FTX scammer gets kid gloves treatment by the media

Sam Bankman-Fried, who often goes by SBF, has been doing a media tour to rehabilitate his reputation after scamming his customers out of billions of dollars.

It’s actually going very well indeed for him. Unsurprisingly so, since his victims were average folks and he spread his ill-gotten gains around to the media and the Democrat politicians. You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.


It’s good to be in the Elite™. Bernie Madoff’s big mistake was scamming his bucks from the Elite™ and keeping all the dough. If he had been targeting normal folks like you and me, and paying protection money to the right people, he would be a free man living in the Bahamas.

[L]ook at how his friends at The New York Times have treated him. In recent weeks they have tried to portray the collapse of FTX as — at the worst — a case of unfortunate mismanagement. The poor diddums billionaire boy just became too successful too fast. Problems are bound to happen. You know how it is.

This week the paper went one further. They actually hosted the fraudster at a New York Times event. Their description of him in the event program was “29-year old American investor, entrepreneur and philanthropist.” Well that’s one way to describe him. At the end of the event the moderator asked everyone to join him in applauding their guest and the audience dutifully did so.

Can anyone think of another example of this happening. Did Bernie Madoff get soft-soap articles about him after his fraud was discovered? Did he have invitations to major public events to put his side of the story after his ponzi scheme collapsed? Not that I remember. But Bankman-Fried has been given all the soft treatment possible. Now why should that be?

It really has been remarkable how easily SBF has been treated. His scam wasn’t penny ante–it was large enough to rank among the largest ever pulled off. In less than 3 years he managed to build an empire, acquire the naming rights to the Miami Heat stadium, partner with Mercedes Benz, advertise his wares with some of the biggest stars in the world, become the 2nd-largest donor to the Democrats after George Soros, and be lionized by the media as a savior figure.


Ed wrote about SBF’s interview on Good Morning America with George Stephanopoulos yesterday–an  interview that was simultaneously remarkable for showing how morally vacuous SBF is and the ease with which he can get decent treatment despite this fact. Ed notes:

Perhaps we’ll see more of the two-hour discussion between Bankman-Fried and Stephanopoulos later this week. For now, though, it looks as if Stephanopoulos never asked about SBF’s political connections, mainly to Democrats, and his efforts to work those for his own political benefits. Axios reported last month that SBF poured $37 million into Democrats’ campaigns this election cycle alone.

I also haven’t seen a lot of references to how the media lionized SBF. Perhaps because SBF spread the dough around very generously indeed, pouring millions into media nonprofits like ProPublica. Ashleigh Rindsberg wrote about this at Tablet Magazine a few weeks back and it is really stunning how much SBF’s success was a creation of the media, which had deep ties to his finances.

Over the past two years, Bankman-Fried cultivated the media lavishly, if not carefully. Drawing on what then seemed like an unlimited pool of cash, SBF (as we’ll call the mythologized version of the real person) dispersed investments, advertising dollars, sponsorships, and donations to key news outlets—including ProPublica, Vox, Semafor, and The Intercept—with extraordinary effectiveness.


Bankman-Fried’s head has filled the frame of the most coveted business news covers in the world, including Fortune (“The next Warren Buffett?”) and Forbes (“Only Zuck has been as rich (23 billion) this young (29)!”). CNBC star Jim Cramer once compared Bankman-Fried, who has been active in crypto finance for only a handful of years, to John Pierpont Morgan, the giant of industry who worked in banking for nearly four decades before striking out on his own.


The media wasn’t just taken in by SBF. He and his crew were not super geniuses who were so smooth that nobody would have noticed their fraud without deep digging. In fact SBF comes off as kind of a doofus, and his crew are downright idiotic. Here is his hand-picked CEO of Alameda Partners, his trading firm talking about what they do. She is truly idiotic. It is impossible to believe that any serious person who wanted to find out how serious SBF actually was could walk away from meeting her and think “she will rule the world someday.”

