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Fareed Zakaria Reinstated

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.

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  • Luke Lea

    Too good a man to lose.

  • TomG

    There’s not a lot I agree with Zakaria on, but it appears that his personal integrity matters to him. That is no small thing.

  • JAC

    I’m sure my students (or at least their parents) will recall this precedent when they’re caught plagiarizing in class.

  • Eurydice

    Perhaps they should have done a “thorough review” before they publicly branded him as a plagiarist.

  • vanderleun

    As a twofer he’d be hard to replace.

  • JAC

    When the author in question admits culpability and apologizes for his plagiarism, I think his employers are more than warranted in branding him a plagiarist.

  • Mick The Reactionary

    Let me see.

    Not a single one of Wall Street crooks was prosecuted.
    No one went to jail

    Goldman Sachs is laughing. Corzine of MF Global ($1.5B customer money has disappeared) is happily bundling cash for the Great Leader.

    Compare to all of this, what is one insignificant globalist hack plagiarizing from another hack.

    The Ruling Class is surely sticks for their own.
    Move on, nothing to see here.

  • Eurydice

    @JAC #6 – I would agree with you 100%, if said employer hadn’t turned around and declared the act for which he apologized an isolated and unintentional error – that is not the definition of plagiarism.

    @Mick #7 – if you really want to feel outrage, consider how Corzine is negotiating a deal to rat on his employees and then open up a new hedge fund. We may have to coin a new word for colossal shamelessness like that – perhaps “corzine”? Like, “That was a corzine thing to do.” or “He performed a double-corzine with one and a half twists.”

  • gavin

    the fact that the article was dopey anti gun boilerplate should have nothing to do with it.

  • Christopher

    Why are we so quick to let him off the hook? Most people could not care less. Yet, I would hope the readers and the writers of this blog might hold people in this area to a higher or at least some time of accountability.
    What is being to allowed to pass without punishment is disheartening. John Corzine should be on his way to prison. In no way do I say that plagiarism should be accompanied with prison time, yet a simple firing would be sufficient. CNN needed to do this to give at least a perception to the cost of impropriety that they want to report on so often.

  • Kenny

    Political correct and multiculturalism wins out over principle, such is the ‘brave’ new world we’re living in.

  • Yves Miedzianogora

    Zakaria may not be a total plagiarist but when he announces with a stone face on GPS that Iran “never commited an act of terrorism” one is left to wonder whether he should have plagiarized the work of more honest or intelligent writers……

  • WigWag

    JAC (#3) raises an interesting point. Perhaps Professor Mead could tell us what he would do if one of the students in a class he teaches at Bard did exactly what Fareed Zakaria did.

    Would he issue a failing grade or at least a poorer grade than the student might ordinarily have received? Would he reprimand the student? Would he conclude no harm, no foul and ignore the incident? Would he avert his eyes and pretend the whole thing never happened?

    How would you handle the situation, Professor Mead if the alleged culprit was one of your students instead of someone you consider a friend and/or professional colleague?

  • Luke Lea

    Upon further reflection:

    The practice of using a staff of paid reseach assistants to produce work under another person’s byline — nevermind using that “standard” practice as a defense against plagiarism — is morally questionable. Add in the lucrative speaker’s fees that these so-called authors are able to command and we have a formula for cocrruption. People are essentially being rewarded for what they are not.

    I know I first started wondering about this in the case of Chattanooga’s own wunderkind, Jon Meacham (whom I use to drive to his Anglican grammar school when he was still a wee lad). How could one man write so many books and hold down a full-time job as editor in chief of News Week? I kept asking myself. To say nothing of his many TV appearances.

    At least Walter Russell Mead is perfectly out front about the collective nature of his ViaMedia blog. I still marvel at the range and quantity (and quality) of his output, but I am not predisposed to think he is trying to put one over on us.

    Heck, he’s The Mouth of the South — one of the few verifiable intellectual prodigies born south of the Mason Dixon Line. I am proud to claim him as one of our own. (I mean that seriously.)

    It’s all about honesty.

  • Luke Lea

    On that “the-ghostwriter’s-did-it” plagiarism defense, see here:

    If America really is on the road to permanent cultural decline future historians will point to practices like this as part of the process. (Shame on Harvard.)

  • Mick The Reactionary

    @Luke Lea:

    “At least Walter Russell Mead is perfectly out front about the collective nature of his ViaMedia blog.”

    So Mead does not write this blog 100%.
    Who knew? I mean it seriously, I kinda thought that Mead has kids to do research, perhaps fact checking, but does writing himself.

    If Mead is not pretending that he along writes unsigned posts, why not attribute posts to the kids who actually wrote them?

    By the way, it is disturbing that Mead considers an impossibly smug globalist, crony capitalism hack and caught plagiarizer Zak as his friend.

  • Mick The Reactionary


    “Perhaps Professor Mead could tell us what he would do if one of the students in a class he teaches at Bard did exactly what Fareed Zakaria did.”

    Do you need to ask?

    A kid will sweat-out his well deserved ‘F’ for many semesters afterwards.

    Membership in the Ruling Class comes with privileges.

  • Carole Zartman

    Apologies are often too easy an excuse….BUT I am soooooo pleased Z was reinstated…..HE IS THE BEST OF THE BEST and has kept me informed……I will still recommend him highly.

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