Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Plagiarism, Pt. 2 — Zakaria Cleared, Reinstated by Time and CNN

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Well, folks, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised — yet I am.

It appears that Fareed Zakaria, who blatantly plagiarised from a column by the New Yorker’s Jill Lepore for his most recent column at Time magazine, then got suspended last week from both CNN and Time (my earlier blog post about this is here), will resume his jobs in September.

Here’s tonight’s article from the Huffington Post, which states:

Fareed Zakaria is off the hook at both Time magazine and CNN after he admitted plagiarizing a New Yorker column last Friday.

The upshot of the article is, Time and CNN both have agreed to let Zakaria keep his jobs even though Zakaria most definitely plagiarised from Lepore.  Zakaria’s employers view this as an “isolated” incident, even though Jeffrey Goldberg from The Atlantic pointed out back in 2009 that Zakaria had also plagiarised him without attribution.

Basically, Zakaria is getting away with doing something unconscionable, merely because he is a celebrity.  This should not be tolerated, but apparently in today’s hyper-conscious celebrity culture, the bigwigs at Time and CNN just don’t care.

And by refusing to can Zakaria due to his plagiarism, it’s obvious that journalistic ethics — writerly ethics — have gone out the window at both CNN and Time.  Despite the fact that they’re supposedly devoted to the news.  Despite the fact that they should wish those who report the news for them will be honest, fair-minded, and at least have the common courtesy to properly attribute their sources.

I’m shocked that Time and CNN have chosen this course.  They’re both news-oriented organizations.  The people who work for them should be above reproach. 

Yet Zakaria no longer can be considered above reproach, if indeed he ever was — which is why he should’ve been fired without delay no matter how high-profile he is and no matter how much of a celebrity, either.

By retaining Zakaria despite his blatant plagiarism, both of Zakaria’s employers have proven that the almighty dollar matters far more to them than the truth.  Or ethics.  Or even common sense.

Even in this day and age, wrong is wrong — and we all know that what Zakaria did is plain, flat wrong.

Usually, committing blatant acts of plagiarism is the one thing that can get a reporter, host, or “basic writer” fired without an appeal.  It’s utterly wrong that Zakaria didn’t even have to sweat a little bit before he found out that he would, indeed, keep his jobs.

Instead, it appears he got what amounts to a “get out of jail free” card from his employers.

That’s wrong.

That’s shameful.

And it should not be allowed to stand.  Period.

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Written by Barb Caffrey

August 18, 2012 at 12:19 am

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