Time Goes Soft on Xerox Zakaria: Plagiarism Suspension Becomes One Week (Update: CNN Also Folds)

Time magazine just e-mailed Newsbusters with an announcement: Fareed Zakaria's column will return early, in the September 7 issue. His offending plagiarism-soiled column appeared in the August 20 edition, so the one-month suspension became a one-week slap on the wrist. (Update: CNN also announced today that their suspension of Zakaria would end on Sunday, August 26.)

"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."

Even Zakaria's apology didn't suggest the plagiarism was unintentional. "I made a terrible mistake," Zakaria said in his statement. "It is a serious lapse and one that is entirely my fault."

It's quite possible Time didn't think Zakaria should be punished for something one of his researchers gave him to plug in. Or that they needed his "thoughtful and important voice" for the convention season. In any event, it suggests Time is soft on plagiarism, and shouldn't try to lecture anyone else about journalistic ethics in the near future.

CNN's statement also lauded Zakaria as a great brain too precious to keep suspended:

CNN has completed its internal review of Fareed Zakaria’s work for CNN, including a look back at his Sunday programs, documentaries, and CNN.com blogs. The process was rigorous.  We found nothing that merited continuing the suspension.

Zakaria has apologized for a journalistic lapse. CNN and Zakaria will work together to strengthen further the procedures for his show and blog.

Fareed Zakaria’s quality journalism, insightful mind and thoughtful voice meaningfully contribute to the dialogue on global and political issues.  His public affairs program GPS will return on Sunday, August 26 at 10am ET on CNN/US and 8am ET on CNN/International.

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