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The Daphne Merkin-Bernie Madoff connection, exposed

Daphne Merkin’s brother is J. Ezra Merkin, the financier and Jewish philanthropist who put more than $2 billion of clients’ money into Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, (and collected $470 million in fees for it, according to New York’s attorney general). So when Merkin glossed over this fact in a recent column in the Times, Times public editor Clark Hoyt cried foul:

In the fifth paragraph, Merkin noted parenthetically, “I did not know Mr. Madoff nor did I invest with his firm, but have a sibling who did business with him.” True as far as it goes, but about as forthcoming as saying that Milton Eisenhower had a sibling in the United States Army in World War II. Merkin’s unnamed sibling, her oldest brother, is J. Ezra Merkin, a prominent financier and philanthropist who fed more than $2 billion of clients’ money into Madoff’s scheme, collecting more than $470 million in fees, according to New York’s attorney general,who accused him of civil fraud and sued him last Monday.

Daphne Merkin’s mini-acknowledgment, worked out with her editors at The Times, raised the old question of how much disclosure a newspaper owes its readers so that they can assess a writer’s connections and motives. In this case, the answer seems obvious to me: a lot more.

Full column here.

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