Fox News, Wall Street Journal Ignore Reformed Fraud Expert's New Problems

››› ››› JOE STRUPP

LA Weekly, an alternative tabloid based in southern California, has a lengthy piece out on fraud expert Barry Minkow, who has made a career out of being an expert on such crimes after overcoming his own criminal career.

The newspaper notes that news outlets such as Fox News and The Wall Street Journal had used Minkow's expertise as recently as last spring, but failed to note his recent problems, including a reported SEC investigation.

The story states:

Minkow went to prison for seven years. Afterward, he sought to redeem himself. He became a minister and a fraud fighter, helping the FBI and starting a company dedicated to rooting out corporate wrongdoing. Heartened by the turn of events, some of the nation's largest news organizations have been all too eager to do major stories in recent years on the redemption of Pastor Minkow -- which is why the truth about him today is so maddening.

Tens of thousands of pages of court records going back nearly two years show that Minkow is again not to be trusted. He is leveling unproven allegations against major companies, driving their stock prices down and profiting by doing so.

A Miami judge in one of those cases says Minkow has no credibility, that he "will lie, plain and simple." Since January, the Securities and Exchange Commission has been looking into Minkow's activities.

In an interview with the L.A. Weekly, Minkow acknowledged that he has been a "horrible defendant in the case" in Miami, which is a lawsuit that one of the nation's largest home builders filed against Minkow after he accused the company of massive wrongdoing. Minkow said the Miami judge is right in "thinking I'm an ass."

But you would never know about the challenges to his credibility if you rely on the journalists who helped create Barry Minkow 2.0. To their readers and viewers, Minkow is still an upstanding Christian fraud-buster. (Click here for the interview.)

Mark Maremont, a Pulitzer Prize-winning senior editor at The Wall Street Journal, praised Minkow for his fraud-discovery unit and came to rely on him as a source for investigative stories. But after Maremont learned in January that Minkow was once again the subject of SEC scrutiny, he never wrote a word about it.

In a flattering 2005 profile on 60 Minutes, Minkow detailed how he manipulated the media and even duped Oprah Winfrey. "Nobody knew I was a liar and a thief, but I knew," Minkow confessed to correspondent Steve Kroft. But several months ago, when 60 Minutes was presented with evidence that Minkow was being deceitful again, producers had no interest in correcting the record.

Similarly, Fox News has enthusiastically served as one of Minkow's biggest promoters. Minkow appears regularly on the network as a fraud expert.

During a [March] interview on Your World With Neil Cavuto, the host aired clips from an upcoming movie starring Minkow in his own redemption story and gushed, "Now you're a big movie star. ... This movie is going to win an Oscar."

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