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Financial Media Pushing Back on Washington’s Attack on Cryptocurrency

“The problem is that the anti-crypto army could come down to being one person, but she happens to be the most powerful person in the Senate when it comes to finance and banking.”

Rick Schultz

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The crowd is gathering. The trend is building. The inevitable seems to be upon us. Yet, a few stubborn holdouts continue their apoplectic tantrums, yelling and screaming for you to stay off their lawn. According to two experts in the digital assets and financial media space, this is what occurred last week as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and financial titan, Jamie Dimon, publicly railed against the assets and advocated for the American government to take a harder line toward controlling them.

“I think there’s debate at this point as to whether Elizabeth Warren works for Jamie Dimon or Jamie Dimon works for Elizabeth Warren. Hard to know, or maybe there’s just some mutual interest here,” The Wolf of All Streets, Scott Melker, said during his online YouTube program Friday. But it’s very clear that the rhetoric of the anti-crypto army and the actual attempts at legislation to stop this industry have continued and been pushed, and nothing that’s happened in the courts or the narrative is going to change that at all.”

Melker highlighted the week’s recent developments, introducing an article by Coindesk, which encapsulated the latest push by Democrat party politicians and big banks against digital asset freedom for the masses.

The article was titled, “Bipartisan Anti-Crypto Terror Financing Bill Heads to U.S. Senate”.

“On this one, when you dig down deeper in the weeds it talks about crypto very specifically. But I don’t think anyone’s against laws that make funding terrorists more difficult. I think the problem is that they then basically, surreptitiously name crypto as a way to control it in other ways that have nothing to do with terrorist financing,” Melker said.

“The issue with this type of thing has always been not about, not even about whether it’s sort of secretly targeting crypto. It’s the specifics of which parts of crypto infrastructure is it targeting,” Melker’s guest Nathaniel Whittemore said. “Ever since the infrastructure battle a few years ago, there’s been this current theme of lawmakers who don’t like crypto trying to say that validators and node providers and all this decentralized infrastructure needs to report on transactions. And they always say it in terms of, look they’re part of the mainstream ecosystem now and everyone who’s part of the mainstream ecosystem now has to comply with the same rules. Completely ignoring the fact that they don’t have any meaningful customer information on the people that are using the infrastructure that they’re supporting.”

Whittemore said the industry as a whole has been open and willing to adopt common-sense regulation to protect customers. 

“If all of these rules were written for just updates to what updates exchange responsibilities were, specifically centralized exchanges, no one would be batting an eye at this. The issue is in crypto, the issue is that it’s always a guise to sort of have more sense of a control over crypto, and it’s not just an error or misunderstanding. It’s a specific tactic,” he said. 

The duo echoed the sentiments of many in the digital asset ecosystem, who have pointed out that there seems to be a dwindling faction of the political and banking establishment that simply doesn’t want to give up control over the people and their financial freedom.

“It’s very hard not to watch the proceedings of this week and have it feel very last-graspy,” Whittemore noted. “It really reads like, one, Warren is going to be a long holdout. She will always be – even if the anti-crypto army is just her – she will be in it until the day that she dies. Right? That’s fine. But the whole sort of affair, it just feels forced. Everyone else is moving on, right? The markets and sort of Wall Street is certainly moving on in terms of its relationship with crypto.” 

There is much evidence to support Whittemore’s claim. From institutions like Fidelity, Blackrock, and even J.P. Morgan building solutions and products around digital assets, much of the mainstream financial system seems to be preparing for the inevitable continuation of the sector’s rise.

“All you have to do is look at the price charts and look at, you know, any comments from some Wall Street bank and, you know, or investor on any of the CNBC shows. The legal system is moving on. It’s cleaning up the parts that were bad. It’s proceeding through settlements with sort of the medium actors.  And it’s sort of, in spite of regulation by enforcement, it’s trying to sort of figure things out in court decisions. It’s only this very small subset of this anti-crypto army that’s not moving on,” Whittemore said.

