New York Times Runs Bizarre Softball Article on FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried

Matt Novak, Gizmodo:

FTX filed for bankruptcy on Friday, leaving reasonable people to wonder how a cryptocurrency platform founded in 2019, which reached a valuation of $32 billion in 2021, could plummet to zero in such a short time. There’s a new piece in the New York Times which gained exclusive access to FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, but if you’re looking for answers, you’re not going to find it there. In fact, the interview with SBF, as he’s often called, is presented with such a gauzy lens that you have to start wondering what the hell is going on with crypto reporting at the Times.

The referenced article reminds me a lot of the coverage from financial sectors after the housing bubble burst at the turn of the century. The Times reporter, David Yaffe-Bellany, acknowledges Bankman-Fried’s guarded responses, but it fails to meaningfully interrogate many of his claims, as Novak documents, while being overly deferential to this industry in general. Perhaps Yaffe-Bellany was unable to get a substantial response which, given the legal jeopardy faced by Bankman-Fried and FTX, makes sense. But its failure to describe how the interview subject is dodging meaningful questions and attempting to control the narrative is effectively helping him do both of those things.

The Times article ends on this curious exchange:

Shortly before the interview, Mr. Bankman-Fried had posted a cryptic tweet: the word “What.” Then he had tweeted the letter H. Asked to explain, Mr. Bankman-Fried said he planned to post the letter A and then the letter P. “It’s going to be more than one word,” he said. “I’m making it up as I go.”

So he was planning a series of cryptic tweets? “Something like that.”

But why? “I don’t know,” he said. “I’m improvising. I think it’s time.”

Again, Yaffe-Bellany did not explore this further. It makes absolutely no sense. Or, rather, it made no sense — until a few Twitter users realized that accounts which archive the deleted tweets of notable cryptosphere personalities would not be triggered if a new tweet was posted at the same time another was deleted. Bankman-Fried’s free jazz tweets is more likely an attempt to cover up his removal of over one hundred posts.