Business Insider Owner Axel Springer to Review Plagiarism Investigation Into Bill Ackman’s Wife

The corporate parent is responding to criticism over whether the article was newsworthy. Ackman led the charge over plagiarism accusations of former Harvard president Claudine Gay

A woman with light-toned skin gestures thoughtfully on a stage with a medium-blue backdrop and logos.
Neri Oxman (Getty Images)

In the ever-expanding circle of those caught in the current investigations of plagiarism in academia, most notably former Harvard president Claudine Gay, MIT academic Neri Oxman is under fire for alleged plagiarism in her own academic papers. The allegations were publicized in an investigation by Business Insider — whose parent company Axel Springer is conducting an internal investigation into how the stories came about.

Oxman, who also runs a startup, is the wife of hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, who led the charge into investigating Gay for plagiarism, ultimately leading to the university’s first Black president’s resignation. Ackman questioned why the media outlet was investigating his wife. Semafor reports that Business Insider’s owners are among those questioning whether the story was newsworthy and if the motivations for it being written were antisemitic, as Oxman was born and raised in Israel.

Insider global editor-in-chief Nicholas Carlson wrote in an email to staff that he stands by the story, while noting that Ackman and others have “raised concerns about our reporting process, as well as the motivation for publishing the stories.”

“The facts of the stories have not been disputed by Oxman or her husband Bill Ackman,” Carlson wrote. He also noted that he personally made the call to publish both pieces about Oxman, which appeared to reveal uncited plagiarism from Wikipedia, a textbook and other academic writing.

“I stand by our story and the work that went into it,” Carlson continued. “I know that our process was sound. I know our newsroom’s motivations are truth and accountability.”

As far as the investigation goes, Carlson wrote, “Our colleagues at Axel Springer have asked that we look at our process leading up to publishing the story, to make sure it meets our standards. I stand proudly by our newsroom and therefore welcome any sort of review of our work as I am confident it will put my colleagues, our readers and other stakeholders at ease.”

In its own statement, Axel Springer wrote, “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.”

It added: “We are going to take a couple of days to review the processes around these stories to ensure that our standards as well as our journalistic values have been upheld. We will be transparent with our conclusions.”

Axel Springer has also begun to face criticism for not publicly standing by the journalists at its own publication before an investigation had been completed.

Ackman first began to raise his issues with Insider’s investigation of Oxman on Friday, writing that they were given 12 hours notice before publication, which wasn’t an adequate amount of time to respond to the allegations of plagiarism. Ackman has gone on to say that he will be running current MIT faculty papers through an AI-powered plagiarism check, looking for others who’ve violated MIT’s policies on plagiarism.

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