for me, this was personal
Oh, what a tangled web we weave ...
To my new subscribers — bear with me!
You don’t know me well enough yet to be familiar with my posting cadence, but I usually don’t send so many emails… I usually send 1-2 deeper/formal dives per week, but in the past two 2 weeks, I have been sending tons of short Claudine Gay updates.
The reason I am covering this story so extensively is simple: it’s the biggest scandal of the entire year, and I was the one to break it, on December 11th.
My heartfelt gratitude goes out to the anonymous source who sent me the crucial tip regarding plagiarism. Many of my stories are the result of anonymous tips.
This highlights the pivotal role that whistleblowers play in uncovering truths and promoting transparency; leaking documents isn't just about exposing individual cases of misconduct; it's a powerful tool for societal change. These documents often shed light on systemic issues, sparking public discourse and leading to reforms and substantive change — such as when a whistleblower leaked me the internal Ford Foundation listserv…
… which led to the Ford Foundation Fellowship Program being permanently shuttered!!
So, if you have any documents that could contribute to the public good — on any subject at all — I strongly encourage you to come forward. Throughout my career, I've collaborated with dozens of brave anonymous sources, and nobody’s anonymity has ever been compromised. I will keep your identity safe.
Email me, let’s change the world:
I spent Chrismas Eve in an airport:
I am currently in Romania.
If any of you are in Romania, send me an email, let’s grab a drink.
Also, please join my Discord server, where I hang out most days.
This discord server is full of economists, mathematicians, software developers, crypto bros, finance bros, basement dwellers, etc.
Warning: I believe in free speech, so there are also a few unsavory characters in there, and I do not moderate their behavior unless it is really bad.
Finally, if you are feeling the Christmas spirit, please consider becoming a paid subscriber to my Substack.recently made a great point about our high-risk, high-reward reporting:
This week, I broke the news that Harvard president Claudine Gay had plagiarized multiple sections of her Ph.D. thesis. The story dominated headlines, generated billions of media impressions, and revealed the rot inside the world’s most prestigious university.
After my investigation went public, the New York Post published a follow-up, which detailed an incredible twist. In October, the Post had confronted Harvard with evidence of President Gay’s plagiarism, to which the university responded with dramatic legal threats. And the intimidation worked: the Post sat on the story, rather than risk litigation. If I had not reported it, Harvard would likely have been successful in covering up the most significant plagiarism scandal in its history.
This is why I need your support. My reporting is high-risk, high-reward. I am dedicated to challenging the most powerful institutions in America, despite constant threats and intimidation.
This is a common theme in my reporting career — every few months, I get a threatening letter from some random lawyer demanding that I STFU.
I only report on truthful matters, so these threats do not faze me.
Usually, I tell these lawyers to pound sand, as was the case when I publicly responded to a vexatious cease and desist letter:
The only time that a lawyer actually succeeded in muzzling my reporting was when I wrote this article in 2022:
George Soros himself sicced his lawyers on me, and so that article had to be heavily redacted. I wanted to fight Soros, since I was right (and tbh I felt the drama from the fight would’ve been great publicity), but since the article was for a mainstream outlet, they felt it wasn’t worth the cost to lawyer up and fight Soros. So we reluctantly yielded.
Anyway, my point is, I engage in risky reporting. While an extra $6.99 per month won't secure the services of a top-tier attorney, I often find myself navigating legal matters independently, often by informally consulting with lawyer friends who generously offer their expertise at no cost. Given these circumstances, I believe it's reasonable to seek compensation for the risks I undertake.
As a special Christmas offer, I have created a 30% discount on a paid membership:
Or, if you prefer, here is a 60-day free trial:
The primary reason to become a paid subscriber is to get a warm and fuzzy feeling from supporting my jihad on woke academia and corruption more generally. The secondary reason is that when we return to regularly scheduled programming in 2024, I will start paywalling more posts, to offer more value to paid subscribers.
If you are a current paid subscriber and feel slighted at other members paying slightly less than you, I get it. Sorry, that is the reality of e-commerce. We talked about this in my Substack writer group chat:
It’s also worth noting that this Substack is my primary source of income, ever since I left my salaried job as an investigative journalist at the Daily Caller. I need money to live.
Sometimes, people bully me for ‘‘getting fired’’ from The Daily Caller.
They are wrong.
