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