Earlier this week SBF appeared alongside some of the most prominent people in the world at a New York Times “DealBook Summit” and was asked to discuss, in the most gentle ways, how his empire collapsed and what is coming next for him. Attendees paid $2500 each to hear from him and other luminaries. Look at his colleagues who also spoke at the event and tell me that SBF is not still considered a member of The Elite™.

The Times could have turned this into a journalistic coup. A live interview with one of the world’s biggest frauds, but instead he escaped unscathed and even lauded. Watch:

SBF, by the way, appeared from the Bahamas since it is considerably safer to do his PR from there than to have come to New York where some legal eagle might have had a chance to serve him papers or even arrest him, if that is ever in the cards. Best to stay safe in his oceanfront home along the beach.


It is remarkable how sympathetically he is being portrayed. We are even being asked to feel sorry for him, as if he could possibly be a victim along with those who didn’t get fantastically rich from his fraud, but impoverished.

As Ed points out:

Let me correct the quote reference just a skosh: “I expect I’m gonna have nothing at the end of this,” said the man hunkering down in the Bahamas with $100,000 in the bank and $121 million in recently purchased real estate there as well.

Not in any sense does Bankman-Fried suggest that he feels any sympathy for the victims of the FTX collapse, nor any real responsibility for it. He repeatedly dodges the latter, especially in his breathtaking claim that he didn’t bother to manage risk for FTX, and only admits to being “vaguely aware” of customers’ deposited assets getting transferred to Alameda, which crosses “a bright red line,” as Stephanopoulos points out. SBF’s response was that he was asleep at the switch.

SBF’s theft is similar to Madoff’s, although he accomplished it more quickly and with media fanfare and encouragement. He so far is coming out much better because he chose to steal from the right people and share with the right people. Madoff  got treatment quite a bit different when he was caught because he pissed of the wrong crowd.


Douglas Murray at the New York Post gets to the heart of the matter:

If he had any brilliance, it was his simple insight that you could run a successful Ponzi scheme if you made all the right noises. So in interviews Bankman-Fried forever talked about all the things he was trying to do personally to save the planet. He talked about the importance of tacking injustice and inequality and all the other things that make Democrats feel warm and gooey inside. And he posed as this generous person who was totally uninterested in making money, other than to make it in order to give it away. Bill Clinton happily cozied up to him on stage. Maxine Waters blew a kiss at the unlovable oddball. The Dems adored him. It seems many of them still do. And so he got away with his fraud. And seems to be getting away with it still.

Even now there are papers claiming that poor Sam suffered from a run on the bank or a run on deposits. In fact the problem with FTX was neither of these things. The problem was a gross misuse and theft of customer funds. Early claims that Bankman-Fried had only $1 billion of funds unaccounted for now look like a vast underestimation. In fact it seems that he has “mislaid” at least $8 billion of customer’s funds. That’s an awful lot of money to lose down the back of the sofa.

In a sane world SBF would be in jail right now, he would be the subject of massive investigations by the media focused on what went wrong, how the world’s Elite™ got taken in by him and became huge advocates for his firm, pushing it on the general public as a safe and even generous investment. “You will saving the world while making money!” SBF was enabled by the Very Best People who lent him a stamp of approval despite huge red flags. That is newsworthy.


Instead, SBF’s image is still being burnished, because the alternative is revealing how much the Elite™ itself was in on the scam. The scale by which they have benefited is huge–President Biden sits in the Oval Office partly because SBF poured millions into his campaign, and the Democrats pulled off some unlikely victories using his huge contributions to bankroll their campaigns.

In short, SBF was simply the front man for this organized crime. He was the “effective altruist” the Elite™ used to fund themselves. The kid glove treatment is part of a quid pro quo–a continuation of a deal cut a few years back to funnel cash to Leftists who needed it. The media organizations got their cut, big corporations theirs, and the politicians theirs.

The only victims? Investors. And who cares about them anyway?

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