The USA Today headline proclaims:
Madoff ordered to forfeit $170B
And the first line of the article says “Diisgraced financier Bernard Madoff has been ordered to forfeit over $170 billion, prosecutors said Friday.” Yes, they really did spell it “Diisgraced”.
But the “bigger” point is that if Madoff actually had $170 billion to forfeit, that would have made him the richest person in the world (Bill Gates, who currently holds that title, is only worth $40 billion).
And to give you an idea of how inbred our media actually is, both the New York Times and CNN use the same bad number. Even the investors in Madoff’s Ponzi scheme lost only $13 billion (but still a staggering sum).
How do we explain this glaring mistake? Is billion the new million? Or did the media just use the same accounting techniques as Madoff did?
Actually, we know where they got this number. The Department of Justice (scroll down to Page 6) lists the judgement against Madoff as $170,000,000,000 (what’s a few decimal places between friends?).