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Media startup Semafor claps back at Tucker Carlson after FTX investment segment

(AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Tucker Carlson, host of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” poses for photos in a Fox News Channel studio, in New York, Thursday, March 2, 2017. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Semafor, a startup digital media outlet that launched earlier this year, is pushing back on criticism from Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who attacked the outlet for taking investment money from Sam Bankman-Fried the now-former CEO of infamous cryptocurrency exchange FTX. 

“Now that Sam Bankman-Fried has been exposed as a billion dollar scam artist, this poses problems for Ben Smith and Semafor. You’re not allowed to keep the proceeds of other peoples crimes,” Carlson said during a short segment on his hourlong prime time program on Wednesday. “Sam Bankman-Fried was the second biggest donor to the Democratic party. In the end we hear the Justice Department is looking into him. So he’s gonna get away with it, Ben Smith will get away with it, Semafor will get away with it.”

In a statement responding to Carlson’s segment, the news startup slammed the cable news host and dismissed his accusations.

“While we are thrilled that Tucker Carlson is turning his audience on to Semafor, Carlson’s narrative of “collusion” between our newsroom and Sam Bankman-Fried is a false, depressing attempt to convert the pain for FTX’s victims into television ratings,” a company spokespersons aid. “His ‘investigation’ discovered that Bankman-Fried is a Semafor investor because we initially disclosed it. There are specific legal rules that we will follow in handling that investment. We hope his viewers will read our tough and revelatory coverage of FTX and sign up for Semafor.”

Semafor was launched earlier this year by Ben Smith, a former New York Times reporter and Justin Smith [no relation] the former CEO of Bloomberg News. The company has reportedly raised millions in seed capital and hired a number of leading journalists away from other national news organizations as it looks to create what its leaders have said will be a global news brand.

Bankman-Fried has been embroiled in controversy over whether the failure of FTX is due to negligence and mismanagement or a fraudulent scheme wherein certain investors had their losses recouped and regular customers lost the value of their holdings.

The U.S. Justice Department is reportedly pushing for a investigation into Bankman-Fried and FTX.

In a note to staff last week, Justin Smith wrote the company had “set up a series of firewalls to ensure independence from our investors,” and pointed to the outlet’s coverage of FTX and Bankman-Fried as evidence of their editorial independence.

Smith, in his note to staff, wrote Semafor would “allow the various government agencies” decide “how to best handle his interest in Semafor.”

Tags Ben Smith Bloomberg News Department of Justice FTX Justin Smith Sam Bankman-Fried Semafor The New York Times Tucker Carlson
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