Bill Ackman, the highly successful investor and Harvard graduate whose criticism of Claudine Gay’s history of plagiarism led to her resignation as President of Harvard University, published a lengthy tweet on his X account Saturday evening responding to an article about him published by The Washington Post earlier in the day, “How a liberal billionaire became America’s leading anti-DEI crusader.”
Ackman, who said he “spent several hours cooperating” with the Post reporter who wrote the story, explained he wanted “to increase the probability that the story would be accurate as the issues she was writing about were important, nuanced, and at risk of being misunderstood.”
“Despite my hopes, my optimism was misplaced as the public has been again misled, important issues are not addressed fairly or accurately, and false impressions have therefore been created in the minds of readers about important issues,” Ackman wrote in his Saturday evening tweet several hours after the story was published.
Ackman took particular exception to the false framing of the Post article:
The subheading of the story is:
“Bill Ackman used Wall Street tactics to oust Harvard’s first Black president. He’s part of a wave of business leaders attacking diversity initiatives spurred by George Floyd’s death.”
To translate for the Washington Post audience, a rich, racist jerk (or worse) used ‘Wall Street’ (read by the WaPo audience as “crooked”) tactics to fire Harvard’s first Black president. He is part of a group of other rich people (i.e., business leaders) who are opposed to diversity and who are indifferent or worse to George Floyd’s murder. In other words, the subheading explains that Bill Ackman is an anti-environment, anti-social justice, elitist warrior working to reverse recent social and environmental progress in the world. I also made the mistake of agreeing to be photographed. The subheading is followed by a portrait where half of my face is in shadow. This is a well-known media tactic to create the impression that the subject of the story is two-faced and evil.
Ackman went on in his 2,900 word tweet to meticulously destroy the claims made about him in the Post article.
He noted, for instance, that, “the reporter spoke to dozens of people I know for many hours, she only quoted a few of them, sources whose views, for the most part, were consistent with the theme that she was trying to advance in the article.”:
This approach to journalism is incredibly destructive to our confidence in the media, which in turn is enormously damaging to society. The second sentence in the article suggests that my views on DEI and ESG represent a massive ideological reversal for me because the story explains that: (1) I have been a long-term Democratic donor, (2) I have paid for thousands of scholarships for undocumented immigrants to attend college, (3) I have been a huge supporter of Democratic Senator Cory Booker, and (4) I have supposedly previously endorsed ESG in a letter to shareholders, which is untrue.
Ackman went on to note that his is “a strong believer in the importance of equity, by that I mean the common understanding of that word, i.e., fairness, not the equality of outcome that is demanded by DEI, and when not achieved, is deemed evidence of structural racism by the DEI movement,” and cited his previous writings on that point.
He added that he is a strong supporter of preserving the environment, but that ” the ESG movement has caused enormous harm as it has led to disinvestment in nuclear and carbon-based energy, and to our defense companies. This disinvestment effort has impaired our energy independence, led to more global environmental damage as production has shifted to regions of the world which care less about the environment than we do, enriched our enemies, reduced our defense capabilities, and has been one of the proximate catalysts for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”
Ackman also explained why he led the efforts to remove Claudine Gay as President of Harvard, and explained that he “greatly prefer[s] @X to advance ideas and learn from others, as my words can’t be edited, and there is a permanent record of what I actually said and when I said it.”
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Michael Patrick Leahy is the founder and CEO of the Star News Network, which includes The Tennessee Star.
Image “Bill Ackman” by Bill Ackman.