Ackman Goes After The Media

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After Bill Ackman, a billionaire hedge fund manager, lashed out and vowed payback over plagiarism allegations against his wife, designer Neri Oxman, it appears this controversy has only deepened. First, it was claimed that Oxman improperly cited multiple authors and Wikipedia in her doctoral thesis at MIT in 2010.

Now, it seems there may have been even more instances of plagiarism found, including entire paragraphs lifted directly from Wikipedia without proper citations. While Oxman has apologized for the four improper citations, Ackman is pushing back against the accusations, claiming his wife did not have enough time to respond before Business Insider published their initial report.

In a lengthy and passionate defense of his wife on social media platform X, Ackman accused both Business Insider and Bloomberg of breaking a “sacred code” in journalism by going after an individual’s family members in order to attack them. He even implied that he could retaliate by going after the owner of the media company and his family in return. He also posted on X about his wife’s innocence by not citing Wikipedia.

Business Insider executives with Axel Spring publications issued a statement saying, “While the facts of the reports have not been disputed, over the past few days questions have been raised about the motivation and the process leading up to the reporting — questions that we take very seriously,” the company said. “All Axel Springer publications are committed to journalism that meets rigorous editorial standards and processes.”

The saga surrounding Ackman and Oxman has also dragged in another major higher education institution, MIT. Ackman, who led the charge against Harvard President Claudine Gay in the wake of plagiarism allegations that ultimately led to her resignation, is now targeting MIT President Sally Kornbluth. It seems Ackman is determined to see all three presidents who testified before Congress on campus anti-semitism in December resign in disgrace. He has also called for the entire Harvard board to step down for their “inadequate due diligence” in not catching the alleged plagiarism in Gay’s dissertation sooner.

While plagiarism is a serious issue in academia and should not be taken lightly, there are questions about whether this situation has been blown out of proportion. It’s worth noting that this controversy comes on the heels of Ackman’s high-profile activism against companies like Herbalife, where he has a substantial financial interest. Could his involvement in this plagiarism scandal be driven more by his own personal agenda rather than the pursuit of academic integrity?

Amid all this chaos, it’s important to remember that Oxman is not the only one facing accusations of plagiarism. Gay, Kornbluth, and University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill, who also testified before Congress, have all been accused of similarly improper citations in their own dissertations. It seems that Ackman’s crusade against Oxman may have opened a floodgate of scrutiny on other academic leaders, and it remains to be seen where this will all lead.

Forbes