Madoff's assailant ran away, leaving Madoff with the field of honor and increased "cred." Since the fight, Madoff and his attacker have apparently made up, and are now playing nice. Luckily, the guards didn't see the brawl, so neither prisoner got into trouble.
While Madoff's travails behind bars are interesting, the more fascinating story is taking place on this side of the prison gates. At some point over the past year, the news media has transformed into some strange version of Bernie Madoff's parents. It's hard to tell the exact moment when it happened, but there seems to have been a point at which disgust evolved into a weird sort of pride. In late March, not quite seven months ago, newspapers and internet sources printed photos of a frightened and upset Ruth Madoff trying to shop for groceries while being attacked by paparazzi. The titles attached to the story -- "A 'Down' Market for Mrs. Madoff," "Ruth Madoff Spends Hard-Earned Money" -- suggested that the papers found a certain grim joy in her despair.
But then Bernie went to jail and the search for financial villains went on without him. We found out about Danny Pang and Bonnie Sweeten, Allen Stanford and Thanos Papalexis. We found out about some of Madoff's high-placed connections and got a tantalizing glimpse of a system that may or may not have been contemplating putting him in charge of the SEC.
In the meantime, we heard rumors that Madoff had cancer and we began watching his prison developments with something that felt a little bit like sympathy. By the time he began partaking in Native American sweat lodge ceremonies, the coverage was bordering on positive. Now that our little Bernie's won his first fight, it isn't bordering anymore; it almost feels like we're waiting for him to start doing the warden's taxes and get a job in the prison library.
It's hard to put a finger on what exactly is making our Madoff mood shift. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that he's behind bars, clearly suffering for his crimes. In a society that has grown used to seeing schemers and celebrities skirt the impact of their crimes or trade their wealth for suspended sentences, there's something refreshing about a criminal who is actually doing time instead of lounging around the house wearing an ankle bracelet or -- worse yet -- lounging around Connecticut selling off his modern art collection.