After Fareed Zakaria was briefly suspended from Time and CNN for plagiarism in 2012, various publications he’s worked for claimed that they checked his work and found it was an “isolated incident.” Since August, anonymous Twitter users @blippoblappo and @crushingbort of Our Bad Media have been trying to prove that they didn’t look that closely by posting more examples of plagiarized work. This resulted in Newsweek placing a plagiarism disclaimer on all of Zakaria’s archived columns, but CNN and the Washington Post, which currently employ Zakaria, dismissed the allegations again. However, now Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt has admitted that five of Zakaria’s articles “strike me as problematic in their absence of full attribution.”
Hiatt was responding to a post Our Bad Media published on Monday that highlighted six articles in which Zakaria borrowed liberally from other sources without attribution (he did not agree that a 2009 column with the same theme as a New York Times editorial published days earlier constitutes plagiarism). “This is unfair to readers and to the original sources,” Hiatt said. “We will take a fuller look over the next day or two, but we probably will attach messages to the archived editions of the five original columns.”
Hiatt also defended Zakaria, saying all of the columns were published before the first plagiarism allegation in 2012, when the journalist said he mixed up his notes. “At that time, he said that he was overextended and that he would simplify his schedule to put more priority on his column and to make sure no such problems recurred,” Hiatt said.
On Friday Newsweek removed the editor’s note from all of Zakaria’s work and put specific corrections on seven articles. The magazine also published an interview with the bloggers behind Our Bad Media (who say they’re not journalists), in which they explain why they went after Zakaria. “Nobody else was doing it,” said CrushingBort. “It’s hard to convey the sense of disbelief in finding that several of the biggest and most respected news outlets in the country either lied about having reviewed Zakaria’s work or did it very, very poorly. Even more amazing is that they would turn a blind eye to post-2012 allegations.”