Time editor-at-large and CNN host Fareed Zakaria was suspended from both places for a month on Friday after admitting to lifting parts of a story from the New Yorker.
Conservative media watchdog Newsbusters was the first to spot the similarities between a Zakaria piece on gun control and an article by Jill Lepore that appeared in the New Yorker in April.
The Atlantic Wire posted a statement from Zakaria on Friday afternoon, taking full responsibility for the incident:
“Media reporters have pointed out that paragraphs in my Time column this week bear close similarities to paragraphs in Jill Lepore’s essay in the April 22nd issue of The New Yorker. They are right. I made a terrible mistake. It is a serious lapse and one that is entirely my fault. I apologize unreservedly to her, to my editors at Time, and to my readers.”
Later, Time announced Zakaria’s suspension:
Time accepts Fareed’s apology, but what he did violates our own standards for our columnists, which is that their work must not only be factual but original; their views must not only be their own but their words as well. As a result, we are suspending Fareed’s column for a month, pending further review.
CNN also said it was suspending Zakaria because he plagiarized the same material for a CNN.com blog post:
“We have reviewed Fareed Zakaria’s TIME column, for which he has apologized. He wrote a shorter blog post on CNN.com on the same issue which included similar unattributed excerpts. That blog post has been removed and CNN has suspended Fareed Zakaria while this matter is under review.”
Zakaria took liberally from Lepore’s piece on gun control.
Here is one passage Lepore wrote:
As Adam Winkler, a constitutional-law scholar at U.C.L.A., demonstrates in a remarkably nuanced new book, “Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America,” firearms have been regulated in the United States from the start. Laws banning the carrying of concealed weapons were passed in Kentucky and Louisiana in 1813, and other states soon followed: Indiana (1820), Tennessee and Virginia (1838), Alabama (1839), and Ohio (1859). Similar laws were passed in Texas, Florida, and Oklahoma. As the governor of Texas explained in 1893, the “mission of the concealed deadly weapon is murder. To check it is the duty of every self-respecting, law-abiding man.”
Here is Zakaria’s similar paragraph:
Adam Winkler, a professor of constitutional law at UCLA, documents the actual history in Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America. Guns were regulated in the U.S. from the earliest years of the Republic. Laws that banned the carrying of concealed weapons were passed in Kentucky and Louisiana in 1813. Other states soon followed: Indiana in 1820, Tennessee and Virginia in 1838, Alabama in 1839 and Ohio in 1859. Similar laws were passed in Texas, Florida and Oklahoma. As the governor of Texas (Texas!) explained in 1893, the “mission of the concealed deadly weapon is murder. To check it is the duty of every self-respecting, law-abiding man.”
Robert VerBruggen, a writer for National Review, noticed other portions of Zakaria’s article that hewed closely to Lepore’s as well.
This is not the first time Zakaria has come under ethical fire. Columnist Jeffrey Goldberg accused him of lifting quotes without attribution in 2009. He also caused controversy for his series of off-the-record conversations with President Obama, though he said they were no different than those the president held with any other journalist.