If schadenfreude -- enjoying the distress of others -- is a sin, then I am a sinner. I confess that Fareed Zakaria has always annoyed me with his sanctimony and thin veneer of intellectualism. Having spent the first two decades of my professional life among academic elitists, I like to think that I can spot a phony, and Zakaria checks all the boxes I have come to see as indicative of a man creating the illusion of intellectual substance.
Now comes news that Zakaria has been busted for plagiarism. Tim Graham of Newsbusters:
When CNN host and Time editor-at-large Fareed Zakaria wrote a new piece called "The Case for Gun Control," it ended with a bang: "So when people throw up their hands and say we can't do anything about guns, tell them they're being un-American--and unintelligent."
Here's something that suggests a lack of intelligence: plagiarism. Cam Edwards at NRANews.com suggested to me that Zakaria seemed to plagiarize a paragraph from an April article in The New Yorker magazine -- with a modicum word-usage changes and interjections (Texas!) in an attempt to paper it over. Here's a paragraph from his Time piece:
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."
Compare that in its organization to this paragraph from a Jill Lepore New Yorker article from April:
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."
Voila! Xerox Zakaria!
It's not the first time Zakaria's been accused of lifting things.
Zakaria has been suspended from his column at TIME magazine, and from CNN. Not fired in disgrace. Not yet, at least. I am far from alone in my delight. As usual, Iowahawk has the most pithy response (on twitter, so far, but who knows what is to come on his blog?):
Perhaps the most delicious aspect of the scandal is that not only has Zakaria been an Obama excuser, but the president has pushed Zakaria as a guru, most notably conspicuously displaying Zakaria's tome on foreign affairs as his reading matter: (hat tip: Instapundit)
Ed Driscoll has a good roundup of commentary, including Allahpundit's setting of a question first raised by John Podhoretz:
Exit question via John Podhoretz: Could Zakaria maybe have been farming his columns out to an intern or assistant? That would be ethically problematic in its own right, but it might help explain this incident. A young ghostwriter has much less to lose in taking a risk like this and might well be more naive than Zakaria would be about the probability of being caught. Neither J-Pod nor I are trying to make excuses for him, mind you, just spitballing on how to account for something this bizarre.
If FZ excuses this by blaming his research assistant/ghost writer, it will raise many more questions.