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Business Insider CEO Defends Neri Oxman Plagiarism Coverage: ‘There Was No Unfair Bias’

On Jan. 7, MIT academic and entrepreneur Neri Oxman was accused of plagiarism in reporting from Business Insider. The story broke after former Harvard president Claudine Gay resigned from her post due to similar accusations — Oxman’s husband Bill Ackman was among those who led the march that resulted in Gay’s ousting. On Sunday, Business Insider CEO Barbara Peng defended both the accuracy and the motivations behind the outlet’s investigation.

In a letter published on Insider’s site, Peng defended the outlet against charges that the investigation into Oxman was unjust. In a series of bullet points, she wrote, “There was no unfair bias or personal, political, and/or religious motivation in the pursuit of the stories.”

“The stories were newsworthy and Neri Oxman, who has a public profile as a prominent intellectual and has been a subject of and participant in media coverage, is a fair subject,” Peng continued.

“The process we went through to report, edit, and review the stories was sound, as was the timing. Through their representative, Oxman and Ackman responded that they had made the decision not to comment.”

Peng added, “The stories are accurate and the facts well documented.”

Billionaire Ackman later responded on social media, writing, “Business Insider is toast. You will hear from us in a few weeks. It will look something like this: At My Signal, Unleash Hell.”

He linked to a clip from the film “Gladiator” include that quote.

Ackman had taken issue with the results of Business Insider’s investigation, which found that Oxman “stole sentences and whole paragraphs from Wikipedia, other scholars, and technical documents in her academic writing.” In a lengthy tweet posted on Jan. 9, Ackman wrote that he “personally disputed the facts (as well as the reporting process) of Business Insider’s stories initially in an approximately one-hour conversation with a director of Business Insider on Sunday morning beginning at 10:01am.”

Peng’s entire letter reads:

We are a journalism organization with high standards and a commitment to truth and fairness. Regarding the recent reporting on Neri Oxman, we feel it’s important to share the following:

  • There was no unfair bias or personal, political, and/or religious motivation in the pursuit of the stories. 

  • The stories were newsworthy and Neri Oxman, who has a public profile as a prominent intellectual and has been a subject of and participant in media coverage, is a fair subject.

  • The process we went through to report, edit, and review the stories was sound, as was the timing. Through their representative, Oxman and Ackman responded that they had made the decision not to comment.

  • The stories are accurate and the facts well documented.

Business Insider supports and empowers our journalists to share newsworthy, factual stories with our readers, and we do so with editorial independence.

We stand by our newsroom and our reporting, which will continue onward.

Barbara Peng
CEO, Business Insider

This story has been updated.

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