It’s a cautionary tale for any aspiring, especially cryptocurrency-centric, news publication: careful with facts, and even more so with interpretation of evidence. CNBC Africa’s host of the popularly televised Cryptotrader program, Ran Neu-Ner, was targeted by The Block’s Editor and its main analyst in a series of unflattering rants, which came awfully close to alleging Neu-Ner of wrongdoing.
The Block’s Editor and Analyst Publicly Apologize to Ran Neu-Ner
Cryptocurrency news outlet The Block’s analyst, Larry Cermak, and its Editor, Mike Dudas, are well known for taking to Twitter in an effort to vanquish foes. Be it a storm of charts and finger-pointing or in snarky comments about not being allowed into a major crypto conference, the two often mix a kind of journalism with heavy doses of swagger and bravado.
And while that might not change anytime soon, the only hours ago public apology for having done so at Ran Neu-Ner‘s expense was quick to separate The Block’s article from its Editor and analyst, and was uber careful not to publish the apology on its site proper nor through its formal Twitter account.
The story, leading to the muddled tweet rants, dealt with an in-depth investigation by reporter Frank Chaparro regarding the Blockchain Terminal (BCT) initial coin offering (ICO). Among the supposed revelations were how its project leader worked under an alias and previously served Canadian prison time for crimes while associated with a giant hedge fund back in 2012. Neu-Ner’s involvement is harder to suss out exactly, but it does appear he invested in the doomed ICO, and perhaps he promoted it as well.
Shameful Reporting, Embarrassing Rant
Neu-Ner responded by characterizing “shameful reporting by @TheBlock__ and the embarrassing twitter rant their head of research went on and then deleted.” He included a link to his Medium post on the matter, “An Open Letter to The Block.”
The CNBC Africa host was jumbled in the accusations of crypto celebrities giving an endorsement, or worse, by The Block’s Editor and analyst, of what turned out to be a grave fraud. It might have been very hard for even discerning readers to determine whether The Block was suggesting Neu-Ner was an active participant.
The Block maintains it did reach out to Neu-Ner prior to publication, but he insists it was a mere hours before and not nearly enough time (the industry standard is about 24 hours). He acknowledged having indeed invested in the ICO, which was never in question, and provided consulting services as well. He insists he didn’t take any money from investors, and once he discovered the project leader’s identity, he ceased all involvement. Neu-Ner also disclosed he too lost money on the project.
The Block’s Twitter account involved itself in the spat, refusing to address Neu-Ner’s objections. “We fully stand by our reporting. The article remains in its entirety,” came the response. It’s a curious parsing of responsibility in that The Block enjoys the fruit of colorful tweets from the likes of Dudas and Cermak, and yet attempts a kind of compartmentalization when things turn sour.
Neu-Ner exploded, “@TheBlock__ is using same tactics you applied when accusing me of ‘not a single correct call in 6 months.’ You were even worse, not even asking me for a reaction but just tweeting it and going silent when I replied with proof of 30 correct calls in the week before. Pot, kettle.” He appears to have been a relatively easy target in an industry-wide bear market that made every bull look incredibly stupid.
It’s difficult to know exactly what transpired to bring about a sea change, but Neu-Ner has all but forgiven The Block not quite 3 weeks later. After both Dudas and Cermak published an image of the apology on their personal accounts, not through The Block nor its Twitter handle, Neu-Ner lauded, “Recently @TheBlock__ broke a story about a fraud at BCT followed by tweets by @mdudas & @lawmaster that included my name.They published a public statement below. I am a fan of @TheBlock__ & hope to have interactions that will build Crypto & it’s credibility with them in future.” Neu-Ner’s tweets of condemnation and his Medium post were taken down.
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