Who watches the watchers? is an ancient Latin phrase that succinctly expresses the quandary of how a society constrains the behavior of those empowered to constrain the behavior of others. Every society needs someone to uphold the public good — police, judges, rulers — but how do you keep them good?
The idea is so timeless that, even 2,000 years later, it’s still used in our popular culture — except now we need to extend this idea to news outlets that lie on behalf of those in power rather than hold them accountable.
The New York Times has been in a long death spiral of credibility and social value. It’s gone from merely having a liberal slant to printing highly questionable content during the War on Terror to now just an endless stream of frothing-at-the-mouth progressive propaganda.
This week, people are pummeling The Times because of how much its own staff hates the paper, but they’ve also gotten in trouble for carrying water for the Clinton campaign, lying about Hunter Biden’s laptop, and a whole list of “whoppers” we’ve put together for you.
Now add to the list covering for a billion-dollar criminal.
In November, the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency exchange, FTX, cost investors billions when it collapsed in on itself. Coverage of the disaster focused on the alleged criminal behavior of CEO Sam Bankman-Fried (or SBF), like his dishonesty, illicit use of customer funds, terrible business decisions and lacuna of internal controls.
Now The Times — who can’t pay their own staff but pretend to know all about crypto — are portraying SBF as a confused, mistaken young entrepreneur who deserves a slap on the wrist and a second chance. In an interview with SBF after the bankruptcy, the Old Gray Lady completely dismissed all of his criminal actions.
The paper’s creating a false narrative for an alleged conman, which isn’t just unfair to those he reportedly ripped off but dangerous for those who might be similarly swindled in the future. Everyone can see this is bad, but it’s very odd that they’d do this at all. Shouldn’t the Times of all places want to put the “bastards of the world” like SBF on notice with their “ink and rage,” a la Hunter S. Thompson?
No, because apparently the Times has decided to become one of those bastards.
Prior to FTX’s downfall, SBF donated almost $40 billion to Democrat and left-wing PACs, with large sums of money thrown around to allied media outlets along the way. The large donations from the young billionaire to political organizations and news influencers were of course to buy favorable treatment, for both regulatory lenience and reputation management.
As an apparent important donor to news outlets, SBF is trying to dodge criticism and accountability. So, The Times has abandoned journalism in favor of prostitution: The Old Gray Lady has joined the world’s oldest profession. Not very lady-like of her.
If the emerging industry of cryptocurrency is to learn and fulfill its potential, our society has to make sure its loudest voices don’t shout over a criminal’s “mistakes.” Rather, this is an opportunity to talk about the appropriate regulatory guardrails that Fintech needs.
The two-edged sword of Fintech is the lack of government regulation. FTX allowed investors to interact directly in crypto derivatives, so retail traders could access the fund same way online retail investment sites demystified investment in the late 90s. FTX cut out the so-called middleman and as a result, there was no one to catch investors when they fell.
Crypto stands at a crossroads, either it will transform society with a better medium of exchange than what we have now or it will simply become 21st Century digital snake-oil. Transparency and accountability will allow for the emerging crypto industry to weed out the bad actors and move forward with the consumer trust they deserve.
The way we get there is to listen to companies that have been acting responsibly in the crypto world for years, and didn’t come out of nowhere two years ago like SBF and FTX did.
Outlets like The New York Times need to demonstrate social responsibility and hold criminals accountable, not cash checks from them. SBF’s pay-to-play strategy seems to be backfiring, thank goodness, but the whole ugly affair is further proof that corporate left-wing media can’t be trusted to watch the watchers.
Jared Whitley is a longtime D.C. and Utah politico and award-winning political writer, having worked in the office of Sen. Orrin Hatch, the Bush White House and the defense industry. He has an MBA from Hult International Business School in Dubai.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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