To most in the crypto community, mainstream media is viewed with intense skepticism. Most of these attacks come from mainstream outlets, from CNBC and Forbes to the New York Post and Bloomberg. For instance, one Bloomberg op-ed headline published in January 2018 reads: “Sorry, Bitcoin Fans. Digital Currency Is Still a Dream.”
But, Bitcoin and its devout followers may have found a mainstream media “inside man”, so to speak, that is heading one of CNBC’s top shows.
Meet Joe Kernen
The anchor’s name is Joe Kernen, a panelist and showrunner at CNBC’s “Squawk Box”, the station’s morning Wall Street show.
Ever since Facebook’s unveiled Libra, their soon-to-launch pseudo-centralized stablecoin, Kernen has come to an understanding of Bitcoin almost like he has had some sort of epiphany.
It all started last week, which was when the “Squawk Box” correspondents began to cover news of the Silicon Valley-backed cryptocurrency.
CNBC Anchor Downs The Bitcoin Red Pill
As many were claiming that this was a “cryptocurrency”, Kernen rebutted. The television star questioned Libra’s “inherent value”, discussing the fact that it will just be based on the United States Dollar and similar assets in that class.
Kernen even hinted at his mistrust of fiat monies, noting that the only thing backing paper currencies is the governments and central banks, then adding that the European Union leaders have begun to debase (inflate) the Euro.
And to put a cherry on the proverbial Bitcoin cake, he made the argument that a “real Bitcoin” may have more value than Libra due to the former’s decentralized blockchain.
Following the airing of this segment, Crypto Twitter, including many prominent executives and commentators, quickly lauded Kernen. Due to his newfound knowledge of cryptocurrency, Kernen continued his Bitcoin crusade the day later. After briefly calling himself a “Bitcoin bull” and a “god” of sorts, the Squawk Box personality quipped:
“Blockchain transactions create inherent value. But making a digital currency that’s based on a fiat currency doesn’t make any sense. If you put in a dollar and out pops a cryptocurrency worth a dollar, that’s not a cryptocurrency.”
Bitcoin is For The People
On Monday, Kernen took the time to bash Libra for the umpteenth time. After Bart Smith of Susquehanna laid out his thoughts on why Libra isn’t a cryptocurrency, the “Squawk Box” host then said something that was music to the ears of cypherpunks across the globe. Sounding like a Satoshi Nakamoto excerpt, Kernen explained that Libra is a currency for corporations, but Bitcoin is a currency built and used by “the people”.
This small yet notable comment confirms, according to Barry Silbert, that Kernen has entered the “five phases of Bitcoin acceptance”: dismissive, skeptical, intellectually curious, believer, and evangelist.
Fun watching @JoeSquawk going through the five phases of bitcoin acceptance. Seems Joe has just moved from Phase 3 to Phase 4
Phase 1: Dismissive
Phase 2: Skeptical
Phase 3: Intellectually curious
Phase 4: Believer
Phase 5: Evangelist https://t.co/4PerIdjjFr
— Barry Silbert (@BarrySilbert) June 24, 2019
To CNBC’s credit, the entire organization isn’t filled with seemingly anti-crypto commentators. On CNBC Africa, there’s Ran NeuNer, an early crypto investor and venture capitalist, that runs “Crypto Trader”, an occasional one-hour segment that covers conferences, price action, and news events in this budding industry.
And on the “Fast Money” and “Futures Now” segments, CNBC brings on well-known analysts, like Tom Lee and Brian Kelly, some of which have a good understanding of the space.
With this new knowledge that Kernen and his peers know more than they previously let on, many in the cryptocurrency ecosystem are hoping that CNBC can begin to take more balanced approaches towards this space. Whether or not this happens remains to be seen, however.