CNN host and Time magazine contributor Fareed Zakaria has been suspended by both outlets after Newsbusters reported Friday he had plagiarized a column. It was Cam Edwards of NRA News who first noticed the irregularity; he then tipped off Tim Graham at Newsbusters.
Tim Graham of Newsbusters reports:
When CNN host and Time editor-at-large Fareed Zakaria wrote a new piece called “The Case for Gun Control,” it ended with a bang: “So when people throw up their hands and say we can’t do anything about guns, tell them they’re being un-American–and unintelligent.”
Here’s something that suggests a lack of intelligence: plagiarism. Cam Edwards at NRANews.com suggested to me that Zakaria seemed to plagiarize a paragraph from an April article in The New Yorker magazine — with a modicum word-usage changes and interjections (Texas!) in an attempt to paper it over.
In response, Zakaria wrote the following apology on the CNN blog:
Media reporters have pointed out that paragraphs in my Time column on gun control, which was also a topic of conversation on this blog, bear close similarities to paragraphs in Jill Lepore’s essay in the April 23rd issue of The New Yorker. They are right. I made a terrible mistake. It is a serious lapse and one that is entirely my fault. I apologize unreservedly to her, to my editors at Time and CNN, and to my readers and viewers everywhere.
CNN’s Howard Kurtz addressed the scandal on his Sunday morning show, “Reliable Sources,” calling it an “insidious journalistic disease” and putting the plagiarized material up on the screen to contrast the words with original source. Kurtz ended the segment by saying:
Now, I have seen a number of plagiarism cases, far more extensive than this one, but that misses the point. Borrowing someone else’s words without credit is a cardinal journalistic sin, which is why Fareed Zakaria did one smart thing here, and that is quickly owning up to his mistake.
A one-month suspension (Time) seems pretty light for such a blatant breach of ethics.
In my experience, plagiarism is never a mistake.