The Intercept begged its readers for donations after the publication revealed that a multimillion-dollar grant from disgraced former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried would be placed “on hold” due to FTX filing for bankruptcy.
Bankman-Fried’s cryptocurrency exchange FTX plummeted from a $32 billion valuation to facing bankruptcy after his company was at the center of significant scandals in the cryptocurrency space last week.
As Breitbart News Economics Editor John Carney explained:
We’re still learning exactly what happened to FTX, but there are definite echoes from the financial crisis. On November 3, Coindesk reported that much of the $14.6 billion of assets of a fund called Alameda Research consisted of tokens created by FTX. These tokens are sort of like airline miles—a kind of currency generated by the company that is issued to its customers—except that they could be traded on crypto exchanges. Many found this disturbing because Alameda Research is also owned by FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, who everyone calls SBF. This raised the possibility that the value of FTT, the FTX tokens, was being artificially propped up by Alameda’s dragon hoard of the tokens.
In addition to being a Democrat mega-donor, Bankman-Fried funneled millions of dollars to media outlets through one of his philanthropic entities, the Building a Stronger Future foundation.
So @SBF_FTX gave money to media outlets like Vox & The Intercept. He’s had glowing puff pieces in NYT, Fortune, Forbes, CNBC…
Writing big fat cheques to the Democrats buys a lot of glowing PR
— Rita Panahi (@RitaPanahi) November 16, 2022
The Intercept is one of several media outlets that received a hefty donation from Bankman-Fried’s foundation.
Bankman-Fried pledged $4 million to The Intercept over two years. So far, the outlet has received $500,000 out of the $4 million to support their reporting “on biosafety and pandemic prevention.”
However, The Intercept’s Acting Editor-in-Chief, Roger Hodge, announced on Friday that future grant payments are “on hold,” and used the announcement to ask readers for donations.
Much remains unknown about the future of FTX and SBF’s philanthropic giving. We have been in touch with our colleagues at other nonprofit newsrooms that received support from the Building a Stronger Future Foundation, and we remain hopeful that other donors committed to this work will step forward.
But 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.
How many publications did SBF bribe? pic.twitter.com/nLDGr15XGo
— David Sacks (@DavidSacks) November 18, 2022
It is unclear whether the outlet plans to keep or return the $500,000 it has already received from Bankman-Fried’s foundation.
In the aftermath of FTX’s collapse, some celebrity endorsers, including Tom Brady, Gisele Bündchen, Larry David, David Ortiz, Steph Curry, and Shaquille O’Neal, along with Bankman-Fried, are being sued by cryptocurrency investors.
FTX was “ultimately a Ponzi scheme, misleading customers and prospective customers with the false impression that any cryptocurrency assets held on the Deceptive FTX Platform were safe and were not being invested in unregistered securities,” the lawsuit alleges.
The Intercept is not the only media outlet that received funding from Bankman-Fried’s Building a Stronger Future Foundation.
I wrote earlier today that there's a huge question over whether SBF will be able to continue funding media going forward.
Grants have gone to:
— Teddy Schleifer (@teddyschleifer) November 11, 2022
ProPublica similarly received a $5 million grant from the foundation to support their reporting “on pandemic preparedness and biothreats,” receiving one-third of the grant earlier in the year with the remaining two-thirds disbursed over the next two years.
However, ProPublica president Robin Sparkman also announced that their future grant payments would be “on hold.”
New: Grants from Sam Bankman-Fried's foundation to ProPublica are on hold. Here's the email from ProPublica president Robin Sparkman to staff this afternoon. pic.twitter.com/J62bdFsppo
— Max Tani (@maxwelltani) November 11, 2022
Sparkman said Bankman-Fried’s foundation is “assessing its finances and, concurrently, talking to other funders about taking on some of its grant portfolio.”
New media outlet Semafor, led by former New York Times columnist Ben Smith, also received an undisclosed investment from the Building a Stronger Future Foundation. Vox also received an undisclosed sum from the foundation.