Wise-Compare.com: Empowering Wise Decisions.


“If you want to read a moral condemnation of crypto theft, you can get that anywhere. You go to Michael Lewis for character and story.”    –Matt Levine


Michael Lewis’s new book “Going Infinite: The Rise and Fall of a New Tycoon” came out this week. I got a copy earlier after signing an NDA that I would not disclose anything about it until after the publication date or 60 Minutes, whichever came first.

I watched the 60 Minutes interview Sunday night, as did everyone interested in crypto (or Lewis). I had just finished Going Infinite, so it was fresh in my mind. The interview closely tracked the book, with no big surprises.

Well, maybe one surprise, the immediate backlash: Lewis has jumped the shark, his career as a writer is over, he beclowned himself, he is defending FTX fraud and the indicted felon SBF, I always knew he was a fraud/idiot/sycophant, etc. My favorite Twitter reaction to the broadcast interview might have been “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?”

Let me remind you that none of these folks had read the book, which was deeply embargoed until after the broadcast (I had to sign a very aggressive NDA to get it a week early). My guess is those be the take-it-or leave-it terms if you want to do a rare 2-segment interview on 60 Minutes.

My biggest complaint about the book is that I had to read it quickly to prep for yesterday’s MiB interview; my normal process with any work from Lewis is to slowly, delightedly luxuriate over them, typically while on vacation.

Social media excels at just a few things, but none more than “Manufactured Outage.” I wanted to tap into that vein of outrage so I could ask Lewis uninformed and angry questions (even when I knew the answer). Just because a backlash is an ill-informed lynch mob mentality doesn’t mean it can’t be useful. So I posed the question on Twitter: “If you were interviewing Michael Lewis on FTX & SBF, what would you ask him?

Mixed in with the vitriol and ignorance were lots of good questions. I cut and paste two pages of them, and managed to work a lot into our conversation. Did he get too close to his subjects? (“I always get up close and personal with my subjects, this was no different”); How much did FTX pay him? (LOL); How did the death of his daughter affect his writing process” That’s something I won’t even attempt to describe here but instead encourage you to listen to his beautiful and heartbreaking response.

I got in as many Twitter questions as I could in our limited time. What makes Lewis a great interview is the same thing that makes him a great writer. He gives long, thoughtful, detailed answers, and if I had 2+ hours I would have let him wax eloquent the entire time. But there was so much to get to I constantly jumped in with follow-ups and new questions. Next interview, when we are less time-constrained, I’ll do what I usually do with Lewis, which is to just give him a nudge and stay out of his way.

I understand that Twitter engagement is down, and so to have any sort of response, some twerps engage in greater outrage. Don’t just blame Elon, as Axios shows, engagement is off even more at Facebook.

As to the mainstream media, the reviews in the NY Times, LA Times, and Washington Post have been unkind. And while I disagreed with their key takeaways and enjoyed the book a lot, at least these folks akshully read it before writing their critiques. Sure, they brought some personal baggage to the criticisms (some heavier than others), but so do the rest of us.  Speaking of which:

Full disclosure: I have known Lewis on a professional basis for the better part of a decade; I’ve interviewed him a half dozen times, sat at a bar drinking alone with him late into the night, and have had a few meals with him. I have a good professional, working relationship with him as an author. After his daughter died, a mutual friend suggested I give him a call, and I said I didn’t want to intrude. She insisted, and I was on the phone with him (mostly listening) for about an hour. I came away impressed with his humanity, and his personal recognition that despite his recent tragedy – or perhaps because of it – he was very aware of how much good fortune had fallen unto his life.

I’m careful not to imagine friendships with famous guests of the show to whom I serve as a useful idiot, but he is a one-of-a-kind person I am very happy to know personally.

That mutual colleague who suggested I call him mentioned to me last December that Lewis would be in NYC for a few days around the 25th anniversary of Liar’s Poker, did I want to pull together a dinner?

On very short notice, the table looked like this: Michael Lewis, Richard Thaler, Jim Chanos, Matt Levine, Rebecca Patterson, Charity Dean, David Nadig, and myself. I wondered aloud as to possible crimes and made some specific guesses – for which Lewis thoroughly disemboweled me. Chanos leaned over, and loudly said, “As your attorney, I advise you to stop speaking.”1 It was hilariously, delightfully humiliating.

I share those so you know the biases I bring to this interview. I am an opinion writer and podcast host, and so my approach is different than that of an objective journalist. But I believe that full disclosure is the best policy, and so you can hear our conversation informed as to my perspective.

He once surprised me, saying something I initially disagreed with but eventually came to recognize as truth: the book you write and the book the public reads are two different things. That was never truer than with SBF, FTX, and Going Infinite.

Lewis, for his part, laughs off the criticism. He finds joy in writing, and while this might have been a different sort of book, it is thoroughly his, through and through. My suggestion? Read the book. At the very least you will find it informative and entertaining.






1. This was not the first time my counsel Jim Chanos had shared that advice with me.


The post Cancelling Michael Lewis appeared first on The Big Picture.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *