Opinion: The New York Times looks to have a real problem with Bitcoin

The New York Times (NYT) is one of the most vocal media outlets when it comes to criticizing Bitcoin’s electricity usage. But Bitcoiners claim that the 4,700-employee, 9-million-subscriber media company at best gets some of its facts wrong and at worst is running a concerted propaganda campaign against the currency.

There are endless varieties of frivolities that consume more energy than Bitcoin like hanging holiday lights or chartering an aircraft. Nevertheless, the NYT frequently focuses on Bitcoin’s alleged contributions to climate change, repeatedly catastrophizing the size of Bitcoin mines, and arguing that they significantly increase consumer electricity rates.

Bitcoin’s proof-of-work (PoW) approach to mining is the longest-running and most expensive guarantee against double-spending and forced blockchain reorganizations. Its 14-year cumulative hashing history and distributed legions of miners working in real-time, protect the world’s most valuable decentralized cryptocurrency.

Only PoW has proven resilience against multi-billion dollar conglomerate and state-level attacks.

Another anti-Bitcoin sensation

The Gray Lady’s latest article includes an allegedly Photoshopped image that exaggerates haze around a power plant in Rockdale, Texas flanked by Bitcoin miners. The article further claims the mining rig was increasing carbon dioxide levels in the local atmosphere. Pierre Rochard promptly debunked that claim in person, using an air meter.

The article claimed that miners took payments for empty paper promises like shutting down their operations during an electrical grid blackout and lied about using renewable energy that would have otherwise gone to waste. 

Riot Blockchain rebuffed those claims in a press release. It says it responded to a query from the NYT whose staff ignored the information it provided.

Ultimately, the story is just another installment in a nearly decade-long series of anti-Bitcoin journalism.

In 2021, the NYT claimed that Bitcoin mining used as much electricity as New Zealand. It also cited Digiconomist’s estimate that each Bitcoin transaction had a carbon footprint of 735,121 Visa transactions or 55,280 hours of YouTube watched.

Digiconomist’s founder co-authored a widely discredited study about Bitcoin and has used the publication for one-sided, negative press about the crypto.

Digiconomist works for the Dutch central bank and seemingly has a vendetta against Bitcoin.

Read more: How major Bitcoin mining pools calculate pay-per-share

New York Times questions contributions of Bitcoin miners

In its April 9, 2023 article, the NYT claimed Bitcoin miners didn’t provide substantial benefits like jobs or tax revenue. Riot Blockchain again debunked the claim, saying it employs hundreds of people and is one of the biggest taxpayers in Texas’ Milan County.

Apparent errors and bias in NYT reporting about Bitcoin mining are nothing new. For example, an article from February 2018 claims that electricity devoted to Bitcoin mining should be dedicated to other, “more productive” activities. Comically, in that article, a miner had overtaken an abandoned aluminum factory — one that was clearly no longer accomplishing anything productive

In all, searching the Times’ archive for coverage of Bitcoin mining reveals dozens of disparaging articles and Bitcoin’s defenders have, in turn, accused the outlet of spreading falsehoods. If these stories have achieved anything at all, it’s to force miners like Riot Blockchain to rebut its claims.

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