Amid controversy, Zakaria ’86 resigns

Fareed Zakaria ’86 resigned from his position on the Yale Corporation on Monday, 10 days after he was exposed for plagiarism in Time Magazine.

In a letter to University President Richard Levin, Zakaria wrote that he is reexamining his professional life and has decided to “shed some of my other responsibilities” in order to focus on the “core” of his work.

“My service at Yale is the single largest commitment of time, energy, and attention outside of my writing and television work,” Zakaria said. “The work of the Yale Corporation needs and deserves such attention, but I simply do not have the capacity to do it and keep up with my main professional obligations.”

Zakaria, the editor-at-large of Time Magazine and host of CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, was one of 10 successor trustees on the Corporation, Yale’s highest governing body. He chaired the Corporation’s education policy committee, beginning his second of two possible six-year terms as a successor trustee in July.

Conservative website Newsbusters first noted in an Aug. 10 blog post that a paragraph in Zakaria’s Aug. 20 Time column on gun control closely resembled a portion of an April New Yorker article by Jill Lepore GRD ’95. In the days after the scandal broke, CNN and Time suspended Zakaria and several media outlets, including the New Haven Register, called for him to leave the Corporation.

Zakaria called the incident a “serious lapse and one that is entirely my fault” in an Aug. 10 statement.

Levin told the News on Aug. 10 that the Corporation’s committee on trusteeship, of which Zakaria is a member, would “discuss the process for reviewing the matter,” but the University said Monday that the investigation has been discontinued in light of Zakaria’s resignation. Levin said in a statement that he is “deeply grateful” for Zakaria’s previous work on the Corporation.

Levin declined to comment further on the situation Monday evening.


  • commentator

    He didn’t even have the decency to give the real reason for the resignation.

  • allegro39

    Well, decency is only one of the many words lacking in the lexicon of Dr. Z, With his disingenuous letter to Dr. L, perhaps he now will have time and opportunity to find and understand those many words. Perhaps he will also come to some comprehension that he now no longer sits in a pew of the Corporation, but rather in a pew near those of a former Yale football coach, and of a former Yale football player. Is something rotten in the state of Yale?

  • dmelakada

    Zakariah made a mistake. He remains, however, an unusually wise and deep thinker whose broad understanding of the world made him a very valuable addition to the Corporation. At at time when leading universities need to comprehend the diverse forces affecting the globe, his resignation is a real loss for Yale.

    • robert99

      Give me a break. He, more than most, should know plagiarism is dishonesty. Never did like the guy.

    • RexMottram08

      Never before has such an “unusually wise and deep thinker” held positions so close to the conventional wisdom. He is unimaginative, derivative, and now a confirmed fraud. Good riddance.

    • claypoint2

      I agree completely with dmelakada.

  • ldffly


  • An_Observer

    You can do a lot of things in academia that you can’t do in the rest of the world. But there are two things which are occasionally excused elsewhere that you really can’t do in academia: lie on your resume and plagiarize.

    I’m sure that President Levin really couldn’t care less who is calling fake punts on the Yale sideline and probably doesn’t mind a brief bout of plagiarism from a Corporation member. But if Tom Williams or Fareed Zakaria had been permitted to remain at Yale, it would have destroyed any shred of legitimacy the university would have had the next time an assistant professor up for tenure is denied because of either resume lies or plagiarism.

    I’m assuming that President Levin asked for Zakaria’s resignation, as he should have.

  • The Anti-Yale

    What gets into people’s heads?


  • terryhughes

    I have just received the memo below, which explores the issues in greater detail than Mr. Zakaria’s resignation letter:

    TO: My Readers

    FROM: Fareed Zakaria*

    Last week, several journalists accused me of plagiarizing entire passages in my most recent novel, ”The Red Badge of Gatsby.”

    My accusers claim that in this book, my 27th in the last three years, I lifted sections from, among other sources, ”A Tale of Two Cities,” ”War and Peace,” ”Pride and Prejudice,” ”Goldfinger,” ”Go, Dog. Go!” and the Lands’ End holiday catalog.

    Friends have urged me to follow the example of another celebrated author who recently responded to similar allegations with a public apology. I must remind them, however, that copying what other writers have already done is exactly what got me into this mess.

    Let us take a look, then, at the passage my accusers allege I appropriated from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s ”The Scarlet Letter”:

    ” ‘Hester Prynne,’ said he, leaning over the balcony and looking down steadfastly into her eyes, ‘thou hearest what this good man says, and seest the accountability under which I labor.’ ”

    Now, here is the so-called similar passage from my work:

    ” ‘Hester Prynne,’ said he, leaning over the balcony and looking down steadfastly into her eyes, ‘it was the best of times, it was the worst of times, and what is up in that tree? A dog party! A dog party! A dog party in the tree!’ ”

    Those determined to find evil intent will, of course, focus on certain surface similarities between my passage and Hawthorne’s. But readers who expect an author’s work to be totally free of literary influences are, I believe, hopelessly naïve about the writing process, imagining that an author creates a book by arduously filling up blank pages with words of his own.

    When I write a book, I never go anywhere near a blank page. Instead, I buy an already written book and start crossing out the words I have no intention of using. After several weeks of such toil, my work is complete, and it is off to Kinko’s to generate a finished manuscript — ready for publication, an HBO miniseries and Oprah Winfrey’s book club.

    I am sure that some of my fellow writers will attack me for revealing the tricks of our trade, but I have no regrets on that score. It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done, if I may coin a phrase.

    * As inspired by Andy Borowitz

  • The Anti-Yale

    The preceding satire falls flat. If Mr. Zakaria felt he could justify the alleged plagiarized passage he would have done so. He did not.


    • Goldsmith11


    • terryhughes

      Any suggestion that Zakaria has really come clean is gullible or disingenuous. As the [**Huffington Post points out:**][1]

      “Zakaria … said that his mistake came from mixing up different notes from different sources. That account does not quite explain how the plagiarized paragraph was so closely aligned with its original source, nor how it was unattributed to the writer, Jill Lepore.”

      Ah, yes, “That account does not quite explain how…” The nice language of this reservation is what is known as an attempt to pick up a turd from the clean end.

  • terryhughes

    Jerry Adler, a Newsweek science writer, [**says that in 2010 he wrote a letter to go out under Mr. Zakaria’s name**][1] for a Newsweek issue on the environment pegged to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. Knowing full well that the piece would go out under Mr. Zakaria’s name, Adler says, he wrote the five-paragraph piece, never discussing it with the putative author. Zakaria declined to speak to Off the Record, the site reporting the ghostwriting charge.


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