Late last month, the New York Times published an op-ed by Daphne Merkin, a contributing writer to the Times Magazine, on the Bernie Madoff mess. The curious premise of the piece seemed to be that Madoff's "victims" (the quote marks are Merkin's) aren't really blameless, since "no one was holding a gun to anyone's head, saying sign up with Mr. Madoff or else."
The argument seemed tendentious at best -- but there was a bigger problem. As numerous bloggers quickly pointed out, Merkin's parenthetical disclosure -- "I did not know Mr. Madoff nor did I invest with his firm, but have a sibling who did business with him" -- didn't come anywhere close to fully informing readers about her personal tie to the case.
That sibling is Ezra Merkin, the financier and former chairman of GMAC, who was the second-largest institutional investor in Madoff's funds, losing billions of other people's money. In a civil suit filed this week by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, Ezra Merkin, who collected over $40 million from Madoff's funds, was charged with "betraying hundreds of investors" by lying to them about how much of their money he had invested with Madoff, and by failing to disclose conflicts of interest.