Ponzi’s Victims

Gershom Gorenberg

A parable that will lead me to the fall of Bernie Madoff:

My first newspaper job was in the old Jerusalem Post, back when the rag was union-owned, left-of-center, and still one-fourth worthy of being called a newspaper. I wanted to work with words and ideas and politics. I also believed – and still do – in the old fifth-grade civics-lesson mission of a free press. I wouldn’t have considered for a moment being a wordsmith for an ad agency, certainly not one hawking cigarettes, no matter how much more money I could have made. The Jerusalem Post ran front page ads. Some were for cigarettes.

So while I considered journalism a calling, worth more than a big paycheck, I too lived off the scraps from the tables of the tobacco shareholders. I didn’t like it. I could tell myself that were I the boss, I wouldn’t have taken those ads, and that if the cancermongers went broke the next day, the paper would still limp along. But I couldn’t get around the fact that I was a vegetarian living off his uncle the butcher.

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