Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History Investigates Columbia University College Rankings Scandal

UPDATE: Columbia University has become the “first major university” to drop out of the U.S. News Rankings for undergraduate schools per the New York Times. This, only days before the public release of Malcolm Gladwell’s investigation.

The Pushkin Prize for Egregiously Deceptive Self-Promotion

Consider this your invitation to the greatest award show no one’s ever heard of: the Pushkin Prizes, created to honor the giants of the American education system. This year, Malcolm…

Bestselling author and podcaster Malcolm Gladwell will reveal the outcome of his investigation into the Columbia University college rankings cheating scandal in a special new episode of hit podcast Revisionist History on June 8, 2023. 

Columbia dramatically rose from No. 18 to No. 2 in the U.S. News & World Report overall 2022 college rankings, a feat that proved to be as questionable as the rankings themselves. Columbia mathematics professor Michael Thaddeus’ discovered that the prestigious Ivy League institution had provided the publication with several “inaccurate, dubious or highly misleading” data discrepancies upon which the meteoric rise was based, resulting in a plummet back to No. 18.

“I’ve been saying for years that the U.S. News rankings are a fraud. Now we have an elite institution involved in what looks an awful lot like an attempt to defraud that fraud,” Gladwell said. “It’s like if someone wrote Bernie Madoff a bad check. It’s a bit of a head spinner. But that’s what we specialize in at Revisionist History.” 

In the immediate aftermath of the scandal, Columbia University seemingly sought to brush the incident under the rug in a press release that stated how they “are now closely reviewing” their processes “in light of the questions raised.”

That was one year ago. Since then, Columbia University has failed to properly address their wrongdoing — in clear violation of their own code of conduct — and refused further interview on the matter when contacted by Gladwell to date. This has left Malcolm with only one option… to investigate it himself.

“We did a forensic audit of all of Columbia’s biggest whoppers with the hope of figuring out whether this was a calculated attempt to hijack the ranking system,” Gladwell explained. “I’ll say this. It doesn’t look good for Columbia.”

Malcolm Gladwell’s investigation into Columbia University’s cheating scandal will air on his Revisionist History podcast on June 8, 2023. If you, or someone you know, has information about this matter, text Malcolm directly at 917-423-6439 or send an email to

Correction: A previous version of this announcement stated Columbia University refused further comment when contacted by Malcolm Gladwell when in fact they refused an interview. Ben Chang, vice president for communications and spokesperson for Columbia University, offered an emailed statement to Gladwell after months of prompting in which he began: We deeply regret the deficiencies in our prior reporting and are committed to doing better. Anything less than complete accuracy in the data that we report is inconsistent with the standards of excellence to which Columbia holds itself.

Stay tuned for more as the story develops…