For example, when Bill Ackman tweeted out my Curious Case of Claudine Gay article last week:
Which was QT’d by Elon Musk:
Which resulted in insane traffic to the article—an article I wrote 2 years ago, but didn’t get any traction until now:
Ben Golub, Professor of Economics at Northwestern, took Bill Ackman’s tweet as an opportunity to talk shit about me in a now-deleted tweet:
The guy behind this is a total hack — he was fired from Fox News for failing to meet journalistic standards.
First off, I never worked for Fox News, lol, he’s whining about my ‘‘journalistic standards’’, yet he doesn’t have any himself. Golub doesn’t know what he’s talking about, yet, complains so confidently using fake facts to one the most powerful men in the world, on the biggest stage in the history of the world, at the peak of the most viral story of the year.
Golub continues his whining:
What he says about these controversies is baseless and made up. There are legitimate criticisms of President Gay but his stuff is complete trash.
You can ask anyone you're in contact with at Harvard economics to calibrate on just how clueless this is.
(By the way, I was the beneficiary of some of the Pershing Square research funds while on the faculty there - grateful for your generosity.)
I will let EJMR respond to him:
What Golub is attempting to refer to is my tenure as an investigative journalist at the Fox-News-adjacent Daily Caller.
Or, more accurately, I worked at ‘‘The Daily Caller News Foundation’’, a non-profit arm of the Daily Caller that totally isn’t a tax shelter.
Is that true? Was I ‘‘fired’’ from the Daily Caller, Ben?
Well, let’s examine the timeline.
My last day employed at The Daily Caller was March 12, 2022.
I published this story on my Substack on March 13, 2022:
Do you think that timing was a coincidence?
Was I fired for ‘‘failing to meet journalistic standards’’, as Ben Golub speculates, or did I quit my job to publish these leaked internal Harvard documents and to pursue a Claudine Gay investigation because The Daily Caller wasn’t interested in pursuing the story —too much legal risk for too little payoff, they said?
In the 3 months following my quitting, I published over a dozen dozen articles about Claudine Gay, doggedly pursuing her. I thought I nailed her dead to rights.
''I can’t stress enough how much of a tragedy a Claudine Gay presidency would be — this musn’t be allowed to come to pass. She will ruin Harvard.''
— Karlstack, October 21, 2022
Sadly, my dozen articles about Claudine Gay in 2022 had no impact.
I thought I had such a powerful story on my hands, I followed my instincts, and yet, it didn’t gain any traction. Maybe the Daily Caller was right, maybe the story wasn’t as important as I thought. Maybe my gut instinct was wrong.
So, there I found myself, without a salary, with barely any savings, having quit my salaried job to pursue this Harvard/Claudine story, it didn’t pan out, and now my only choice was to bet on myself by doubling down on Substack.
So, that’s what I did.
In order to stretch out my savings, I moved to Mexico for 6 months for the cheap rent, to pursue my dreams, because I believed in myself.
He who has a why, can bear almost any how.
Moving to a Mexican favela to focus on becoming a professional writer is a risk worth taking. Solitude allows me the time and space to dedicate myself fully to becoming what I want to be; to becoming who I want to be. No distractions. I feel like a monk.
All things that are truly great are at first thought impossible.
The purpose of existence is to live as a fierce individual who has unlimited freedom and agency in their own life, and I believe that Substack can give me that freedom and agency. When I reach 1,000 paid subscribers I will be truly free… I will be uncancellable.
If I fail to reach 1,000 paid subscribers, so be it. I know of no better life purpose than to perish in attempting the great and the impossible.
So, as walk out onto my balcony and gaze upon my Mexican favela, I don’t see a sea of squat, impoverished Mayans… I see greatness.
— NOV 5, 2022 Karltack.
It was during my time in Mexico that I received my first big break as a writer.
Life has a way of working itself out.
The American Conservative, the best conservative magazine in America, reached out to me and asked me to write an article about Mexico.
I then parlayed that article into a longer-term ‘‘contributing editor’’ gig at AmCon, which is why I am now traveling the world. I am truly lucky and grateful to them that I get to live my dream job — in fact, many people’s dream job — when I talk to aspiring writers, they always say ‘‘I wish I could travel the world and write about it’’, but such opportunities are exceedingly rare.
So, after quitting my job and moving to the 3rd world to break the Claudine Gay story, it is now finally starting to pay off, years later. My gut instinct paid off. I am vindicated.
I am now at 214 paid subscribers:
Always bet on yourself.
I doubt Ben Golub has ever taken a risk in his life.