The Madoff media tour is under way.
The purpose of these interviews seems to be two-fold.
One aim is to try and improve their public images, an effort which hinges on whether they can convince skeptics that they knew nothing of Bernard Madoff’s ill-gotten gains, though he was conducting his illegitimate business practically under their proverbial noses.
The other aim is to promote a book in which they apparently have a financial interest. The book is called “Truth and Consequences: Life Inside the Madoff Family.” Just released by Little, Brown & Co., the book was written by a free-lance journalist named Laurie Sandell. It’s kind of an “authorized” biography of the Madoff family since Ruth and Andrew cooperated fully with the author.
This current round of interviews represents the Madoffs’ first public appearances in the nearly three years since Bernard Madoff – Ruth’s husband and Andrew’s father – was arrested for carrying out the biggest fraud in American financial history – a Ponzi scheme that lost an estimated $50-65 billion for thousands of investors.
And, as is usually the case with these choreographed interview tours in support of a new book, the interviews these principals are giving tend to sound similar. Thus, the highlights of the “Today” interview were pretty much in line with what Andrew and Ruth told Morley Safer on “60 Minutes” a day earlier.
Here’s what they told Matt Lauer, according to this story on the NBC News Web site:
Andrew Madoff said he can never forgive his father. “There’s no way to explain what he did, the damage he has caused,” Andrew said. “I try to find it in my heart to forgive him but I’m not there yet.” He said his father writes him letters from prison but the letters lack “sincerity and remorse.”
Andrew explained why the family hasn’t spoken out until now. “From the beginning we have not really been able to speak. We were so vilified by the tabloids.”
For her part, Ruth talked about the now-widely reported suicide attempt. “It just was very spur of the moment,” she said of the attempt, which took place around Christmas 2008. “I think it was my idea more than his,” she said, repeating her assertion from “60 Minutes” that she was “glad” the attempt failed and she woke up the next morning.
And she reemphasized that she has cut off all contact with her husband, to whom she was married for 50 years. “The villain of this tragedy is behind bars,” she said.
Behind the scenes, there’s actually a battle going on between dueling Madoff books. The other one was written by Stephanie Madoff Mack, widow of the other Madoff son, Mark, who committed suicide. Her book – “The End of Normal: A Wife’s Anguish, a Widow’s New Life” – came out earlier this month.