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Plagiarism charges resurface against Fareed Zakaria

Thursday, 21 August 2014 - 5:15am IST | Agency: DNA

Two anonymous bloggers writing in ourbadmedia.wordpress.com, have on Tuesday listed 12 more instances of plagiarism by well-known US policy analyst Fareed Zakaria, who was suspended on similar charges and then reinstated by Time and CNN in 2012.

Both Time and CNN in reinstating Zakaria, who is now consulting editor with Time and has a show on CNN, had said that they reviewed all his work and found that there was no real case of plagiarism against him. Ourbadmedia blogger, however, points out 12 instances, most of which have been cut and paste, others a direct copy of statistics on which Zakaria bases his entire column (and hence a copying of ideas).

Late on August 20, Zakaria defended these charges saying they were just data: "These are all facts, not someone else's writing or opinions or expressions," he wrote in his fareedzakaria.com. Zakaria says that the sources the bloggers point out in many instance are secondary sources, and not where he got them from. Also, he says that Time often never allowed hyperlinks and so it was not possible to source every data he had. In one case he says he never read the source article referred to in the blog.

However to the average reader, most of the charges seem to stick. The reason is that Zakaria used data and inferences gleaned from certain sources, and studies, passed it off as his own and spun entire articles based on them, not just as a passing reference. Some examples:

A February 2011 article on corporate taxes published in New York Times with analysis by Capital IQ, was used by Zakaria in October 2011 without attribution, to base his entire column on.

A July 11, 2011 article in The Daily Telegraph about Chinese government trying to delay release of Harry Potter in order to help a Chinese propaganda movie was also lifted by Zakaria without attribution.

Many points in his column on the Greek debt crisis in Time, May 18, 2012, was lifted from a Businessweek article "how to Save Greece'. Zakaria, however, says he had not read the Businessweek article but another book called This Time its different. Though he did not credit the book either, he says that he used the world "according to one estimate".

Once he lifted from another Time article itself: Original: "In 2009 Senate republicans fillibustered a stunning 80 per cent of major legislation" (2010): .The same sentence appears in Zakaria's August 15, 2011 article: The Debt Deal's Failure.
Apart from cut and paste of stats, the problem with Zakaria seems to be that he lifted entire ideas without attribution and thus presented himself as a thinker and unmatched columnist who had a grip on various issues around the world from China to Greece to the Middle East.

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