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Monday, August 13, 2012

Fareed Zakaria -- What's Worse Than Admitting to Plagiarism?

Answer to the title:  Admitting that you've got other people doing your writing for you.  If Zakaria had really written the piece in question all by himself, he would never in a million years have copied word for word what someone else had written.  What happened here, almost certainly, is that someone in Zakaria's employ copied and pasted a bunch of articles and cobbled together an opinion piece for Zakaria, using mostly other people's thoughts, and -- as a result of pure sloppiness -- a couple of sentences worth of someone else's words.

Zakaria is a "brand" -- the ghost writer can get more money (and, in a way, more recognition) writing for Zakaria than he could writing for himself.  And Zakaria can make more money -- and have more fun -- doing stuff other than writing.

So the whole debate of "gee, it was only two sentences, what's the big deal" vs "how dare he try to pass someone else's prose off as his own" is way off the mark.  Someone needs to ask him point blank whether he really writes his own stuff.  And then we need to start checking up on everyone else . . . .

Update:  After writing and posting this I googled around, just to see how unoriginal I was.  Again, many others beat me to it.  Interestingly, the "farmed-out work" theory appears mostly in blogs, or comments to blogs.  The mainstream are still taking what Fareed says at face value, and then deciding whether the plagiarism is worth getting worked up about.  And now they are finding other examples of alleged plagiarism in his work (including his book about the "Post-American World" which I started but didn't finish), again without raising the obvious question.

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