“And it’s no surprise that the thing that they fall back to with that is, crypto is for criminals. That is the thing that you can always come back to. And in particular, right now they’ve got sort of a narrative juice of heightened tensions in the Middle East as a backdrop to make it feel more pertinent. But, it’s nothing new. It’s nothing new in terms of the assessment or the remedy. With the possible exception of Elizabeth Warren now claiming that half of North Korea’s nuclear program was funded using stolen crypto. But it feels, last-gaspy is the word that I keep coming back to.”

“The problem is that the anti-crypto army could come down to being one person, but she happens to be the most powerful person in the Senate when it comes to finance and banking,” Melker said. “This North Korea thing is just mind-blowing, that she can get away with saying this without providing any evidence.”

He then played a clip of Warren, from an appearance on CNBC last week. 

“It’s crypto, and it is being used for terrorist financing. It is being used for drug trafficking. North Korea is using it to pay for about half of its nuclear weapons program. We can’t allow that to continue,” the Democrat said.

Melker mentioned that there have been successful crypto hacks and heists coming out of the country, but asked, “Where does this claim that fifty percent of the nuclear weapon program, which has been around long before crypto, is funded by us?”

“We do know where it comes from,” Whitmore responded. “Once again, dubious reporting, where the funny reality of this is that to some extent our indignation is just us discovering how mainstream American politics works. Because we’re on the receiving end of it. But there’s nothing uncommon about cherry-picking a statistic from a dubious report and then using it to beat a point into submission. It just so happens that she’s doing it to crypto now.”

Whittemore explained how he believes the facts have been purposely twisted.

“This one is an even less robust report that basically just aggregates the amount of money hacked overall and then compares it to the overall amount of money spent by North Korea on its program. So just to be clear, they are saying there is one pile of money over here that was stolen. Here is another pile of money over here used for something by the group that maybe was involved in that stealing. Those are the same thing. She’s saying that those are the same thing,” Whittemore said.

“The problem with the nature of politics and media, which is a much larger problem than we can solve, is that the clip gets replayed over and over again. And even if a correction gets issued, which there’s no real accountability for, the sort of narrative is stuck.”

The public took note of Warren’s stance last week, as the O.G. digital asset — Bitcoin — hit an almost two-year high price of nearly $45,000 per coin.

Melker played another clip of Warren from last week’s Senate hearings, where she again said that terrorists are stealing crypto and using it to fund their harmful activities.

“Mr. Dimon, you’ve been CEO of J.P. Morgan for almost two decades. Can you explain why crypto is such an attractive tool for terrorists, drug traffickers, and rogue nations?” she asked.

“I’ve always been deeply opposed to crypto, Bitcoin, etcetera,” Jamie Dimon replied during the hearing. “You pointed out the only true use case for it is criminals, drug traffickers, anti-money laundering, tax avoidance. And that is a use case. Because it is somewhat anonymous. Not fully. And because you can move money instantaneously. Because it doesn’t go through, as you mentioned, all these systems that have been built up over many years. Know your customer. Sanctions. OFAC. They can bypass all of that. If I was the government, I’d close it down.”

“But J.P. Morgan is heavily invested. They have J.P. Morgan Onyx,” Melker said. “To me, this feels like they want to kill the public side by utilizing Elizabeth Warren’s narrative so that they can control private blockchains and Wall Street can utilize it at their own leisure without any decentralization or allowing us to have our piece of the pie.”

“Yes, I think that one can make the claim that this is self-serving from the standpoint of crypto being a competitor for banks,” Whitmore summed up. “But Jamie Dimon just f###ing hates us. He’s hated us forever. This is nothing new.”

As the Bitcoin bull run ramps up in 2024, proponents of sound money and financial freedom may keep one eye on the price charts and another on what might be the last gasps emanating from Washington.

