Political Bias On Display In ’60 Minutes’ Segment On SBF

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This past Sunday, “60 Minutes” ran a feature story on the former cryptocurrency baron Sam Bankman-Fried (aka “SBF”), founder of the once high-flying crypto exchange FTX. Bankman-Fried goes on trial this week, facing multiple felony charges for various categories of fraud and money laundering. The segment was a revealing look at the inner workings of the man behind perhaps the most sudden collapse of personal wealth in the history of business: from a net worth of $20 billion to zero in a matter of days. The story was told through an interview with best-selling author Michael Lewis, who by sheer happenstance found himself acting as Bankman-Fried’s de facto biographer and stenographer. Lewis followed the eccentric billionaire from place to place, accumulating over one hundred one-on-one interviews with the man who was once considered a candidate to become the world’s first trillionaire. The result is Lewis’s new book “Going Infinite,” an intimate look at the inner workings of a mind that was both genius and pathetically immature. What the “60 Minutes” segment revealed, however, was the inherent political bias so pervasive in the mainstream media machine that even when attempting to tell a story so stand-alone and fascinating as the rise and fall of SBF, they just cannot help themselves. Reporter John Wertheim devotes a decent chunk of the allotted total story time (which, sans commercials, runs about twenty-five minutes) to Bankman-Fried’s political activities. SBF believed in what is called “effective capitalism.” As Lewis describes, Bankman-Fried believed the USA, acting through the power and reach of its democratic government, was essential towards solving the world’s problems. In the accused felon’s mind, the greatest threat to that government was Donald Trump. “60 Minutes” then goes to great lengths to describe how SBF offered tens of millions in donations to Republican superPACs, headed by GOP Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), to bolster the campaigns of those in the party who were either tacitly or actively opposed to Donald Trump’s re-election. SBF also allegedly offered to pay Donald Trump money to not run again in 2024. The figure floated in the story is $5 billion, but nothing came of it. And at least “60 Minutes” grudgingly concedes there’s no evidence that number came from Trump himself. Still, this apparently warranted mention, as anything that stains Trump, even speculation and non-events, must be front and center in this new age of activist journalism. As this segment of the story wraps up, one reading the implications of the language in the reporting might even conclude that this plan to buy Trump out of the running for re-election didn’t happen solely because FTX blew up before the vaguely speculative deal could be consummated. In fact, “60 Minutes” devoted three minutes — more than ten percent of the precious allotted airtime — to these GOP-related narratives, concluding with: “Approached for comment by “60 Minutes”, neither former President Trump nor Senator McConnell responded.” Regardless of political affiliation, isn’t it curious that “60 Minutes” would frame the story of Bankman-Fried’s active political involvement in such a way as to make it seem like he was primarily a dedicated donor to the GOP? The real story, of course, is far more bipartisan, if not the opposite even. According to Time Magazine, not exactly a right-wing outlet, Bankman-Fried gave $40 million to Democrats. Indeed, he was the party’s second largest check-writer, behind another infamous activist billionaire, George Soros. And yet, for some reason, “60 Minutes” devotes just one five-second line of copy to even hinting at his active support of the Democrat Party: “Back in 2020 Bankman-Fried ranked among Joe Biden’s biggest donors.” With that little disclaimer out of the way, we quickly move back on message to the real menace to democracy, Donald Trump. But this seeming footnote is a strategic understatement. According to the Wall Street Journal, Bankman-Fried in fact donated a whopping $5.6 million to the Biden campaign. Bankman-Fried now claims to have given an equal amount to Republicans. It’s very possible SBF gave to both parties equally. And given the revealing psychological profile Lewis paints of this man-child who, it seems, saw himself on a mission to use his once-gargantuan checkbook to save the world, that even makes sense. What doesn’t make sense, at least if CBS claims to be “unbiased”, is why “60 Minutes” chose to focus almost exclusively on Bankman-Fried’s scheming with GOP leaders while but for one sentence completely ignoring his very deep entanglements with Democrat powerhouse players and institutions. Again, according to Time, his D.C. activities included $27 million to Democrat-aligned superPAC Protect Our Future, $7 million more went to two other Democrat superPACs, as well as other personal donations to Democrat Senators Dick Durban (D-IL), Corey Booker (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Maggie Hassan (D-NH). Bankman-Fried also gave to Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), John Boozman (R-AR), and Susan Collins (R-ME). So, it seems, he was indeed an equal opportunity donor — especially when Hassan and Boozman co-sponsored a bill to put FTX on the path to regulatory compliance in the U.S.. The broader point, however, as it relates to the tale presented to the viewer is this: viewers who had not done any outside research would have come away from the CBS news magazine feature believing that SBF almost exclusively donated to Mitch McConnell and the GOP. And that’s really one of the underlying points of the story, beyond telling an interesting and, in my view, overly sympathetic profile of one of history’s greatest swindlers. “60 Minutes” felt the need to attach this pariah to the party the media despises, while lying through omission about his intimate relationship with the party for whom they have become nothing more than a propaganda wing. Media bias can be as subtle as it is pervasive. And, perhaps in the case of “60 Minutes”, we’ve stumbled across another example. What should have been an interesting character study, narrated by a very talented author, was reduced to political water-carrying as an election approaches. The primary take-away is now SBF and the GOP were compadres and the Democrat Party was nowhere to be found. And yet, a more misleading and disingenuous narrative could not have been constructed by Karine Jean-Pierre herself. If anything, Sam Bankman-Fried was the darling of the political and social Left, as well as its most reliable and enthusiastic benefactor. No matter. McConnell and Trump refused to comment. That their counterparts across the aisle and in the White House never appeared in the story to offer comment, says much about the state of journalism today, at least in the offices of “60 Minutes”. Viewer beware. Brad Schaeffer is a commodities trader, author and columnist who’s newest book Life In The Pits: My Time As A Trader On The Rough-And-Tumble Exchange Floors will be out in December (soon to be available for pre-sale) The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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