In some way, Sam Bankman-Fried will get his rehabilitation media tour

He’s simply 30 years outdated. His voice seems like that of your common sophomore. His hair is raveled. He typically attire like a man who works as a seaside badge checker on the Jersey Shore. 

That is Sam Bankman-Fried (generally often called SBF), the now-former CEO of cryptocurrency change FTX. You’ve probably heard his story by now: The one-time wunderkind, who some have known as “the following Warren Buffet,” noticed his crypto firm, FTX, soar to the purpose that his personal internet value was north of $25 billion earlier this yr. However then studies emerged of probably doubtful accounting and the alleged mishandling of buyer funds to the tune of an $8 billion gap in FTX’s steadiness sheet.  

In October, SBF’s value reportedly dropped to $10.5 billion. On Nov. 8 alone, he reportedly misplaced greater than 90 p.c of mentioned value and dropped beneath the $1 billion mark. 

And, as you learn this, you might have extra wealth than SBF does if the greenback quantity in your financial institution account is above zero. 

The studies of SBF’s spending sound like one thing out of a James Bond bad-guy character: Within the Bahamas alone, he and high administration are mentioned to have spent $300 million on property on the resort island. You learn that accurately: $300 million, together with $40 million by SBF himself for a penthouse on the seaside. 

Bankman-Fried now looks as if the crypto model of disgraced Bernie Madoff, who led the biggest Ponzi scheme in historical past over the course of twenty years till his arrest in 2008. However the comparability to Madoff is nearly unfair to Madoff, if that’s attainable. As a result of at the very least with Bernie, one may perceive why individuals invested closely, even their life financial savings in lots of instances: Madoff had been each chairman of the Nasdaq and chairman of the board of the Nationwide Affiliation of Securities Sellers (NASD). He was clearly extremely revered on Wall Road.

You then look at and hearken to Sam Bankman-Fried, who didn’t also have a driver’s license when Madoff was arrested, and marvel, “How did anybody give this child even one dime to speculate with?” 

However someway it occurred.

No matter FTX’s collapse and SBF’s position as its CEO, the interview requests proceed to come back in from shops just like the New York Occasions. And let’s simply say the headlines have been light:

“Sam Bankman-Fried Blames ‘Enormous Administration Failures’ for FTX Collapse; Mr. Bankman-Fried spoke at The New York Occasions’s DealBook convention, in his first public look since his crypto change imploded.”

Wait: Bankman-Fried was nonetheless given an enormous public discussion board by the paper of document? Why didn’t the publication cancel, given the intense accusations towards him?  

Throughout the discussion board, per the Occasions story, SBF dismissed the losses throughout his dialog with moderator Andrew Ross Sorkin: “In addressing the affect of the corporate’s collapse on his personal future, he was understated. ‘I’ve had a foul month,’ he mentioned at one level, to laughter from the viewers.”

Think about that: One of many largest monetary collapses in historical past simply occurred, and the viewers finds it hilarious

On ABC Information, SBF additionally appeared on digital camera from the Bahamas. The promo was positively smooth, given the circumstances: 

“TOMORROW: Collapse of a crypto empire — @GStephanopoulos sits down with former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried to speak about what went fallacious on the firm in a one-on-one interview on @GMA.”

Does anybody assume Madoff would have been given the identical courtesy with this type of framing round “what went fallacious”? This type of wording solely gives the look of victimhood. 

Gizmodo’s assessment of the ABC interview captured it completely:  

“[SBF] spent the interview repeatedly adopting the posture and cadence of a 15-year-old child caught with a baggie of weed in his sock drawer. However SBF wasn’t caught smoking weed by his mother and father and he’s not a youngster. The 30-year-old graduate of MIT misplaced billions of {dollars} in person deposits—the life financial savings of normal individuals.”

So, is there a political side in play right here? There at all times is. 

Seems SBF was one of many largest donors to Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential marketing campaign to the tune of $5 million, based on the Wall Road Journal. He additionally reportedly donated closely to Democrats forward of the 2022 midterms. 

“Some Democrats see Bankman-Fried’s investments and engagement because the factor that would assist them maintain again a purple midterm wave,” Politico noticed in August. 

For her half, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) seems to be approaching SBF with child gloves concerning oversight. “We recognize that you just’ve been candid in your discussions about what occurred at #FTX,” Waters, who chairs the Home Monetary Providers Committee, tweeted. “Your willingness to speak to the general public will assist the corporate’s prospects, buyers, and others. To that finish, we might welcome your participation in our listening to on the thirteenth.”

So well mannered. 

In a latest interview, SBF claimed for the primary time publicly that he additionally donated thousands and thousands to the Republican Social gathering. However not like the Biden and midterm donations to Democrats, there don’t appear to be any receipts round that, solely SBF’s phrase (no matter that’s value) that he funneled the donations into dark-money operations. 

“All my Republican donations had been darkish,” he instructed crypto commentator Tiffany Fong final week. “The explanation was not for regulatory causes, it’s as a result of reporters freak the f*** out in the event you donate to Republicans. They’re all tremendous liberal, and I didn’t need to have that struggle.”

This is senseless. If the objective of a donation is to realize affect, why hold these donations secret and below the radar? And if SBF donated to Republicans, why didn’t he additionally donate to Donald Trump in 2020, in the identical method as he did to Biden? As a result of he was afraid reporters would freak out? C’mon, man, as Biden would possibly say. 

SBF’s investments prolonged to media corporations and startups as nicely, reportedly together with The Intercept, Vox, ProPublica and startup Semafor. Some questions come up: 

Ought to these publications give the cash again, contemplating the place it got here from? Are they obligated to? Ought to the quantity of the investments be disclosed in an effort to be absolutely clear? 

There are extra questions than solutions at this level. But evidently Sam Bankman-Fried shouldn’t be taking these questions from Andrew Ross Sorkin at a New York Occasions e-book discussion board or from ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, however as an alternative from the FBI and the Securities and Trade Fee again right here in the USA. 

A large monetary collapse simply occurred. However one would possibly by no means understand it from watching these interviews, which appear to painting SBF as a casualty as an alternative of probably the trigger. 

Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist.