Zakaria Penalized for Plagiarism…and Reinstated

The 2012 Commencement speaker used excerpts from a Harvard professor’s New Yorker article.

International affairs expert Fareed Zakaria, Ph.D. ’93, LL.D. ’12, the principal speaker at last June’s Commencement, was suspended Friday, at least temporarily, by both Time magazine and CNN for plagiarism after he used uncredited text in his most recent column for Time, datelined August 20. Writing about gun control, Zakaria included specific historical details from an article, “Battleground America,” by Kemper professor of American history Jill Lepore, that appeared in the April 23 issue of The New Yorker.

He is also the host of the CNN international-affairs program GPS and used parts of the same text on his blog; the cable-news channel has therefore disciplined him as well. In a brief statement posted August 10 on his CNN blog page, Zakaria wrote: “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.”

A detailed chronology of the incident has been compiled by The Atlantic Wire.

Zakaria was taken to task in the media earlier this summer when news reports noted similarities between his Harvard Commencement address and the speech he had delivered at Duke barely two weeks earlier—a case of borrowing only from himself.


Update: On August 16, both Time and CNN revoked their suspensions of Zakaria. CNN issued a statement announcing that its rigorous internal review had found nothing that merited continuing the suspension, and added:

Zakaria has apologized for a journalistic lapse. CNN and Zakaria will work together to strengthen further the procedures for his show and blog.

Time’s announcement, as quoted in the New York Times, stated that the magazine had

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.


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