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What to Do When Your Fear Your Media Career is Headed to the Graveyard

If you think about career death so much that it detracts from being in the moment, maybe it really is time to move on.

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A photo of a graveyard

“Do you guys ever think about dying?”

If you saw the Barbie movie, you know the line. Barbie is living the perfect and perfectly plastic life, perfectly choreographed and full of perfect smiles.

But the movie turns on that one line, basically shattering Barbie’s world with a concept no one there would ever have considered.

Death.

Why would you consider it when everything seemed in perfect order?

Well, when it comes to broadcasting and media, a lot of you think about dying … a lot. I do, too.

Of course, it’s not the stop breathing and get buried type of death but rather, the death of a career in media.

The truth is, when it comes to our business, very few people get to choose when it ends. Take a minute and consider a major media personality who truly “retired” after a multi-decade career.

It happens, but percentage-wise, it’s rare.

Take a minute and think. Name some. Name one. It’s not easy.

More often than not, you will get laid off or fired before you want to leave, and after a certain age, getting that next opportunity may be a bridge too far.

Then, you are done done.

That’s as much a music stopper as Barbie admitting she has considered her own mortality in the middle of the dance floor. Here on planet Earth, at least from the people in my orbit, the death of a media career often leads to even better professional options and more balanced lifestyle choices.

I have friends doing a million different things: Public relations, crisis management, content creation for large companies, political communications, fundraising, and teaching. Almost all of them tell me that it was such a stress relief to have a “normal” life, to not be worried about every pending contract or new boss.

Their work is appreciated. Their job is stable. And their schedule? Normal. Never has “normal” sounded so lovely than when they talk about watching shows with spouses, going out for a drink on a Tuesday, or having a regular pickleball game (or insert any middle-aged recreational sport).

I believe them.

Sort of.

The “sort of” comes from me not being able to actually envision that for myself. As enticing as it would be to see people on a more accessible schedule or play a weekly game with buddies, nothing beats talking and writing for a living. Nothing. And I am going to hang on until the lights are out, and we can’t pay to get them turned back on.

For me, I’m in too deep. I’m an indoor cat, incapable of survival outside.

Meetings. Deadlines. Reliant on other people. Meetings.

I’d be dead in a week. It’s beyond no, thank you. It’s, “I can’t”.

Sure, I have three teenagers and three college tuitions to pay. And two dogs. Two cars. And a mortgage.

Here’s where I am supposed to tell you that you should not only have thoughts about (career) death but also have a survival plan – a professional media-career living will if you would.

I should tell you that because you should.

But I don’t have one. And I don’t want one.

Why?

Because I don’t want to think about death anymore. I mean, I’ve already died twice. It wasn’t fun, and the third time most likely would be the charm in terms of getting me out of the business for good.

Why so stubborn? I don’t know.

Several times, I’ve said to myself, I need to make sure I have a backup plan … just in case. Each time, I find a reason not to get one.

Ultimately, what’s my point? Get a backup plan. Think about death. But it can’t take away from the essential joy of having the privilege of talking for a living. In that vein, don’t take it for granted. Ever. Even if the pay stinks and the schedule stinks. If you think about career death so much that it detracts from being in the moment, maybe it really is time to move on.

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Is the Fairness Doctrine Even Possible in Today’s Media Landscape?

Is it right for media consumers to judge what is “fair” and what is “unfair” news?

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A photo of an equal scale

As many media outlets shutter their doors, some have clamored for the return of the Fairness Doctrine. Newsweek released the results of their new way to connect with readers, by asking if its reporting is “fair.” Since September 2023, readers were asked to judge stories on the site, 78% said the outlet is “fair.” Another 22% found at least one story they read to be “unfair.”

AllSides Media has judged Newsweek to be center. However, let’s not forget they are the same outlet that wrongly claimed President Donald Trump was golfing on Thanksgiving in 2019. As Sheryl Attkisson noted on Full Measure this week, on Thanksgiving in 2019 President Trump was visiting troops in Iraq and the Newsweek story was fabricated.

