Billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman threatened to sue Business Insider after the outlet published two articles that accused his wife, Neru Oxman, of plagiarism in her 2010 doctoral dissertation.
Ackman said on Monday that Business Insider and its parent company, Axel Springer, “have tripled down on their false claims and defamation” after the outlet made plagiarism accusations against Oxman, a prominent designer and former MIT professor.
“By complaint I mean lawsuit, to be clear,” Ackman added on X.
Just hours earlier, Ackman said that Business Insider “is toast” in a post that included a scene with the quote “At My Signal, Unleash Hell” from the 2000 film “Gladiator.”
On Sunday, Business Insider’s top executive said they were satisfied with the fairness and accuracy of stories about Oxman following complaints from Ackman.
The plagiarism accusations came after Ackman campaigned against Harvard President Claudine Gay, who resigned earlier this month following criticism of her answers at a congressional hearing on antisemitism and charges that her academic writing contained examples of improperly credited work.
The outlet had raised both the idea of hypocrisy and the possibility that academic dishonesty is widespread, even among the nation’s most prominent scholars.
Business Insider’s first article, on Jan. 4, noted that Ackman had seized on revelations about Gay’s work to back his efforts against her — but that the organization’s journalists “found a similar pattern of plagiarism” by Oxman.
A second piece, published the next day, said Oxman had stolen sentences and paragraphs from Wikipedia, fellow scholars and technical documents in a 2010 doctoral dissertation at MIT.
Ackman complained that it was a low blow to attack someone’s family in such a manner and said Business Insider reporters gave him less than two hours to respond to the accusations.
He suggested an editor there was an anti-Zionist. Oxman was born in Israel.
On Sunday, Business Insider CEO Barbara Peng issued a statement saying “there was no unfair bias or personal, political and/or religious motivation in pursuit of the story.”
Peng said the stories were newsworthy and that Oxman, with a public profile as a prominent intellectual, was fair game as a subject.
The stories were “accurate and the facts well-documented,” Peng said.
“Business Insider supports and empowers our journalists to share newsworthy, factual stories with our readers, and we do so with editorial independence,” Peng wrote.
Ackman said his wife admitted to four missing quotation marks and one missed footnote in a 330-page dissertation.
He said the articles could have “literally killed” his wife if not for the support of her family and friends.
“She has suffered severe emotional harm,” he wrote on X, “and as an introvert, it has been very, very difficult for her to make it through each day.”
With Post Wires