The video: Disgraced investor Bernie Madoff and his wife, Ruth, attempted suicide in the wake of the massive public shaming they were subjected to after Madoff's devastating Ponzi scheme was revealed. In a new interview with 60 Minutes that airs this Sunday (watch a preview clip below), and in an interview Wednesday with The New York Times, Ruth says that she and her husband tried to kill themselves on Christmas Eve 2008. That was just two weeks after Bernie confessed to running the largest Ponzi scheme in history — a crime for which he is now serving a 150-year jail sentence. "We decided to kill ourselves because it was so horrendous what was happening," Ruth tells CBS's Morley Safer. "We had terrible phone calls. Hate mail, just beyond anything. And I said, 'I can't. I just can't go anymore." The two attempted to overdose on Ambien and Klonopin, Ruth says, but still woke up the next morning. She told the Times that she was "glad to wake up." And Bernie? "I'm not sure how I felt about him waking up."
The reaction: "One test of the power of your conscience is how much you can sympathize with people who have done terrible things," says Phil Albinus at Advanced Trading. It may be difficult to feel for Ruth Madoff, but it's clear in this interview that "she certainly has suffered." Her husband, on the other hand, says Sasha Brown-Worsham at The Stir, "deserves the worst punishment in the world." He should be forced to suffer "exactly the way he made so many others suffer." An easy out by suicide is "too good" for him. There's also an "obvious possible motive" for Ruth to make this "surprising" confession now, says Niccolo Caldararo at Daily Kos: "Self-promotion." She's trying to humanize her family, while painting them and herself as innocently oblivious to Bernie's crimes. Judge for yourself:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- China's leader is telling the People's Liberation Army to prepare for war
- How I lost all my money
- Why Pakistan won't hunt down the terrorists within its borders
- How to save money: 12 great personal finance tips
- The religious right isn't retreating — it's reforming
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- The best books we read in 2014
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
Subscribe to the Week