OLD Media Moves

Did the Wall Street Journal miss the Madoff story?

February 4, 2009

Conde Nast Portfolio contribuing editor Gary Weiss writes on his blog that The Wall Street Journal had a chance to uncover the Bernie Madoff investment scam back in 2005 but passed, according to congressional testimony.

Weiss writes, “A bombshell is buried in Harry Markopolos’ prepared testimony to a House panel today: he contacted the Wall Street Journal on the Bernie Madoff fraud three years ago, and the newspaper did nothing.

“It seems that the Journal missed an opportunity to achieve one of the biggest scoops in financial history, win a Pulitzer Prize and all that other good stuff — and extinguish the biggest fraud in financial history.

“Markpolos says as follows:

‘Pat Burns, communications director at Taxpayers Against Fraud] put me in contact with John Wilke, senior investigative reporter for the Wall Street Journal’s Washington bureau. Mr. Wilke and I would become friends over the next three years. Unfortunately, as eager as Mr. Wilke was to investigate the Madoff story, it appears that the Wall Street Journal’s editors never gave him approval to start investigating. As you will see from my extensive e-mail correspondence with him over the next several months, there were several points in time in which he was getting ready to book air travel to start the story and then would get called off at the last minute. I never determined if the senior editors at the Wall Street Journal failed to authorize this investigation.’

“According to his timeline, he contacted the Journal in December 2005.

“At another point in his testimony, Markopolos pays the Journal the ultimate non-compliment by lumping together the newspaper with the lunkheads at the SEC, saying, ‘Unfortunately neither the Wall Street Journal nor SEC were inclined to even pick up a phone and dial any of the leads I provided to them.'”

Read more here.

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