While the reader assessment of Newsweek’s content is on par with AllSides Media, is it right for readers to judge what is “fair” and what is “unfair” news? If outlets like The Daily Caller (Right) or Vox (Left) would ask the same of their readers, would their echo chamber subscribers find them “fair?” While historically print (and later digital) outlets could (and still can) embrace the political leanings of their owner(s), from 1949 till 1987 TV news had guidelines they must adhere to: The Fairness Doctrine.

Long before Americans argued about bias in news, every TV outlet (there were only three major ones at the time) would follow “The Fairness Doctrine.” The Reagan Library notes the doctrine was “enforced by the Federal Communications Council, [and] was rooted in the media world of 1949. Lawmakers became concerned that the monopoly audience control of the three main networks, NBC, ABC, and CBS, could misuse their broadcast licenses to set a biased public agenda.”

To put it simply, the Fairness Doctrine made it so all sides of any story were presented. In 1985, under the Reagan Administration, the FCC found “the doctrine hurt the public interest and violated free speech rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.” Two years later, a panel under FCC Chairman Dennis Patrick repealed the Fairness Doctrine unanimously.

Keep in mind, at this point in time, CNN was the first and only 24-hour news network in the United States (it launched on June 1, 1980). Fox News wouldn’t be launched until almost 10 years after the Fairness Doctrine was repealed, on October 7, 1996.

Also happening at this time, large corporations (with lobbying power) were buying media outlets. General Electric purchased NBC in 1986. Westinghouse acquired CBS in 1995. One year later, ABC was bought by Disney. These purchases did not go unnoticed. Saturday Night Live even mocked the acquisitions in a now-banned short called “Conspiracy Theory Rock!: Media-opoly.”

The unwillingness of news organizations to cover both sides of a story has led to the creation of biased outlets including: CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, OAN, Newsmax, and others. None of these would be able to exist in their current form if the Fairness Doctrine wasn’t repealed.

News outlets that aren’t overtly biased use another trick to manipulate their viewers/readers, using emotionally charged verbiage. AllSides Media defines sensationalist words as presenting information in a way that gives a shock or makes a deep impression. This includes words like “shocking”, “heart-breaking”, “explosive”, “scathing”, “chaotic”, “desperate”, and “remarkable”… this list goes on but you’ve seen and heard these words from the news outlets daily. This is the media telling you how to react to a story instead of letting you determine how you actually feel after they present the facts of the story.

Today, what’s most concerning are outlets saying ‘fair and balanced’ news is a disservice to the public. An August 2023 NPR article explored just this, saying “Objectivity actually comes from an accurate examination of facts (actions, documentation, and even educated opinions) presented in transparent reports. Often, that coverage should also encourage audiences to examine supporting evidence for themselves.”

The problem with this is three-fold:

  • Selective fact presentation develops a one-sided narrative
  • An “educated opinion” is not a fact. It’s an opinion that is neither right nor wrong.
  • It is impossible for human beings to be completely unbiased (see January 31st column)

While it’s great Newsweek is asking readers if their reporting is ‘fair’ is the reader’s judgment neutral, or just as biased as the outlet they prefer to read? Sometimes when we are clicking to satisfy our own confirmation bias it’s hard to tell.

What the media and all Americans need to start recognizing is their own echo chamber. Knowing we all have some sort of bias is not a flaw but what makes us human. Our flaw is the inability to recognize our bias yet call out others for being biased just because they are on the other side of an issue.

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CNN Sees Biggest Viewership Jump During Super Bowl Parade Shooting Coverage

All news outlets spiked upon live breaking news coverage with Fox News — already the weekday afternoon leader in cable news — leading in total viewers.

Doug Pucci

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A photo of the CNN logo
(Photo: Getty Images)

The cable news outlets got increased viewership from two different news events during the week of Feb. 12, namely the shooting at the Super Bowl parade in Kansas City.

