Disgraced former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried financially backed half a dozen media outlets including ProPublica, Vox and the Intercept, it has emerged.
SBF’s crypto exchange sensationally collapsed earlier this month, after the company filed for bankruptcy amid reports it owes billions of dollars to customers.
But the repercussions could be even more far-reaching, with one media outlet warning it has a ‘significant hole’ in its budget now FTX has folded.
In a letter to staff, The Intercept’s acting editor-in-chief Roger Hodge said that due to the collapse, the news website is reliant on other donors ‘stepping forward’ to make up for the shortfall.
The letter states the company had expected to receive $3.25 million from SBF over the next two years, but that all further payments are on hold.The Intercept received $500,000 from the disgraced CEO in September and another $250,000 was due in December.
The grant money was given through the philanthropic entity Building a Stronger Future Foundation – and was disclosed in the media outlet’s reporting about FTX.
One section of the letter reads: ‘I knew from our coverage that SBF was quickly becoming a polarizing figure.But I also knew our reporters would never pull their punches because of a donation – and they didn’t’
The letter concludes with a plea for contributions, saying: ‘As of today, we have a significant hole in our budget. If you are able, please consider donating today to support The Intercept’s crusading independent journalism.’
During his time as FTX CEO, SBF was a regular presence at major summits, appearing with the likes of Bill Clinton while receiving the support of major celebrities such as Gisele, Larry David and Steph Curry.
Other recipients of FTX’s grants include Semafor, The Law and Justice Journalism Project and an unspecified podcast.
FTX founder and CEO Sam Bankman-Fried allegedly shuffled $10billion of funds to his trading firm Alameda Research, with about $2billion now missing
During his time as FTX CEO, Bankman-Fried was a regular presence at major summits, appearing with the likes of Bill Clinton while receiving the support of major celebrities such as Gisele, Larry David and Steph Curry
ProPublica, which was also a beneficiary of SBF’s generosity, issued a statement on its grant agreement with the foundation on November 11, the day FTX filed for bankruptcy.
ProPublica said it was owed $3.3 million from SBF after previously receiving $1.7 million – but that it was not anticipating the deal being honored.
Twitter owner Elon Musk has slammed reports that SBF owns a stake in Twitter as ‘false,’ something that was first reported by Semafor, an outlet that was founded by former New York Times reporter Ben Smith.
He hit back with a tweet that read: ‘Semafor is owned by SBF.This is a massive conflict of interest in your reporting. Journalistic integrity is [trash].’
Tom Brady and his ex-wife Gisele Bundchen are among the celebrities who endorsed FTX
NBA star Steph Curry and comedian Larry David also did commercials for the crypto exchange before it imploded earlier this month
Musk has repeatedly distanced himself and mocked Bankman-Fried since FTX filed for bankruptcy on November 11, the same day that SBF stepped down as CEO
Elon Musk has revealed he rejected crypto mogul Sam Bankman-Fried’s offer to help finance his Twitter takeover last spring, saying the FTX founder set off his ‘bulls**t meter’
Semafor editor and former media writer for the New York Times Ben Smith accused Musk of involving Bankman-Fried in the deal
Musk also poked fun at SBF’s activities in funding media outlets with a tweet that said: ‘If SBF was as good at running a crypto exchange as he was at bribing media, FTX would still be solvent!’
Earlier this month, Musk admitted he held conversations with SBF about possible funding regarding the Tesla owner’s acquisition of Twitter.
However, the South African said: ‘I talked to him for about half an hour, and I know my bull***t meter was redlining.It was like, coverage of FTX’s demise used ‘soft, passive language to disguise blame at every turn.’ It has also been confirmed that SBF will appear remotely at the Times’ upcoming Dealbook Summit.
According to Puck News’ Theodore Schleifer, SBF’s interest in media went beyond donating millions, as the former billionaire also hired former journalists and made them part of his inner circle.
John Ray, who was named FTX’s chief executive after the company filed for bankruptcy on November 11, said in a court filing earlier this month that the lapses in oversight, security and corporate governance he identified were greater than in any other process he has managed in his 40 years as a bankruptcy specialist, including at Enron.
‘Never in my career have I seen such a complete failure of corporate controls and such a complete absence of trustworthy financial information as occurred here,’ Ray said in the filing, with the District of Delaware bankruptcy court.