Fareed Zakaria's Plagiarism Up for Debate

Fareed Zakaria's Plagiarism Up for Debate

Last week, CNN and TIME Magazine correspondent Fareed Zakaria got in hot water for plagiarism by lifting a few paragraphs from another writer for one of his articles. Now, the debate rages about whether Zakaria is guilty or not despite his admission of guilt in the original instance, he officially apologized for the theft.

A second charge of plagiarism has been lodged against Zakaria this week, a charge that has tongues wagging and the pro-Zaks coming out in full force to defend their man.

Zakaria himself complained to the Washington Post’s Paul Farhi that it has become open season. “People are piling on with every grudge or vendetta. The charge is totally bogus,” he said.

One of the most interesting defenses of the purported foreign policy expert is that none of this couldn’t be his fault because he doesn’t really even write the work that carries his name.

On Huffington Post, Eric Zusse almost excused Zakaria for his plagiarism because, Zusse says, Zakaria puts out far more content out there each month than is humanly possible. The plagiarism, he says, must have been the fault of a Zakaria intern or research assistant.

Why blame the assistant? Because it was probably the assistant that wrote the whole piece and Zakaria just fixed his name to it and sent it to press without taking much time to make sure everything was ship shape before hitting that send button.

But, if Zusse’s claim that Zakaria doesn’t even write his own work is true, wouldn’t that be an even more damning accusation of the CNN correspondent? The man is supposed to be a professional journalist, after all. And if he’s not really even writing his own work, well, wouldn’t that be a bit of a problem?

Still others dispute the anti-Zaks. Center left writer David Frum insists that Fareed is a peach of a fellow and all of these claims of plagiarism and what not are just a pack of lies.

“I have known Fareed Zakaria since 1986,” Frum writes. And presumably all you nay-sayers are no Fareed Zakarias!

Another possible victim of the Fareed’s plagiarism, The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, got some Zak support right from the horse’s mouth, Zakaria himself.

Zakaria emailed Mr. Goldberg insisting that he is really an innocent man because people lift others’ interviews of newsmakers without attribution all the time. Goldberg isn’t impressed by Zakaria’s defense.

“I don’t think the practice of non-attribution is quite so common as he thinks it is,” Goldberg writes. “It happens all the time, of course, but many writers are fastidious about correctly describing the provenance of a quotation.”

But another supporter of Zak is The Daily Beast’s Edward Jay Epstein who also offers a rather unique defense of Zakaria.

In Epstein’s world, Zakaria is innocent because he did give credit for the ideas to the person who was interviewed in the paragraphs he lifted. But that isn’t the problem, here. The problem is not whose ideas were presented but from where Zakaria got whole paragraphs almost word for word.

Epstein has his scoffers, though. Seth Mnookin took time off from wondering why is name is pronounced Ma-nookin even though he has no “a” in his name and slammed Epstein saying, “If copying multiple sentences, word for word, doesn’t count as ‘the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own,’ then what does?”

If you want more of this discussion — and who doesn’t — Andrew Beaujon has an interesting round up post of the talk from several pro-Zaks and anti-Zaks, enough so you’d want some Prozac just to forget it all.

So, the debate on whether or not Fareed Zakaria is a plagiarist — as he basically admitted he was in the first instance — or whether he should be excused, or whether he even writes any of his own work at all rages on.