Billionaire Bill Ackman has announced his intention to sue Business Insider for defamation after the publication accused his wife, Neri Oxman, of plagiarism. Ackman claims that Business Insider and its owner, Axel Springer, have persisted in making false claims and defamation, and he and his wife plan to file a formal complaint, which will take a few weeks to prepare. Ackman made it clear that by complaint, he means a lawsuit.
Earlier this month, Business Insider reported that Oxman had plagiarized in her doctoral dissertation. Oxman, a former MIT professor, acknowledged the omission of quotation marks and apologized. She also stated that she would review the citations and request any necessary corrections from MIT.
Business Insider then published a follow-up article accusing Oxman of plagiarizing portions of her dissertation and other papers, citing passages from Wikipedia and other scholarly and technical writings. Ackman has questioned the accuracy and fairness of the reporting.
In response to Ackman's lawsuit threat, BI CEO Barbara Peng defended the outlet's reporting on Oxman in a note posted on Business Insider's website. When asked for further comment on Ackman's lawsuit threat, a BI spokesperson referred to Peng's letter.
These reports regarding Ackman's wife come after the resignation of Harvard President Claudine Gay, who stepped down amid allegations of plagiarism in her scholarly work. Ackman had called for Gay, University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill, and MIT President Sally Kornbluth to resign after their testimonies at a House committee hearing on antisemitism on college campuses. Magill resigned shortly after, but Harvard initially stood by Gay until she ultimately resigned due to the mounting plagiarism claims. She continues to be a member of Harvard's faculty.
It remains to be seen how the lawsuit between Bill Ackman and Business Insider will unfold.