When the news broke that Fareed Zakaria was suspended from his columns at Time and CNN due to accusations of plagiarism, Via Meadia was surprised. Plagiarism is a serious transgression that should not to be taken lightly, but we found it hard to believe that someone with such a gift for writing would feel the need to appropriate someone else’s work on purpose.WRM wrote at the time:
I was struck by the direct quality of his apology: no excuses, no laying blame on careless assistants or anything else. Fareed took responsibility for what happened and made no attempt in his statement to soften the facts. I note that Saddleback pastor Rick Warren tweeted that Fareed showed the right way to apologize, and I agree. (@RickWarren)It’s hard not to speculate about how this happened; in an age of cut and paste and quick deadlines, there are many more ways to get in trouble than there used to be. If I had to guess, I don’t think Fareed for one minute deliberately intended to appropriate someone’s work. I wouldn’t be surprised if a combination of working from notes, perhaps put together by a researcher, and great haste and carelessness had more to do with what happened than a deliberate decision to do something wrong. It’s a reminder to all of us in the writing biz to be careful and serious about getting it right, and to give credit where credit is due.
Now Time and CNN have announced that after a thorough review of Zakaria’s work, they are convinced that the error was accidental, and have decided to reinstate him:
“We have completed a thorough review of each of Fareed Zakaria’s columns for Time, and we are entirely satisfied that the language in question in his recent column was an unintentional error and an isolated incident for which he has apologized,” a Time spokeswoman said in a statement on Thursday. “We look forward to having Fareed’s thoughtful and important voice back in the magazine with his next column in the issue that comes out on Sept. 7.”
We’re glad to hear it. It looks like the right decisions were made.