Fareed Zakaria is a journalist who hosts his own television show on CNN and writes a weekly column for the Washington Post. But how he still has a job as journalist is confounding, since he has admitted to plagiarizing stories in publications including Time and Newsweek.
Back in 2012, conservative media watchdog group Newsbusters pointed out how Zakaria used parts of his Time column on gun control from a story on the same topic written by reporter Jill Lapore of the New Yorker. “I made a terrible mistake,” Zakaria said in his statement. “It is a serious lapse and one that is entirely my fault.” For that transgression, Zakaria received a one-month suspension from Time and CNN, both of which were dropped to a week.
Jump to September 16, 2014, when the watchdog media blog Our Bad Media reported that Zakaria had not stopped plagiarizing since that 2012 incident. In fact they documented two dozen incidents on his CNN show alone. And now Politico’s Dylan Byers reports that Newsweek has put a plagiarism warning on all of Zakaria’s stories. In another blog post, Our Bad Media said the magazine found and corrected seven columns that “fail to meet editorial standards” and “borrow extensively” from other works without proper attribution. It also pointed out in the same post six instances of plagiarism committed by Zakaria in the Washington Post.
Once the revelations from Our Bad Media began to circulate, Slate put a warning on a Zakaria column written in 1998 about martinis and the Washington Post, which had defended him in the past, said it would put warnings on columns written before 2012. And CNN? They are still supporting him despite the transgressions pointed out by Our Bad Media and others.
Poynter’s Kelly McBride recently found that Zakaria was “overly reliant on his source material,” but dismissed it as “low level” plagiarism. Steve Buttry, a visiting scholar at the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University, disagreed in a blog post titled, “Fareed Zakari’s plagiarism wasn’t low level; nobody’s is.”
“Zakaria did everything you’re not supposed to do and nothing that you are supposed to do: He presented others’ work as his own; it was most certainly deliberate, though he was also careless; he hid the sources of his information from his audience; he betrayed the public’s trust; he violated the creators of original material; he diminished himself, the craft of journalism and the news organizations that amazingly have stood behind him; he didn’t attribute and he failed to credit nearly everything on the list of stuff you should credit,” Buttry wrotes. “What is low-level about any of that?”
Call me old school, but back when I went to journalism school at American University, the evils of plagiarism were drummed into our head early and often. And the list of journalists who have plagiarized is long, including Benny Johnson of BuzzFeed, Marie-Louise Gumuchian of CNN, Jonah Lehrer, Jayson Blair of the New York Times, Lloyd Brown of the Florida Times-Union and Kendra Marr of Politico, to name a few.
So the question I keep asking is: Why does Zakaria still has a job?