- Elizabeth Holmes gave a series of pre-prison interviews to the New York Times.
- Holmes, once the youngest self-made female billionaire, was known for her throaty voice and black turtlenecks.
- The NYT presents the image of “Liz” — a loved-up mother of two who wears a “bucket hat and sunglasses.”
There’s a new Elizabeth Holmes in town, at least according to The New York Times — but no one’s really falling for it.
You probably know Holmes as the throaty-voiced, black turtleneck- and red lipstick-wearing founder of blood-testing startup Theranos. You know, the one convicted on four counts of fraud and conspiracy, and sentenced to 11 years in prison.
A May 7 profile of Holmes in The Times, however, presents the world with the image of “Liz.” She’s a loved-up mother of two who wears a “bucket hat and sunglasses” and walks about the San Diego Zoo talking to a reporter about her incredible life in a “soft, slightly low, but totally unremarkable voice.”
The piece attempts to draw a parallel between the Elizabeth who was convicted of four counts of fraud and conspiracy in January 2022 and who is now trying to delay the start of an 11-year prison sentence, and the “real Elizabeth.”
In one instance, while speaking to the Times’ Amy Chozick about actress Jennifer Lawrence pulling out of portraying Holmes in a movie — titled “Bad Blood” — the entrepreneur also pointed to her different personas.
“They’re not playing me. They’re playing a character I created,” Holmes told the Times.
But not everyone’s buying her story — or the rebrand.
The Times’ story was met with swift backlash, from Jezebel running a story headlined “Cute! New York Times Helps Elizabeth Holmes Launder Her Reputation Before Prison” to people putting the story on blast on Twitter.
Todd Schulte, the president of pro-immigration lobbying group FWD.us, wrote in a Sunday tweet: “Media outlets make choices every day on how they cover people in the criminal justice system. This story, by the numbers: 95 paragraphs(!); 0 uses of the term convict, felon, offender; 1 photo of the family at the beach; 1 subheader with “devoted mother.”
—Todd Schulte (@TheToddSchulte) May 7, 2023
Former CNN host Soledad O’Brien wrote on Twitter: “Nice to be a pretty white lady working your charm on a nyt reporter.”
“Reminder that she is a convicted felon who’s soon to start a sentence of more than a decade in federal prison,” wrote another Twitter user.
—chris evans (@notcapnamerica) May 8, 2023
Holmes’ tale did draw some sympathy online. “God forbid I get in any more back and forth on here today but I…..didn’t hate the Elizabeth Holmes profile? wrote one user.
To be fair, Chozick herself wrote in the profile that she got “swept up in Liz as an authentic and sympathetic person.”
Elizabeth Holmes did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment sent via her legal representative Lance Wade after regular business hours. The New York Times did not immediately respond to a request for comment.