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'Nightly News' Pushes Auto Bailout in Madoff Scandal Coverage

Even in a story about Wall Street scandal, NBC found time to promote a bailout of the auto industry.

 

The Dec. 17 “NBC Nightly News” went out of its way to put the amount of Bernard Madoff’s alleged $50 billion fraudulent Ponzi scheme in perspective for its viewers, by comparing it to the proposed $14 billion auto bailout.

Even in a story about Wall Street scandal, NBC found time to promote a bailout of the auto industry.

 

The Dec. 17 “NBC Nightly News” went out of its way to put the amount of Bernard Madoff’s alleged $50 billion fraudulent Ponzi scheme in perspective for its viewers, by comparing it to the proposed $14 billion auto bailout.

 

“A week ago, no one knew his name,” “Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams said. “He was a wealthy New Yorker with a place on Park Avenue and another in Palm Beach. Now his name has become a kind of built-in perverse joke: Bernie Madoff made off with $50 billion worth of money his investors thought they had – more accurately, it disappeared, it’s alleged, in a Ponzi scheme. One man, to put it another way, lost more money than the Big Three Detroit automakers are asking for in a bailout.”

 

CNBC’s Trish Regan, co-host of “The Call,” reiterated Williams same point – that the $50 billion pales in comparison to the Big Three automaker bailout that many in Congress and the United Auto Workers have been lobbying the American taxpayer for.

 

“Today, as the now-infamous hedge fund investor Bernie Madoff returned home to house arrest, where he will wear an ankle bracelet, fresh questions surfaced as to how the Securities and Exchange Commission could miss an alleged Ponzi scheme of such huge proportions – $50 billion, twice the amount of money the auto companies are asking Congress for, now gone.”

 

While Madoff’s dishonesty, if true, is inexcusable, the $50 billion people are talking about may have never really actually existed, according to Andy Kessler's piece in Forbes magazine Dec. 16.

 

“But still, that doesn’t explain the fraud,” Kessler wrote. “OK, Madoff has left us some hints as to why. The first clue is that there isn't $50 billion sitting in some numbered Swiss bank account. In fact, it probably isn’t a $50 billion fraud. There seem to be lots of problems with Madoff and numbers. The only facts we know are the claims of $17 billion in assets in his money management business, according to his filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.”

 

“The market is down 40%, so perhaps there should be $11 billion left,” Kessler continued. “Some of his customers, mainly hedge fund-of-funds and European banks, would use 3:1 leverage to magnify Madoff's ‘steady’ returns, hence the $50 billion claim.”

 

So according to Kessler, he didn’t actually steal $50 billion – it was lost, on paper, and is far different from the actual dollars needed by the big three automakers as a “bridge loan.”

 

“So as far as we know, he didn’t steal the $50 billion/$11 billion – he probably just lost it,” Kessler wrote. “He might have built a trading powerhouse, but he was god-awful as an investor.”