On Wednesday, Feb. 14, of the mass shooting at the Super Bowl celebration parade in Kansas City for the Chiefs football team. One person died and roughly two dozen others were injured.

All news outlets spiked upon live breaking news coverage with Fox News — already the weekday afternoon leader in cable news — leading in total viewers.

The following are what each network drew as the story unfolded on that Feb. 14 afternoon from Kansas City and how it grew from the same Wednesday time slots from Jan. 3 thru Feb. 7:

Fox News Channel

  • 3-4 p.m.: 1.656 million viewers (+18 percent)
  • 4-5 p.m.: 1.873 million viewers (+34 percent)
  • 5-6 p.m.: 3.175 million viewers (+7 percent)
  • 6-7 p.m.: 2.441 million viewers (+12 percent)
  • 7-8 p.m.: 2.250 million viewers (+4 percent)

MSNBC

  • 3-4 p.m.: 1.008 million viewers (+10 percent)
  • 4-6 p.m.: 1.504 million viewers (+7 percent)
  • 6-7 p.m.: 1.763 million viewers (+17 percent)
  • 7-8 p.m.: 1.474 million viewers (+13 percent)

CNN

  • 3-4 p.m.: 0.762 million viewers (+27 percent)
  • 4-5 p.m.: 0.913 million viewers (+35 percent)
  • 5-6 p.m.: 1.007 million viewers (+28 percent)
  • 6-7 p.m.: 0.985 million viewers (+43 percent)
  • 7-8 p.m.: 0.960 million viewers (+29 percent)

Newsmax

  • 4-5 p.m.: 0.343 million viewers (+23 percent)
  • 5-6 p.m.: 0.354 million viewers (+16 percent)
  • 7-8 p.m.: 0.547 million viewers (+13 percent)

Earlier in the week, on Tuesday, Feb. 13, the results were announced for the special election race for New York’s third congressional district between its former representative Democrat Tom Suozzi and Republican challenger Mazi Pilip. Suozzi left office in 2022 to run in the New York gubernatorial election but lost out to incumbent Kathy Hochul. Suozzi’s successor in Congress was the infamous George Santos who was officially expelled from office on Dec. 1, 2023 over charges of federal criminal laws including campaign finance fraud.

MSNBC and CNN were the only major national news outlets that provided live coverage of the special election results, stressing the significance of Suozzi’s eight-point win over Pilip as it reduced the GOP’s advantage in the House of Representatives by one.

From when the voting polls closed in New York at 9 p.m. ET, MSNBC easily topped CNN in total viewers at 9 p.m. (1.616 million viewers vs. CNN’s 0.847 million), 10 p.m. (1.903 million vs. CNN’s 0.879 million), 11 p.m. (1.112 million vs. CNN’s 0.541 million), and at midnight (774,000 viewers vs. CNN’s 299,000).

From 9-11 p.m. ET, though, both MSNBC and CNN scored the same performance among the key 25-54 demographic: a 0.15 rating at 9 p.m. and a 0.18 rating at 10 p.m. (Note: a 1.0 rating in 25-54 equates to 1.21 million viewers within the aforementioned age range.) 

For the 10-11 p.m. hour, when the New York candidate speeches had aired, CNN grew by 68 percent (in viewers) and by 80 percent (in 25-54) from its Tuesday 10-11 p.m. hour output from Jan. 2 thru Feb. 6 — a time period that included a Ron DeSantis town hall and New Hampshire primary results.

MSNBC was up as well at 10 p.m. hour — +16 percent in viewers, +33 percent in the 25-54 demo — using the same reference parameters.

Even though Fox News did not offer live coverage of New York’s special election results, Hannity at 9 p.m. (2.528 million viewers; 0.21 A25-54 demo rating) and Gutfeld! at 10 p. m. (2.357 million viewers; 0.31 A25-54 demo rating) still held the top spots in their respective hours on all of cable news.

Source: Nielsen Media Research

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