Anil Thakraney: The credibility letdown

21 Aug,2012

By Anil Thakraney


Must say I am quite surprised to hear that the suspension imposed on Mr Cut Paste by his bosses at Time mag and CNN has been lifted quite swiftly. I was of the opinion that Fareed Zakaria would have to pay a heavy price. Clearly, I was wrong.


This is the exact statement issued by Time, as per media reports: “We have completed a thorough review of each of Fareed Zakaria’s columns for Time and we are entirely satisfied that the language in question in his recent column was an unintentional error and an isolated incident for which he has apologized. We look forward to having Fareed’s thoughtful and important voice back in the magazine with his next column in the issue that comes out on September 7.”


Now, while one wants to applaud Time and CNN for being large-hearted, I am a bit worried about the ramifications of the quick forgiveness. Younger columnists and journalists will get the wrong idea. Because, the message is this: ‘Okay, you made one mistake, but otherwise you have been good at your job. So we’ll let you get away with this dishonest act.’ As a writer, my reading is that it’s okay to do the odd chori. In that sense, I believe Zakaria’s example sets a bad precedent. He directly (or indirectly) lifted passages from another journalist, that is a fact, and he has admitted to it. And Zakaria ought to have been made to face the music for this misdemeanour. Especially because he’s a veteran in the profession.


There’s another thing: Zakaria’s credibility has taken a body blow following this incident. Why would I trust his writing ever again? How can I be sure he hasn’t played another mischief? Given that, there had to be a cooling-off period ordered on Zakaria for at least one year, if not more. So his readers are assured that, one, the man has been adequately punished. And two, he has had sufficient time to introspect on his misdeed.


All I can say is, Fareed Zakaria is one helluva lucky guy.




PS: I have always wondered why the placards that protesters carry during various andolans are so dull. Well, here’s a link that tells you it need not be the case, that placards can be fun. Hope to see some wit and humour during desi protests. Perhaps ad agencies can pitch in with some thoughts. If we must watch the likes of Anna and Ramdev fasting, may as well have some entertainment going on the sidelines. 🙂




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