People often talk about “cancel culture.” The way in which people are “canceled” from public life for the tiniest error of judgement or the most minute misstep.
So it is interesting to discover what you can do and still not get canceled. Having studied the matter I have come to the conclusion that the best way to not get canceled is to steal billions of dollars and run off with it. That’ll do the trick.
That is what Sam Bankman-Fried has done. The slovenly crypto-fraudster was exposed weeks ago. His business was not simply badly handled or the victim of unfortunate circumstances. FTX crypto exchange and the hedge fund Alameda Research went out of their way to defraud investors and users. But despite this fact, Bankman-Fraud still seems to have support. No cancellation for him!
Just look 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?
The answer would seem to be that he has been a huge donor to the Democrats as well as causes close to the Democrats’ hearts.
And while they might have thought that they were using him, in fact all the time he was using them. The Dems and their media chorus were always part of his cover.
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.
And the effects of this are still working themselves out. It looks like the crypto lender Genesis could be brought down and that in turn this could be big enough to bring down Genesis’s parent company, the venture capital firm Digital Currency Group. In other words the largest stashes of Bitcoin are now at risk because of the actions of FTX. Bankman-Fried could almost crash a currency. Something that Bernie Madoff came nowhere near doing.
The fact that FTX got away with what it did for so long is all the more amazing given the unbelievable overreach of the US authorities and pursuit of other people in the crypto space. Ordinarily the moment anyone makes a lot of money in the crypto space they find themselves in the crosshairs of every arm of the authorities here.
But Bankman-Fried got away with it, or has so far, because he said all the right things, cozied up to all the right people and posed as exactly the person that the Dems and others so wanted him to be. He did it completely cynically, as we now know. Because as he said in one private message, “I feel bad for those who get f—ed by it, by this dumb game we woke Westerners play where we say all the right shiboleths [sic] and so everyone likes us.” Well he clearly doesn’t feel that bad. Nor do the people who keep supporting him.
For me the question remains, why do good people get canceled while such a wrong one still roams free?
Don’t fall for celebrities
Live by celebrity endorsement and you’ll die by celebrity endorsement. And it’s not just the Dems who have to learn that. The Republicans do as well. As I wrote here last month, the Kanye West meltdown should have been a learning moment.
Conservatives used to laugh at liberals for seeking celebrity endorsements. But many of them went weak at the knees when Kanye came their way. Some interviewed him, others talked about him as if he was a serious thinker rather than just a jumble of mad half-ideas.
His stunt at Mar-a-Lago made Donald Trump look like the most sensible person in the room. Today, as Kanye spun more anti-Semitic crankery on Alex Jones’ show he almost managed to make Alex Jones look sensible. So I say again, put not your trust in Kanye, for he is nuts.
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