Yale reviewing relationship with Fareed Zakaria after plagiarism

Yale Daily News | Baltimore Sun | Hot Air | Forbes | Dallas Morning News
Yale may review its relationship with university trustee and alumnus Fareed Zakaria, the Yale Daily News reports, after Zakaria was suspended from Time and CNN Friday for plagiarism.

In a short statement to the News, University President Richard Levin said that he is “in the process of convening a meeting of the Yale Corporation Committee on Trusteeship to discuss the process for reviewing this matter, which we take very seriously.”

My coworker Craig Silverman writes about the fuzziness of news outlets’ review processes. The Baltimore Sun’s David Zurawik says academia actually moves faster than journalism when it comes to self-regulation:

Maybe I am a hopelessly out of date moralist, or maybe it is because I have taught media ethics for the last 20 years to college students, but I don’t care how smart someone is supposed to be, if they steal others’ ideas and words, they are dead to me as a source of intellectual or moral discourse. And if the media did a better job policing themselves in this regard, the public would have far more trust and confidence in us.

And now we turn to why. Allahpundit tries to account for Zakaria’s “bizarre” actions:

Could Zakaria maybe have been farming his columns out to an intern or assistant? That would be ethically problematic in its own right, but it might help explain this incident. A young ghostwriter has much less to lose in taking a risk like this and might well be more naive than Zakaria would be about the probability of being caught.

John McQuaid picks up the same thread: “How many of those star book writers, columnists, pundits, essayists, and TED talkers are just cutting corners?” he writes. He’s got another possible explanation:

Like many Davos globetrotters, Zakaria is a broker of ideas and memes on various issues, constantly processing them, turning them over, appropriating some and discarding others as he picks what to focus on. He is, in other words, not just a brand but an aggregator. …

The problem came when he crossed the line from simply appropriating other people’s ideas to copying (with a few tweaks) someone else’s language. Today, with text so fungible, information flowing from so many sources, and debates unfolding in real time, that’s easier than ever to do. And your brand and star power may convince you (or your interns and researchers) that you’re doing us all a favor by doing it.

Chris Vognar compares Zakaria to star athletes who try to boost their performances with drugs:

There’s enormous pressure to succeed in highly competitive spheres such as journalism and sports. That pressure doesn’t let up the higher you climb. It just intensifies. There’s always another rung on the ladder of success. It’s sad but hardly surprising when even the best climbers reach for an extra boost.

We have made it easy to comment on posts, however we require civility and encourage full names to that end (first initial, last name is OK). Please read our guidelines here before commenting.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gump-Chun/100003439078475 Gump Chun

    Given that the lifted passage could have been rewritten harmlessly in 90 seconds, I too have wondered how this happened. The two things that come to mind are:

    1) The “assistant” issue, using an assistant’s writings as your own in whole or part. I strongly suspect this was behind the plagiarism that Doris Kearns Goodwin and Stephen Ambrose were found guilty of. They can’t come out and say they were using an assistant’s writing as their own, given their own august reputations for wordplay, so they just clam up and take the plagiarism charge.

    2) The sloppy sources/cut and past issue. I suspect many writers who find previously written pieces whose ideas or format they want to use or be inspired by simply paste parts of them to the bottom of their own articles in the world processor for easy reference. If you are tired and on deadline, you could simply think that you wrote that paragraph, or had already changed it.

    Neither is in any way excusable. But it might explain how such an easily avoided transgression could somehow show up in a fine writer and thinker like Fareed Zakaria. It is a tragedy.

  • http://twitter.com/tummler10 Jerry Weinstein

    Clearly Poynter has no proper moderation. Your comment is despicable. It transcends ideological bent. It is simply out of bounds.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Egg-Man/681171228 Egg Man

    Actually, Allahpundit was linking to John Podhorest on the farming out theory, which I also posted on the other day here at Poynter: re ”Exit question via John Podhoretz: Could Zakaria maybe have been farming his columns out to an intern or assistant? That would be ethically problematic in its own right, but it might help explain this incident. A young ghostwriter has much less to lose in taking a risk like this and might well be more naive than Zakaria would be about the probability of being caught. Neither J-Pod nor I are trying to make excuses for him, mind you, just spitballing on how to account for something this bizarre.” re And now we turn to why. Allahpundit tries to account for Zakaria’s “bizarre” actions:

  • Anonymous

    LOL…are you serious? Looking at your past comments helps me understand that you are a typical leftist, devoid of any understanding of reality. Hush up now and let the adults have a discussion.

  • Anonymous

    given the incredibly broad definitions now being applied to various examples of “plagiarism,” virtually anybody who writes news or history can be nailed as a plagiarist. and i mean ANYBODY.

  • Anonymous

    lol. surely you are not serious. are you?

  • http://www.facebook.com/richard.aubrey.77 Richard Aubrey

    I don’t get it. Attributions, to me, increase the validity and value of an assertion. Means the writer is doing his homework and knows the field. The downside of attributing honestly is…what? Compared to the downside of getting caught.

  • Anonymous

    He could be revealed as a serial rapist and his leftist worshippers would still fawn over him and defend him. Liberalism is an ideology bereft of morality and honor, its acolytes are shameless and incapable of admitting error.

  • http://profiles.google.com/fukdoodle jay jay

    This green card pundit will hire a publicist, mumble a few middle east accented mea culpas, and be back in action before November. Hell, it’s not like the guy abandoned his girlfriend at bottom of a lake to drown in an automobile he crashed while driving drunk. Or heaven forbid, said something racist. Sheesh.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Drago-Harley/100002506646115 Drago Harley

    For years I have watched this nasty little man Fareed Zakaria work as a de facto propagandist for Barack Obama and the Left. Zakaria has often been the go-to guy for whatever anti-American meme the Left wants to push that day. I am enjoying every second of his comeuppance and disgrace.

  • Michael T Lyster

    Fascinating to watch other commentators line up to rationalize Fareed’s behavior. Would they do so for an athlete caught doping, as one writer noted in comparison? Doubtful.
    Plagiarism is a central offense in literature and journalism. Rules exist for a reason: not only to delimit the bounds of acceptable practice, but to warn others of the consequences when they are transgressed.

    I expect Yale to offer a ‘stern letter of censure’, or other empty phrase. As someone said in reference to international politics, when a leader announces that what Nation X has done is “unacceptable”, they have already decided that it is acceptable. And so it goes with the inbred, morally bereft world of professional journalism. Fareed will be chastised in a carefully orchestrated fashion, all the while with a wink and a nod. A year from now, he’ll be doing what he does today, and his employers will have ‘moved on’. To our detriment, and to the detriment of journalism.

  • http://profiles.google.com/licavolisr Michael Licavoli

    …could be he thought he was spreading democrat talking points.

  • Matthew Sablan

    I actually looked at Yale’s plagiarism policy; what Zakaria did falls squarely into what they define it as for their students. There’s no excuse for Zakaria not to get at least as heavy a sanction as a student would have. (More details here: http://recordingofinterestingthings.blogspot.com/2012/08/plagiarism-is-firing-offense.html)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AWGNY6R2P3RHSBQLQTT76SDKWQ Kenneth Conway

    Never fear! Mr. Zakaria, the shamelessly pandering Kim Kardashian of the TED Set, will rise from the ashes of his reputation like the phoenix of legend. Our cultural overloads have too much invested in the Darling of Davos for the commedia to close in any other fashion.