Many of my Facebook friends are also former colleagues from my working days in corporate America. One of them is Larry Henriques, who is married to a reporter that works at the New York Times (NYT). Larry’s wife is an incredible person. In addition to her work as a financial journalist and investigative reporter, Diana Henriques is also the author of Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust, which was recently made into an HBO film starring Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer.
In the classic “fact meets fiction” motif, Diana is also cast in the film – as herself. And this is where I thought Barry Levinson, the director, scored an “A”. For the Times, Diana investigated into and wrote about Madoff’s Ponzi scheme when it first came to light. After Madoff was sentenced and sent to prison, she was the first journalist to interview him in jail. I can only imagine the sense of déjà vu she must have felt when she recreated that interview for the film. In Wizard of Lies, when she interviews De Niro acting as Madoff, she is totally believable. But more than that, I found her to be a sensitive interviewer, one who did not get aggressive, angry, or emotional to extract information from her subject. It proves interviewers can obtain information without all the antics of anger we so often see in reporters today.
In both filmdom and reality, Diana is able to get Madoff to share information inside his head, information that shows us how a sociopath thinks, such as a comment Madoff made about “Wall Street making him the scapegoat for the market crash.” An actress in that role would not have shown the finesse and sensitivity that this real-life reporter displayed. Sociopaths, such as Madoff, are also the kind of people who will keep working and feel no emotion when awful things happen to other people, such as the attack on the World Trade Center – and Madoff knew people who worked in the WTC. Yet he continued sitting at his desk, ignoring the unspeakable horror happening to his friends.
People say “stranger than fiction” – Diana Henriques embodies what it is like to be better than fiction. And the world is a better place for it. Today, join me in raising a glass to a classy, fearless lady.
Until next time!