CNN's Kurtz Credits NewsBusters With Exposing Zakaria's 'Cardinal Journalistic Sin' of Plagiarism

On Sunday’s Reliable Sources, CNN host Howard Kurtz lashed out at CNN’s own host Fareed Zakaria for committing plagiarism in a gun control article for Time magazine. Kurtz gave credit to us: “A conservative watchdog site Newsbusters, acting on a tip from the NRA, broke the story that Fareed's column was not entirely his own work.”

Kurtz put the two passages side by side on the screen to underline Zakaria’s copycat routine and pounded Zakaria for committing a “cardinal journalistic sin,” and the “latest case study of an insidious journalistic disease.” It’s too bad journalists aren’t this upset about sloppy bias. (Video and transcript below)



HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: Fareed Zakaria is a smart journalist who did a dumb thing, by his own admission. The "Time" magazine columnist acknowledged Friday that he plagiarized parts of an article by Jill Lepore in the New Yorker. It is, sadly, the latest case study of an insidious journalistic disease. Zakaria, who hosts the weekly CNN program that usually precedes ours, says in a statement, "Media reporters have pointed out that paragraphs in my Time column on gun control, which was also a topic of conversation on this blog for Time magazine, bear close similarities to paragraphs in Jill Lepore's essay in the April 23rd 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 CNN, and to my readers and viewers everywhere."

Now, Time accepted the apology, but has suspended Zakaria for one month pending further review. The magazine said he had violated its standards, which say columnists' work must not only be factual, but original, and that their words must be their own. CNN, owned by Time's parent company, has temporarily taken Zakaria off the air. The network says in a statement, "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."

[Then came credit for NewsBusters and NRANews.com, and a review of the actual quotes.]

....Now, I have seen a number of plagiarism cases, far more extensive than this one, but that misses the point. Borrowing someone else's words without credit is a cardinal journalistic sin, which is why Fareed Zakaria did one smart thing here, and that is quickly owning up to his mistake.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis