Ooo, baby it’s cold outside. And it was especially chilly this morning outside
Bernie Ruth Madoff’s apartment building on the corner of East 64th Street at Lexington Avenue. The sidewalks and streets were loaded with no less than ten news trucks, rows of camera crews, still photographers and reporters from the New York Daily News, New York Post, CNBC, Fox News etc. Uptown, I sauntered over at 8:30a.m. to observe and become part of the pack. But mostly, I observed the pack.
According to reporters in the area, Bernie Madoff left the building at 7am. Metal police barricades were neatly stacked off the beaten path by the time I arrived since there was no need for crowd control or security. Doormen stood by their posts, greeted passersby good morning and overall, the mood was cordial, almost celebratory despite the cold wind in the air.
As I stood by, snapping pics of the technical crews, I was struck by the number of people who were more than willing to take a moment to voice their opinions “on the record, on camera” about the Prince of Ponzi. On top of that, they eagerly offered their names and telephone numbers for “verification,” if needed.
In the end, the adventure offered a reality check in the journalistic ethics department. One “character” approached a camera man and professed a loss of $25 million yet he refused to relay his real name. “I’m sorry for your loss,” said I. But was he a credible source? Not without a name. An older woman with a slavic accent pulled me aside and told me that she had “shocking news,” something she really wanted to share. It had nothing to do with Madoff but people would be amazed. She asked for my card. I gave it to her. She hasn’t called yet though she did tell me her name. Why not tell me her concern at that point? And what would she gain by sharing her story. What’s in it for her? Honestly, what’s up with people?
Reporting a story, while seen threw the lens of the reporter/storyteller is to do just that and offer a fair, objective lens for readers/viewers to take in the news. Please, don’t ask me to do anything but that, I won’t. Otherwise, I’m the one who loses face. Why would I do that?
By midmorning, as we all know, Madoff pleaded guilty and U.S. District Judge Denny Chin ordered that the Upper East Sider be sent directly to jail where he will wait until June 16, the scheduled date of sentencing. Bye bye Bernie. Hello Ruth.