Axel Springer launches probe into Business Insider’s reporting on Neri Oxman

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By Dan Sears

Business Insider parent Axel Springer said it’s investigating the outlet’s “processes” after billionaire Bill Ackman questioned the motives behind its reporting that his wife Neri Oxman plagiarized in her 2010 doctoral dissertation at MIT.

Axel Springer said it’s going to take “a couple of days” to “review the processes” around two Insider stories related to Oxman, a spokesperson for the German media giant told The Post.

“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 we take very seriously,” the company said.

“We will be transparent with out conclusions,” Axel Springer added.

The German media giant — which also owns Politico — also said “our media brands operate independently,” in its statement.

Billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman questioned Business Insider’s motives for publishing an investigation that claimed his wife, Neri Oxman, plagiarized dozens of times in her 2010 PhD dissertation. Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Oxman — a Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate who went on to be a tenured professor at the university from 2017 to 2021 — was the subject of Insider’s two reports, published Thursday and Friday, claiming that in total, there were at least 32 instances of plagiarism in her dissertation and other papers.

In response, Ackman took aim at the possible motives behind Business Insider’s coverage of Oxman — alleging that the editor of the stories is a “known anti-Zionist.”

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“The Editor of the Investigative group of Business Insider who is leading the attack on my wife is John Cook,” Ackman posted to X on Sunday.

“He is a known anti-Zionist. My wife is Israeli,” added the billionaire founder and CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management.

“That might explain why he was willing to lead this attack and others turned down the source when they were looking for a media outlet,” Ackman wrote of the plagiarism allegations, where Insider pointed to pages of Oxman’s 330-page dissertation and “virtually identical” sentences on a variety of Wikipedia pages.

Insider’s global editor-in-chief Nicholas Carlson has since shared an internal memo, which said that he stands by the two stories in question.

“It is my responsibility to publish fair, independent and newsworthy journalism. I made the call to publish both these stories. I stand by our story and the work that went into it. I know our process was sound. I know our newsroom’s motivations are truth and accountability,” Carlson wrote to staff, per a screenshot of the memo shared to X.

Cook declined to comment on Ackman calling him an anti-Zionist.

Ackman — a vocal critic when ex-Harvard president Claudine Gay was on the receiving end of plagiarism allegations — has bashed Insider for similar claims against his wife, even suggesting that the outlet’s probe was triggered by inside sources at MIT.

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In one instance of alleged plagiarism, Insider pointed to page 81 of Oxman’s dissertation and the Wikipedia entry for “Weaving,” which boasted passages that are “virtually identical.”

In the same post on Sunday, Ackman attacked Insider for breaking the “sacred code…that you can attack the protagonist as much as you want, but not his wife and not his kids.”

“You never go after someone’s family to get at a business person,” Ackman added, suggesting that the investigative reporters behind the explosive claims sought to take him down.

All the while, Ackman has been pushing for MIT to fire it’s president, Dr. Sally Kornnbluth, who was in attendance at the controversial congressional testimony on Dec. 5, 2023, in Washington, DC, where she was accused of implying “calls for genocide of Jews may not constitute bullying and harassment under MIT’s code of conduct, depending on context.”

Ackman bashed Insider editor John Cook as being a “known anti-Zionist” trying to slander the reputation of his renowned academic wife, who’s Israeli. C-Span

Representatives for Ackman at Pershing Square and Oxman at her latest venture, a biology and materials engineering firm called OXMAN, did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.

Oxman herself has yet to respond to Insider’s fresh allegations, which Insider says “are closer to a more common definition of plagiarism — the use of someone else’s words without any indication that you are passing them off as your own.”

Following Insider’s initial report published Thursday about four improperly-cited passages in Oxman’s dissertation, Ackman also suggested that the investigation took place because he “struck a chord.”

Ackman has demanded that MIT fire its president, Dr. Sally Kornbluth for, in his opinion, not doing enough to end antisemitism on campus. REUTERS
Axel Springer said it’s investigating the outlet’s “processes” after billionaire Bill Ackman questioned the motives behind its reporting that his wife Neri Oxman plagiarized in her 2010 doctoral dissertation at MIT. Getty Images

“You know that you struck a chord when they go after your wife, in this case my love and partner in life, @NeriOxman,” he shared to X on Thursday, just minutes after Oxman admitted that she did, in fact, fail to correctly cite four paragraphs of her 330-page PhD dissertation, which falls under MIT’s definition of plagiarism.

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Ackman, who shares one child with Oxman and has credited his fund’s success to his marital bliss, called his wife “human” for admitting to four of the alleged instances of plagiarism despite bashing ex-Harvard president Claudine Gay over similar accusations.

Last week, after it was revealed that Gay would no longer be Harvard’s president but would remain part of the Ivy League’s faculty and keep her nearly $900,000 salary, Ackman said on X that Gay should leave Harvard altogether due to “serious plagiarism issues.”

“Students are forced to withdraw for much less,” wrote Ackman, who was accused of “bullying” Gay into her resignation from his alma mater. “Rewarding her with a highly paid faculty position sets a very bad precedent for academic integrity at Harvard.”

Ackman, 57, whose net worth is pegged by Forbes at $4 billion, married the 47-year-old Israeli-born academic in 2019.

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