While Crypto Bro scammed clients, reporters scammed readers.

by Ari Paul, FAIR

Today, you probably know who Sam Bankman-Fried and FTX are, and the details of why he and his company are front-page news are emerging at an amazing pace. Here’s the short version: Bankman-Fried—a boyish-looking cryptocurrency baron known commonly as SBF—announced that his lauded cryptocurrency exchange, FTX, had lost at least $1 billion in client funds, sending the crypto market into a tailspin (Fox Business11/16/22). The company, once the third-largest cryptocurrency exchange (AP11/16/22), has filed for bankruptcy. Lest one think this is a debacle that only affects crypto bros, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warns that “the sector’s links to the broader financial system could cause wider stability issues” (New York Times11/17/22).

A bitcoin set against a market ticket background

How could this happen? How could no one have seen this coming? These are the questions many people are asking. One problem is that in the months leading up to Bankman-Fried’s transition from financial genius to possible financial criminal (Yahoo Finance11/14/22), he received little scrutiny in the media. On the contrary, he was celebrated.

Among the silliest suck-ups came from the New York Times (5/14/22), in which David Yaffe-Bellany, the paper’s cryptocurrency correspondent, said that Bankman-Fried’s “pragmatic style” came from his parents, who “studied utilitarianism, an ethical framework that calls for decisions calculated to secure the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people.” Yaffe-Bellany added that “Bankman-Fried is also an admirer of Peter Singer, the Princeton University philosopher widely considered the intellectual father of ‘effective altruism.’” (Singer has been criticized for his eugenics-like approach to disability—FAIR.org1/20/21.)

Read More