Zakaria: The Chinese Water Torture of CNN Continues…

Posted in CNN on September 22, 2014 by icn2

Drip, drip, drip on CNN…going more and more mainstream. The Week’s Ryan Cooper questions why Zakaria still has a job…

Some of the examples Our Bad Media has turned up are blatant instances of verbatim copy pasting. Others rephrase and lift ideas and original research without attribution, which is still plagiarism. Some of these may be accidental, but the weight of the evidence makes a crushing circumstantial case.

This is especially so when you consider several occasions in which he repeated facts that were out of date. During his show on April 29, 2012, he restated several facts about “last year” from this 2011 Economist piece — but didn’t update them with current data, making them inaccurate. The idea that all of this is a coincidence simply beggars belief.


The comparison with Benny Johnson, who was fired by BuzzFeed after Our Bad Media similarly nailed him on plagiarism, is highly illustrative. Johnson also lifted research and language, and did some “patch writing” to cover his tracks. But if anything, Zakaria’s sins were worse. Johnson plagiarized to create worthless and offensive listicles about obvious, widely known stories. It was highly unethical, but not particularly harmful.

Zakaria, by contrast, swiped painstaking research about obscure subjects, such as when he bogarted exact language from The New York Times (see here and here) describing an analysis the paper had personally commissioned.

Benny Johnson is a right-wing clown. Fareed Zakaria, on the other hand, is a made man, one of the most famous and widely respected journalists in America. Accordingly, Our Bad Media’s findings impugn not just him, but half the journalistic establishment. It’s fairly obvious at this point that whatever the Post and CNN did to “review” his work back in 2012 was laughably inadequate. To sack him now would be to admit serious fault.

Indeed. What gets me here is that this 2012 review took place prior to Jeff Zucker taking over CNN Worldwide. Zucker could easily and effectively spin this as Jim Walton’s error and mount a new review to answer these charges. That he has not, I find simply stunning.

Meanwhile the bloggers from Our Bad Media have taken to the pages of Esquire to criticize CNN…with a big assist coming from’s News Editor Ben Collins who piles on in the forward…

This leads us to one of two conclusions:

1. CNN is afraid of the Wild West of Internet journalism, and what that might mean if old media outlets are subject to the same standards they project onto others.

2. Executives are uncomfortable with the names of these journalists being withheld (on Twitter, the reporters go by Crushing Bort and Blippo Blappo, comical aliases which have seemingly applied a low ceiling to their mainstream integrity) and the company would rather ignore it than pursue legitimate malfeasance.

Either way, this has become clear: CNN would rather employ, give airtime to, and defend a plagiarist whose resumé they find easy to personally explain and understand than someone who is doing actual journalism, but who might take more work to reach out to or understand.

Then the OBM guys chime in…

That the network’s own media reporter would have to “try” to get a quote from one of its own hosts over widely-documented plagiarism says everything about the dynamic at play here. Why would CNN defer to Zakaria on answering for why he plagiarized on their network? And what could he possibly say in his defense? That stealing material is defensible if the people who publicize it go by names that sound like third-rate Pokemon? Reporters have claimed as much publicly and in requests for interviews. They’ve told us that without going public, we can’t expect Zakaria to be held to account.

That claim, frankly, is bullshit. First, let’s be honest about needing names to verify someone else’s wrongdoing. Nothing about who we are will give readers a deeper insight into the wide span of plagiarism committed by Fareed Zakaria, and nothing about them gives his massive theft a pass. Our names would be an issue if our work couldn’t be checked. But everything we’ve posted is publically available information that can be verified independently by anyone with an Internet connection. There were no inside sources, disgruntled employees, or discarded scripts recovered from garbage cans. There was no plagiarism software used here, either. Finding examples of Zakaria’s plagiarism is as easy as a simple combination of Google and asking yourself common-sense questions like “would Fareed Zakaria really have reason to know this much about the growing rates of shampooing licenses?”

Second, reporters, media experts, and journalism professors have corroborated our findings. Byers outright called Zakaria a plagiarist last week in an article citing the director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Journalism Ethics and The Poynter Institute’s VP for academic programs. LSU’s Steve Buttry has called it “high-level plagiarism.” So even if we live in a world where our journalism requires charges of plagiarism to be verified by mainstream reporters and experts, that box has been checked.

Third, even BuzzFeed eventually took action when we pointed out less than a dozen examples of plagiarism by Benny Johnson. Why should CNN—which literally bills itself as “The Most Trusted Name In News”—be able to ignore what BuzzFeed wouldn’t? Why would a press corps so eager to discuss plagiarism when it involves a relatively unknown social media editor fall largely silent on when it’s committed from one of the biggest names in journalism? If Fareed Zakaria can get away with plagiarism because we don’t name ourselves, we’re not the ones who look bad: reporters are.

CNN now faces its biggest journalistic crisis since the Operation Tailwind fiasco. It’s no longer just Zakaria’s alleged plagiarism that’s the issue. It is the network’s dogged refusal to publicly acknowledge that it even has a crisis to deal with. As I said Friday this approach is unsustainable. As more and more mainstream sites turn their attention to this story, CNN will have to do something.

The Hazards of Live TV: 25,226

Posted in Hazards of Live TV on September 18, 2014 by icn2

Oh dear. Math was never my strong suit. Apparently I’m not alone

Free for All: 09/18/14

Posted in Free For All on September 18, 2014 by icn2

What’s on your mind?

