longer works at Forbes . ‘And he said ‘Yep, fine, thank you.’ ‘
“Ross appeared on The Forbes 400 for the first time in 2004, with a net worth listed at $1 billion. It was nearly four times as much as he was likely worth. “‘Everyone that I knew that worked with Wilbur knew it wasn’t true,’ says a former colleague of Ross. A legend was born, and like most legends, this one had its roots in a myth.”
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