“Dishonest And Unprofessional”: Ackman Fires Off 77 Pages To Business Insider Over Claims His Wife Plagiarized


Bill Ackman is striking back at Business Insider, who recently wrote that Ackman’s wife, Neri Oxman, had “plagiarized from Wikipedia, scholars, a textbook, and other sources without any attribution” in her MIT academic writing. And as only Bill Ackman can do, he’s doing it exhaustively. 

The allegations came weeks after Ackman’s outspoken criticism of Harvard’s Claudine Gay, who came under fire for plagiarism in the weeks following her self-immolation, along with that of other university presidents, in Congress while talking about bullying of Jewish students. 

Ackman retained Libby Locke of Clare Locke LLP, “a firm best known for its recent representation of Dominion Voting Machine in its lawsuit against Fox that resulted in a $787.5 million settlement for Dominion”, he wrote in a post on X this morning, to try and avoid litigation with Business Insider by firing off a 77 page demand letter to BI’s parent company, Axel Springer, that he published publicly this morning. 

“Over my 35-year career, I have been the subject of many thousands of articles, including extremely negative, inaccurate, and libelous articles, yet I have never sued a media organization or a journalist,” Ackman said in a lengthy X post

“Beginning in early January of this year, Business Insider released a series of stories about my partner in life, @NeriOxman, that were defamatory, materially false and misleading, and designed to cause her harm, principally because the reporters do not like me, my support for Israel, and my advocacy to remove former Harvard President Claudine Gay due to her leadership failures, and her lack of moral clarity. These are not fantastical accusations. We prove them with detailed empirical evidence in a 77-page demand letter that we sent to @axelspringer  this morning, and that we are sharing publicly now,” Ackman wrote.

“After I posted weeks ago on @X  that I intended to sue @Businessinsider and its parent company Axel Springer for defamation, I heard from a number of people that I highly respect who strongly discouraged me from suing, pleading with me to find another solution to resolve this mess,” he continued. “These individuals did not question that Neri and I had been defamed, but rather they explained that Axel Springer has been perhaps the strongest long-term supporter of the state of Israel of any media organization, and also an important advocate against antisemitism.”

“Upon consideration of the advice we have received from people we highly respect and my opportunity to meet Mathias Döpfner, we are making an effort to avoid litigation by sending Axel Springer this demand letter in which we outline with particularity all of the facts around BI’s reporting of this matter, the factual inaccuracies in its reporting, Axel Springer’s false statements about BI’s reporting, and a proposed resolution,” Ackman wrote.

Photo: BI

“If we can resolve this matter as we have proposed, we can avoid litigation, and more importantly, we can hopefully end Business Insider’s unethical and unprofessional practices. If indeed Axel Springer is the professional ethical media company that I am told it is and it purports to be, it cannot continue to own and control Business Insider if it continues to operate as it has historically.”

He finishes: “Business Insider is well known for its dishonest and unprofessional journalism. BI’s actions here are sadly representative of its approach to journalism, and similar to its many other unfair, sensational, false and misleading attacks on high-profile people designed to satisfy the politics and preferences of its journalists, and to drive advertising revenues. Business Insider has caused enormous harm and reputational damage to many with its false and misleading reporting and unethical tactics. Remarkably, however, Business Insider’s CEO and Axel Springer’s spokesperson claim that Business Insider is a paragon of journalistic professionalism, ethics, and virtue.”

“I strongly encourage you to compare the above statements with the empirical evidence and other irrefutable facts that are included in our demand letter, and judge for yourself.”

The letter opens alleging that BI’s piece could have been retaliation by “anti-zionist” reporters:

“Ackman’s criticism, particularly of Claudine Gay, the former president of his alma mater, Harvard, did not sit well with Katherine Long (an Investigative Reporter at Business Insider), John Cook (Business Insider’s Executive Editor), and Henry Blodget (Business Insider’s Founder and Chairman), who have publicly expressed anti-Zionist and purportedly antisemitic views”

The letter continues, after arguing that the definition of plagiarism must include intent, arguing that MIT’s standards say plagiarism “does not include honest error.”

“They strategically crafted a series of events that culminated in Business Insider publishing eight articles falsely accusing Dr. Oxman of having “stole[n],” “lifted,” “recycled,” “cribbed,” and “passed off [as her own]” the work of other scholars.  Business Insider knew that those terms were false, inappropriate, and injurious, but nonetheless maliciously used them to describe inconsequential, non-substantive citation errors in Dr. Oxman’s dissertation.  Long, Cook, and Blodget repeatedly violated basic tenets of ethical journalism, including by lying to Ackman and Dr. Oxman, failing to give them any realistic time to review and respond to allegations against them, misrepresenting material facts, and purposely harming the subjects of their reporting to serve their political biases.  Their journalistic misconduct confirms that they acted with actual malice to injure Ackman and Dr. Oxman by manufacturing and widely publicizing the false and defamatory narrative that Dr. Oxman intentionally plagiarized in her doctoral dissertation and other works.”

Among the other allegations in Ackman’s letter are:

  • Business Insider’s allegations failed to recognize that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) does not mandate citations for information deemed common knowledge, a standard academic practice that nuances the understanding of plagiarism.
  • The publication is accused of omitting MIT’s policies that differentiate between intentional plagiarism and accidental or inadvertent non-citations, suggesting a misrepresentation of the institution’s stance on such matters.
  • The outlet is specifically charged with misrepresenting facts by accusing Dr. Oxman of copying a nearly 50-word passage from Claus Mattheck without attribution, a claim refuted by evidence showing that Dr. Oxman did not engage in such misconduct.
  • Furthermore, Business Insider is criticized for its portrayal of Dr. Oxman’s dissertation as being “marred by plagiarism,” allegedly ignoring instances where she did appropriately cite sources, including Claus Mattheck.
  • The publication’s reports are also said to have unjustly ignored Dr. Oxman’s citation of Wikipedia in her dissertation, despite MIT’s citation standards not requiring such acknowledgment at the time.
  • Business Insider’s assertion that Dr. Oxman committed literary theft was made without an investigation into her mental state or intent, which is crucial for substantiating claims of intellectual fraud.
  • The outlet is accused of misrepresenting Dr. Oxman’s acknowledgment of minor clerical errors as admissions of intentional plagiarism, suggesting a possible mischaracterization of her actions.
  • Accusations extend beyond the realm of academic integrity, with Business Insider also being accused of falsely alleging a quid-pro-quo relationship between Dr. Oxman and Jeffrey Epstein, implying an attempt to manufacture scandal.
  • In what is described as an act of retaliation, Business Insider reportedly doxed Dr. Oxman by publishing her home address, exposing her and her family to potential harm.

If you have a quick 12 to 15 hours on your hands, you can read the full 77 page letter to Axel Springer here – but we’re sure our wrap up has been exhaustive enough.

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