By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Wall Street Journal blew Madoff story

Financial journalist and blogger Gary Weiss has been paying close attention to the congressional testimony of thwarted whistleblower Harry Markopolos — and finds that Markopolos says he tried to interest the Wall Street Journal in the Bernie Madoff story three years ago to no avail.

According to Markopolos, Journal reporter John Wilke was ready to leap in, but could never get clearance from his superiors.

Sickening. (Via Romenesko.)

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  1. Jerry

    Happens a lot. It’s the NIH syndrome – not invented here.

  2. Michael Pahre

    The WSJ has “declined to comment” on Markopolos’s allegations about their senior editors killing the story…On a more general level, I think this raises one of the less-discussed challenges that I’m guessing reporters and editors deal with all-to-often: how to tell apart the super-well-informed-geek-with-an-amazing-scoop from the well-informed-guy-who’s-a-quack-and-nutjob.I’m not sure that it was obvious that Markopolos should have been unquestionably classified in the former camp.Then ask what the reporters/editors can do in initial investigation in order to separate the wheat from the chaff. Call some guys who used to work for Madoff? Those guys tell you that he’s the real deal — while they don’t know absolutely everything about what he does, they know a lot, and it’s really legit in their minds. What do the reporter/editor do then? Call off the story. The source is sounding more like a quack.But were they doing the right kind of initial investigation?

  3. Ani

    Michael Pahre,Why would an initial investigation depend on what other people said about Madoff and not on evidence such as suspiciously regular high returns? Don’t tell me that it’s easier to pick up the phone than to think!

  4. O-FISH-L

    Dan, your total failure to criticize Bill Clinton’s SEC, guilty of far more grievous malfeasance than the WSJ in this case, incriminates you on a charge of liberal bias. Sure, three years ago the WSJ should have but didn’t. Still, newspapers fail to act on tips many times a day, sometimes to their chagrin. Big deal. The shocker involving Mr. Markopolos’ attempt to blow the whistle on Madoff is that in 2000, the SEC, by then entirely under the control of President Clinton, turned away Mr. Markopolos with a baseball analogy. Again, this was some six years before the WSJ rebuffed him. Thankfully we have Jerry Kronenberg at the Herald to report it.“’In 2000, (a U.S. Securities and Exchange commission official) warned me that the relationship between the New York and Boston SEC offices was about as warm and friendly as the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry and that New York doesn’t like to receive tips from Boston,’ Whitman resident Harry Markopolos testified today before Congress.”

  5. Tunder

    Nah-nah, boo-boo, Dan. You’ve been “incriminated” by O-Fish of having a liberal bias. Thank goodness we have an outstanding newspaper like the Herald to balance your left-wing lunacy.It is clear that Bill Clinton is personally to blame for the Madoff mess and that the WSJ was right in blowing off a potentially HUGE story. I think O-Fish forgot to mention that, just like the Globe is in the tank for Obama, the WSJ editors have been and always will be in the tank for the powerbrokers on Wall Street.

  6. lkcape

    Interesting that The New York Times didn’t get the story either. But them’s the breaks.I am sure Mr. Sultzberger and Mr. Madoff both knew each other and did business with each other.

  7. Rachel

    The SEC has been an absolute shambles for years and an agency that has absolutely no interest in sharing vital information with the general public. I say this as a financial reporter and one who has covered conflicts-of-interest investigations into the pension consultants industry.

  8. O-FISH-L

    Tunder, I didn’t say the WSJ was right, just that they were within their rights. Clinton’s SEC, failing to act because of an inter-city rivalry? Not so much. Sort of reminds one of Jamie Gorelick’s “wall of separation” that undermined national security during and after that same Clinton administration.

  9. Dunwich

    I know it’s privileged information but it would be nice to know what kind of briefings Bush was receiving just prior to the Bank meltdown?

  10. Museum Ethics Controversy

    Major newspapers (with the apparent exception of the National Post in Canada) have also blown numerous chances to expose a scandal involving a six-million-dollar exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls, consisting of propaganda created by a group of Christian “bible scholars” and traveling around from one “science” museum to another. For details, see

  11. O'Reilly

    Dan, your total failure to criticize Bill Clinton’s SEC, guilty of far more grievous malfeasance than the WSJ in this case, incriminates you on a charge of liberal bias.If Dan had written a story you might have point but since he merely referred his readers to a live blogging account of Harry’s Congressional testimony, then your accusation is the “total failure” and at the same time another silly rant from our favorite wing nut. We’ve had eight years of “Clinton did it too” from Bush apologists. (You guys earned your pay, eh?) Time to compare with Bush’s administration. How did the Bush SEC perform?

  12. O-FISH-L

    O’Reilly, who gave you the conch that you might speak for the group with “our favorite” this and “our favorite” that? Or do you have someone in your pocket?Dan needn’t write the story, the fact that he chose to steer us to one and not the other, is what’s revealing.I considered giving him a pass because this is most often a media site, but his marquee does say, “The press, POLITICS (my emphasis)…” It appears that today Dan focused on a certain press outlet for a Madoff related venial sin while allowing a regulatory commission, appointed by a certain ex-politician, a free pass on a mortal one. Just a tad incongruous, no?

  13. mike_b1

    Those SEC guys are all Republicans, Fishy. You’re complaining about your brothers.

  14. Dan Kennedy

    It’s nice to see that the Republicans have finally moved on to “It’s Clinton’s fault.” Twenty-five years of “It’s Carter’s fault” were getting tiresome.

  15. Dave Moriarty

    very good stuff herei ran into site that chronicles the whole madoff fraud and ponzi schemes elsewhere as well as articles about the impact of the fraud on the investment bis of good stuff aggregated there

  16. doctorswift

    Dan–If you’re interested in this story you should get after Emily Rooney who ran a scandalously superficial segment on this on her show yesterday. It seemed clear that none of the participants had read any of Markopolous’s memos (where, among other things, he specifically says he isn’t looking for a bounty), and all were smugly confident that Markopolous’s claim that he tried to interest the press was bogus, with no mention of this WSJ story. What ever happened to respect fot facts? I’m a big fan of Emily’s show, but I don’t know now.

  17. Virginia Hoge

    The fact that the Wall Street Journal is trying really hard to deny this, including cover-up, shows what an insider this “news”paper has been for a long time.This is a very important part of the evolving Madoff scandal, what role DID the Wall Street Journal play?Another question, why is Emily Rooney protecting them?

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