A number of interesting things have happened since yesterday’s post on Fareed Zakaria’s Washington Post columns. Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski pointed out that Slate had quietly added a correction to Zakaria’s 1998 column on martinis after we flagged some attribution issues last September. Later that evening, the Post’s editorial editor Fred Hiatt told Politico that he found five of our flagged columns “problematic in their absence of full attribution,” which he called “unfair to readers and the original sources.”
But what caught our eye last night was some very specific activity on Fareed Zakaria’s Wikipedia page. Over the last few months, someone with a New York City IP address has made 7 edits to Wikipedia, all of which have been to Fareed Zakaria’s page over the last few months (friendly reminder to readers – Zakaria lives in New York City).
The account’s first edit, in August 2014, was to remove language discussing Slate’s reporting on plagiarism in Zakaria’s The Post-American World, and to note that the allegations came from “anonymous bloggers” – the same incorrect smear (we’re pseudonymous, folks) that Zakaria used in his initial reply to us.
The account’s second edit, made the same day as the first, strengthened his bio by noting he was not just an author, but an author of THREE BOOKS.
The account’s third, fourth, fifth, and sixth edits were all made in September. Here, the editor removed a note about Zakaria having “apologized for a journalistic lapse” regarding his plagiarism, noted his books’ status as “international bestsellers,” and updated Zakaria’s bio to reflect his new status as an editor at the Atlantic. Finally – and most tellingly – the editor did what only a good son would: fix the name of Zakaria’s mother, from “Fatima” to “Fatma.”
Last Friday – the same day Newsweek issued 7 corrections on Zakaria’s columns – the editor was back again. But instead of noting the issuing of the specific corrections, the account simply removed an entire paragraph about Newsweek’s blanket note calling for help correcting Zakaria’s articles. The editor’s reasoning? “Newsweek has removed the note.”
Since his statement to Politico, Zakaria has refused to comment publicly on our work. But that doesn’t mean he’s been ignoring it. Capital New York reported last week on grumbling from journalists who believed Zakaria had called the Huffington Post to complain about coverage of his plagiarism. So here’s a question for anyone reaching out to Zakaria for further comment: has he also been editing out plagiarism allegations, or is there someone else in New York City with a particularly keen (and friendly) familiarity with not just his career but the correct spelling of his family members’ names?