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Past week was tough and clarifying, says Zakaria

Updated: August 20, 2012, 8:26 PM IST
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Past week was tough and clarifying, says Zakaria
Noted Indian-American writer and journalist Fareed Zakaria's suspension was revoked by Time and CNN last week.

New York: Noted Indian-American writer and journalist Fareed Zakaria, who was briefly suspended by Time magazine and CNN after he was accused of plagiarism, described the episode as "tough" and "clarifying" and said he now realises the focus of what he wants to do ahead.

Forty-eight-year-old Zakaria's suspension was revoked by Time and CNN last week, days after he had issued an apology for lifting a passage for an article he wrote on gun control for Time from an essay by Harvard University professor of American history Jill Lepore in the New Yorker magazine.

"This has been a tough week, but it has also been clarifying," Zakaria said in a New York Times article. "You find out what matters to you in life, who your friends are".

Zakaria said he was apologetic for his "a terrible mistake... This week has been very important because it has made me realise what is at the core of what I want to do."

The Harvard and Yale graduate said he wanted to "help people to think about this fast-moving world and do this through my work on TV and writing". He said the mistake occurred when he confused the notes he had taken about Lepore's article with those taken from 'Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America,' by Adam Winkler, a copy of which was on his desk at his CNN office.

Zakaria says he now plans to cut back work with groups like the Council on Foreign Relations, the Little Shakespeare Company and the Yale University governing board. He also plans to make fewer speeches. "Other things will have to go away. There's got to be some stripping down," he added.

Zakaria has his hands full with his work at Time and CNN. He works on his Time column ideas each weekend, reports them on Monday, writes on Tuesday and Wednesday and films his Sunday CNN television programme on Thursday. Zakaria said he has never had an assistant write a column in 25 years and that he began using a research assistant for his column only in the last year.

Friends and colleagues of the journalist expressed support for Zakaria, saying he will soon recover from the abrupt and brief stain to his career. Time Managing Editor Richard Stengel said Zakaria is "one of the premier global intellectuals. He will recover". California-based entrepreneur Lynda Resnick counts herself as one of his admirers.

"It's not his character to do these things," she said about the plagiarism. "I think it's a tempest in a teapot". Gideon Rose, a close college friend of Zakaria's and managing editor of Foreign Affairs magazine, said Zakaria has always been efficient even with his private time. "I wish I had one-tenth of the energy and productivity he has," Rose said. "I am much more normal than he is and therefore much less disciplined".

Nisid Hajari, who had worked with Zakaria at Newsweek from 2001 through 2010, said unlike some other columnists, Zakaria did his own research and writing. "I've edited other writers who seem to me to be overextended, and you can see it in their copy," Hajari said adiing "Fareed was never like that".

Barrett Sheridan, a book researcher for Zakaria from 2008 to 2010, described his former boss as a "phenomenally fast and lucid writer", one who was never known to have a ghostwriter.

First Published: August 20, 2012, 8:26 PM IST
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