Hey, Fareed, You’ve Got A Paragraph; You Didn’t Write That – OpEd


He really didn’t.

In penning his recent piece “The Case for Gun Control,” Time editor and CNN host Fareed Zakaria actually made the case that he needs to focus on pen control. Because he plagiarized part of his work from a New Yorker article written by one Jill Lepore.

Zakaria was busted by NewsBusters, a feat that probably wasn’t too difficult since Lepore’s piece was published less than four months ago. A slick one you are, Fareed.

But this isn’t surprising when others grease the skids for you. While CNN and Time have suspended Zakaria, it’s damning that he has long been able to work and plagiarize another day. After all, as Hot Air pointed out, he has done this before—frequently.

This has made many wonder how, in an age in which even high-school teachers utilize online services to detect lifted work, Zakaria could be so stupid. Is he a compulsive literary kleptomaniac or just a leftist? Or did I just repeat myself? Hot Air offers another theory:

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.

In other words, perhaps Zakaria didn’t even write on his own the section he didn’t write on his own…so to speak.

Whatever the case, Zakaria isn’t alone. Hot Air mentions the recent example of The New Yorker’s Jonah Lehrer, who invented Bob Dylan quotations. The New York Times’ Jayson Blair also comes to mind (it’s always a bad sign when the guy’s parents didn’t know how to spell his name), and the site I just linked to mentions Stephen Glass’ fabrications at The New Republic. Then there is Pulitzer Prize winner Alex Haley; he used so many passages from a book titled The African when writing his own saga, Roots, that he had to pay damages to the former’s author, Harold Courlander.

Now, it’s not surprising that all these brothers in intellectual theft are liberals, as parroting groupthink substance makes it hard to cultivate original style. Admittedly, though, even real journalists, possessing insight, intelligence, integrity and ability, sometimes have a similar problem when citing facts that just can’t seem to be presented much differently than in their original source. So, for the benefit of Zakaria, I’ll explain what professional writers do. Zak, on the right-hand side of your keyboard, just left of Enter, is a key for a certain symbol: ”. Now, if you use two of them in this manner, “,” and place a limited amount of someone else’s work between them, it’s ethical to use that text in your own articles, assuming you provide attribution. Here’s an example: “Fareed Zakaria is stealing other people’s work ,” tweeted the little birdie.

Of course, Zakaria really could subscribe, like the man being quoted here, to the notion that “[i]f you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own.” After all, like that man, he had the right skin color for the white guys who didn’t start feeling guilty on their own and an ethnic name that just, well, dude, sounds so cool. He has the right accent, too, so he must be sophisticated. That’s some serious affirmative-action action there.

At the end of the day, though, one wonders why liberal entities would even take issue with plagiarism. Isn’t all this material just floating around in the collective waiting to be shared, from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs? And let’s face it: Zakaria’s journalistic needs greatly exceed his cranial ability. (No need for citation here, as it’s well known that Marx originated the ability-needs pap.

Except he didn’t.

He stole it from French socialist Louis Blanc.)

In reality, explaining Zakaria’s behavior requires only the understanding that leftists lie to themselves even more than they do to others. And while their rationalizations harm everyone—through the policies they advocate and the cultural effluent they disgorge—it is pleasing when, occasionally, the reality they’ve continually denied rears up and bites them in their chair-shaped brain housing.

Anyway, although you folks at CNN and Time are getting exactly what you deserve in Zakaria, wouldn’t it be prudent to cut him and let him paste away elsewhere? I mean, I know you have a Muslim quota to fill, but I’m sure there’s an acceptable replacement you could poach from Al Jazeera.

Selywn Duke

Selywn Duke is a columnist and author.

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