- Herbalife had insinuated in a series of public comments that Bill Ackman may have been behind the financing of critical documentary “Betting on Zero”
- Ackman and Pershing Square have denied financing the film and Director Ted Braun has stated the same as well as publicly reiterated his commitment to creating an objective look at the saga
- CNBC’s Scott Wapner broke yesterday that John Fichthorn of Dialectic Capital was the financier behind the film. Fichthorn has no position in the stock, Wapner stated on Twitter
- Fichthorn will be on CNBC’s Halftime Report on Monday at 12PM EST to talk about funding the film
- In light of this new information, Herbalife’s anti-documentary film website “BettingonZero.com” looks even more ridiculous than it originally did
If you have been invested in or just curiously watching the Herbalife saga, you have likely wondered who the mystery party was that financed Ted Braun’s critically acclaimed documentary “Betting on Zero”, a documentary film that makes a “convincing and emotional argument against Herbalife’s pyramid scheme,” according to IndieWire.
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For those that haven’t yet seen the film, I was able to review it just hours after its world premier. You can read that full review at this link. For a chance to see the film, you can follow its festival schedule and further updates at the Betting on Zero Twitter account.
The film draws obvious anti-Herbalife conclusions as a result of Director Braun’s commitment to objectivity and examination of the facts, rather than due to a preconceived bias. Herbalife has disagreed publicly and insinuated that Ackman financed the film.
The intent behind the film has been called into question so voraciously that Herbalife launched its own anti-film website, registering BettingonZero.com before the filmmakers could and raising questions about both the content and the financing of the film on the site and in public statements.
Here’s how the LA Times described Herbalife’s website:
The website makes a number of allegations, essentially arguing that Braun is in the pocket of Ackman and has not made an objective film. The site, which is clearly labeled as backed by Herbalife, intimates Ackman himself financed the film and draws connections between a co-producer, Devin Adair, and Ackman from their time at Harvard University in the 1980s.
Here’s an example of some of the statements on the Herbalife sponsored BettingonZero.com. One asks “Is an interested billionaire behind the ticket sales?” while another states “…the team behind Betting on Zero has not disclosed who is funding the film, but we can guess.”:
Pershing Square has stuck to the same simple narrative since the beginning, which appears now to very much resemble the actual truth: they had nothing to do with financing the film. Ackman told Bloomberg in April:
“Neither Bill Ackman nor Pershing Square played any role whatsoever in the making or financing of the film, directly or indirectly,” the firm said in a statement. “Pershing Square did allow the filmmaker to film various public presentations that Pershing Square made about Herbalife and to interview Bill Ackman on several occasions.”
Since the film’s inception and its sold out debut at the Tribeca Film Festival, Herbalife and its supporters have been silently insinuating that Bill Ackman is behind the funding of the film. Those suggestions have continued, despite Mr. Ackman going on record several times and stating that he had absolutely nothing to do with the funding and that he wasn’t involved.
Like I did when I read the FTC’s complaint, I found the truth to again side with Mr. Ackman yet again, moreso than with Herbalife.
Yesterday, Scott Wapner broke on Twitter that the film was funded by John Fichthorn of Dialectic Capital. Fichthorn will be appearing on Wapner’s Halftime Report on CNBC Monday to discuss his involvement with the film.
In terms of objectivity and fact-finding, Wapner continues to lead the televised media on following the Herbalife story.
While it is clear that Director Braun wants to take an objective look at the situation, you cannot help but come out of the movie rooting for the victims and feeling educated on the basic pitfalls of what being an Herbalife distributor could entail.
Again, the movie’s strength lies in its ability to tell the story and tell the truth about the company in a manner that would resonate very quickly and very clearly with a national audience of varying intelligence levels. The movie could very well turn out to be a PR nightmare for Herbalife if it gets picked up for national distribution. It is very easy to see how this film could easily be compared to documentary exposes like Blackfish or Super Size Me.
And with that, another small chapter of the saga closes.
Again, Ackman seems to have been telling the truth when he said he had no involvement in the funding of the film and again, Herbalife seems to have…well, let’s just say that the BettingonZero.com website looks even more ridiculous today than it previously did.