Sam Bankman-Fried may have been arrested, but he’s not the only one with questions to answer following the FTX implosion. ProPublica, the nonprofit investigative news outlet, has finally claimed in an internal email that it will return the $1.6 million it received from Bankman-Fried’s family foundation, according to Axios.
In a memo, ProPublica president and co-CEO Robin Sparkman and editor-in-chief and co-CEO Stephen Engelberg said the company will be returning the money from Bankman-Fried’s family foundation, called Building a Stronger Future, because “it does not seem appropriate to keep these funds.” Go figure.
The pair added that the money would be moved to a separate account until it is “decided by a bankruptcy judge or other legal authority where the money should be returned.”
The $1.6 million grant — which was meant to support investigations “into ongoing questions about the Covid-19 pandemic, biosecurity and public health preparedness — was the first of three payments, totaling $5 million over three years, that ProPublica was set up to receive from Bankman-Fried’s family foundation. The latter two payments have since been canceled because the organization terminated its relationship with the foundation.
ProPublica published one of the landmark reports into America’s handling of Covid, detailing the extent of Andrew Cuomo’s mismanagement of the nursing homes in New York State, resulting in numerous excess deaths. The June 2020 report was the first acknowledgement of the crisis outside of conservative media.
Cockburn applauds the move from ProPublica — it seems like the only decent thing to do. But the nonprofit was not the only media company to benefit from the fruits of Bankman-Fried’s “Effective Altruism.” Cockburn wonders if the others — Semafor, Vox Media and the Intercept — will follow suit and give up their Bankman-Fried cash. At very least, as Cockburn’s colleague Stephen L. Miller argued last month, “SBF-funded publications have an obligation to their readers to clear up the exact nature of their financial relationship with him, if they ever want their stories on this beat to be trusted again.”
Still, Cockburn thinks the best option is to pay back SBF’s donation. If a bankruptcy judge can’t decide the best place for the funds, Cockburn has Venmo…