CNN’s Current Public Position On Fareed Zakaria Is Unsustainable…

Posted in CNN on September 18, 2014 by icn2

Politico’s Dylan Byers comes down from the fence and proclaims the latest Fareed Zakaria accusations from Our Bad Media as plagiarism…

This week, I conducted a review of the reports to determine whether the instances they cited truly qualified as plagiarism. I also asked two journalism ethics experts — Robert Drechsel, the James E. Burgess chair and director of the Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Kelly McBride, the vice president for academic programs of The Poynter Institute — to review the reports. They came to the same conclusion I did: Fareed Zakaria plagiarized.

Wow…Byers is not known to throw accusations of this sort around on a regular basis so to see him come out and throw the P word at Zakaria made me sit up and take notice. This is going mainstream now.

Byers went to CNN for comment…

CNN declined to comment on this report but instead referred POLITICO to the statement it had released one month ago in the wake of Our Bad Media’s initial accusations.

“CNN has the highest confidence in the excellence and integrity of Fareed Zakaria’s work,” the statement reads. “In 2012, we conducted an extensive review of his original reporting for CNN, and beyond the initial incident for which he was suspended and apologized for, found nothing that violated our standards. In the years since we have found nothing that gives us cause for concern.”

Bad move. CNN is desperately hoping this blows over and everyone moves off Zakaria but something is twisting in the wind this time…and it’s CNN itself.

Seven of the instances in the OBM report occurred after Zakaria had been suspended in 2012, so this isn’t a case of OBM digging up plagiarism examples from before he got suspended which would amount to little more than historical footnotes in a storyline that turned a corner after the 2012 suspension. We have examples from after the suspension…meaning it is still going on.

This is why CNN continuing to “comment” by referring back to the previous statement which references whatever due diligence was done investigating Zakaria back in 2012 is an unsustainable approach. You can’t say you investigated and cleared him after he was suspended and you’re satisfied if he’s still doing it. You end up looking brazenly foolish…like you are living in your own little reality distortion field.

CNN must respond and clear the air. What’s going on with Zakaria now directly threatens the network’s journalistic integrity because the network’s current “duck and cover” head in the sand approach is leaving the network twisting in the wind as unanswered questions swirl around the it. To wit:

1. If the network is serious when it says it’s satisfied with what Zakaria is doing, is that not at the very least a tacit approval of “patch writing”?
2. If the network does not view it as “patch writing”, then what is it? What makes what Zakaria has gotten nailed repeatedly by OBM for different from “patch writing”?
3. What exactly did CNN tell Zakaria about what he can and cannot do? Did this discussion even take place?

Lastly, will Brian Stelter have the balls to even bring this subject up on Reliable Sources? Or will the network spike him? This is precisely why I was so sad to see Stelter join CNN in the first place. He’s now compromised by his position as a CNN employee from turning his journalistic eyes on the very network that employs him.

CNN, this is now a new scandal. This isn’t 2012. What you said a few months ago is no longer operative as a reliable strategy. Deal with it and deal with it now before it gets any worse…

Free for All: 09/17/14

Posted in Free For All on September 17, 2014 by icn2

What’s on your mind?

The Zakaria “Plagiarism” Saga: Part 3?

Posted in CNN on September 16, 2014 by icn2

Our Bad Media is back with another look at Zakaria and alleged examples of plagiarism…this time on CNN’s GPS.

It’s not surprising that CNN would stand behind Zakaria. What was curious about their statement was the claim that “In the years since [his 2012 scandal] we have found nothing that gives us cause for concern.” It was a response that seemed to imply that CNN has continued to review Zakaria’s show and other content for “lapses.”

After our own review of Fareed Zakaria GPS from 2011 to the present, we’ve found CNN’s claim is evidently false or a sign of gross incompetence at the network. Two dozen episodes of Fareed Zakaria GPS contain content that has been lifted without proper attribution or sourcing – including one he earned a Peabody for. One episode on vacation time was broadcast just two weeks ago. In other words, after having issued his only denial on the issue, Fareed Zakaria went back to plagiarizing while we were writing this blog post about him plagiarizing. It’s possible he’s plagiarizing right now.

OMB lists dozens of alleged examples of plagiarism by Zakaria on his show. The most damning for me is this one as it’s practically a smoking gun…

That’s where Zakaria sloppily gives his game away. The Economist article, written in 2011, cites the $400 billion Mexico did in trade with the U.S. “last year” – that is, 2010. Zakaria, apparently forgetting that The Economist article was written the previous August, also says “last year.” According to government statistics, the U.S. and Mexico did just short of $400 billion in trade in 2010. But in 2011, they did $461 billion in trade. So either Zakaria lifted this passage from The Economist, or he was off by the GDP of Luxembourg.

CNN is going to have to respond to this. There are too many instances listed for them to ignore it.

Blogus Interruptus…

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on August 28, 2014 by icn2
Dive, Dive, Dive!!!


Off to Indonesia where I will not lose any snorkels…I hope. Komodo, Lombok, and Bali await.

Blogging resumes September 16th. Longer if I…

• Go down in a plane crash.
• Get the bends.
• Drown.
• Have a heart attack while diving.
• Get stung by an Irukandji.
• Get kidnapped by Islamic fundamentalists.
• Get buried under volcanic ash.
• Get stung by a Box Jellyfish.
• Get busted for drugs that were planted in my luggage by smugglers.
• Contract malaria despite taking the pills.
• Contract typhoid despite taking the pills.
• Become shark bait.
• Get buried under rubble after a massive earthquake.
• Get swept away by a tsunami after a massive earthquake.
• Contract Japanese Encephalitis (I’m not paying $600 for a vaccination)

Diving is fun?


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