The Big Split: Bitcoin Uncensored Team Decouplebr>
Two best friends. One podcast. Multiple fans. One contentious issue. Many accusations.
That’s the nutshell explanation of the recent and acrimonious split of the controversial Bitcoin Uncensored podcast team of Chris DeRose and Joshua (Junseth) Unseth.
Considered by many observers to be one of the leading voices in the bitcoin/blockchain world – and recognized as same by at least one media outlet’s annual awards – the team of two “best friends,” as Junseth put it, were seemingly having a blast on the program.
Their acerbic wit and hours-long shows were growing an impressive reputation for frank yet incisive commentary. They were ribald, sometimes over-the-top in their comments, and not afraid to poke fun at their own foibles in the best manner of shock jock radio traditions.
The future seemed to hold endless possibilities for bigger and better things for the team, as they quickly became a must-listen for the alt-coin and fintech communities.
But all was not well in paradise. Junseth was increasingly drawn away by outside commitments, viewing the show as more of a hobby. That left most of the prep work to be done by DeRose. There was some bickering about that, and Junseth claims he offered to step down.
Even though the hosts’ show personas are admittedly caricatures, those real-life issues inevitably bled into the relationship. Perhaps resentment about the workload grew, and friction between the two became evident in some of the later podcasts. It was dry tinder just waiting for a spark.
And then, the incident happened.
Junseth had acquired some Rare Pepe’s – digital trading cards based on the infamous political meme – and talked about it on the show. He announced that he was going to sell them. There would be a decent profit. The two partners joked about it, and then Tweeted and livestreamed the sale, which resulted in a net profit of more than $25,000 to Junseth. He talked about donating the money to charity, and there seemed to be no issue.
Things quickly fell apart after that. Following that show, DeRose announced on the next podcast that he had fired Junseth.
WHAT WENT WRONG
“Chris was trying to manufacture a controversy,” says Junseth. “So he decided to go this route. I had some Rare Pepes that I sold on an exchange and I made a little money.”
Junseth admits that other time commitments were increasingly taking him away from the show. He claimed he offered to step down, but there wasn’t any pressure to make that happen. Or so he thought. Then the Pepe deal came along.
Despite the disclosure of his interests and the joking about the Pepe deal, “Between that show and the next, (Chris) got angry and decided to take the show for himself.”
Why was his counterpart so angry? “He would claim that I was pumping the thing and dumped on lesser fools.” That, of course, ran contrary to the show’s regular attacks on other touts.
But Junseth claimed that a recent segment on the podcast included a guest host with ties to an advertiser, a breach of the show’s claimed journalism ethics that he feels makes his Pepe deal seem a lesser evil.
“It’s just dumb,” he said of the controversy that led to his axing. “These (Pepe) are like baseball cards. I don’t think I would want to invest in them. It was my personal property. I sold it. The real reason is he wants to do the show himself and decided to manufacture a controversy instead of just letting me go.”
Chris DeRose Version:
DeRose, who is in Asia, responded via email to a query about the split.
“The gist of why we split has a few components to it. I think my being remote wasn’t helping. I think Junseth’s heart wasn’t in the show as much as it once was. But the core of the split was the Rare Pepe pump and pump. The core theme of our show is to expose bad behavior in the space,” he said, mentioning two “pump and dump penny stock boiler rooms” as examples of the attacking style.
DeRose sees parallels to those “pump and dump” practices in Junseth’s actions.
“When we pump and pumped Rare Pepe, and then Junseth dumped pepecash, I felt that it compromised the integrity of the show, and its message. For me personally, I didn’t see how I could continue to berate these scammers when I myself was condoning a significant deviation in our own behavior.”
Asked about the allegations of hidden advertiser participation in the podcast, DeRose responded: “Maybe, but I doubt it. Which ones? I don’t think I’m aware of any. Ohhhh, the Federal Reserve, maybe. We definitely promote their TIPS products. But we’ve been open about that.”
DeRose pointed to an episode of the Bitcoin Uncensored podcast for those still seeking answers. “So I think the “I am not your lawyer” podcast did the best job of exploring the breakup thus far.”
In the wake of the split, Junseth is concentrating on his home security company and contemplating other ventures. “I don’t know. I might do another podcast. I might sit low. I haven’t decided. We were best friends for years, and what you were getting when you listened was how a conversation goes in real life, although we were playing characters, in some ways. Junseth is a character.”
It may be the end of a partnership. But is it the end of a friendship?
“I don’t know,” said Junseth, wearily. “It’s very difficult. He’s been my best friend for a very long time. It was a little out of the blue. He knows it’s a hypocritical stance and will push until everyone agrees with him. I don’t. It’s always been a fun hobby, but it became more than that to Chris.”
For his part, DeRose, left the door ajar.
“Note that Junseth is both able and encouraged to continue doing Bitcoin Uncensored content,” DeRose said. “But I personally did not want to continue making that content in tandem.”
Two best friends. One podcast. One contentious issue. Many accusations. But maybe, some room for a reconciliation.