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Post media reporter Paul Farhi got a bruiser of a correction today on his Monday story alleging that Time Editor-at-Large/CNN host/Post columnist Fareed Zakaria‘s journalistic crimes extended beyond plagiarizing from the New Yorker. In his story, Farhi alleged that Zakaria had also lifted an interview from Clyde V. Prestowitz‘s book Three Billion New Capitalists and planted it, uncited, in his 2008 book The Post-American World.
As David Frum soon pointed out, though, Zakaria’s Post-American World does cite Prestowitz—-something that would have been obvious to Farhi if he had just flipped to the back of the book. With the whole reason for the article revealed to be nonexistent, the Post tacked on a devastating correction today saying the paper should never have run Farhi’s story (emphasis added):
This article incorrectly states that in his 2008 book, “The Post-American World,” Fareed Zakaria failed to cite the source of a quotation taken from another book. In fact, Zakaria did credit the other work, by Clyde V. Prestowitz. Endnotes crediting Prestowitz were contained in hardcover and paperback editions of Zakaria’s book. The Post should have examined copies of the books and should not have published the article. We regret the error and apologize to Fareed Zakaria.
Farhi declined to comment. Given that the entire foundation for the article is based on parsing Prestowitz and Zakaria’s books, “the Post should have examined copies of the books” comes off as a nice way to say, “What a catastrophe!”
One mystery remains, though. In Farhi’s story, Zakaria says that he didn’t have to footnote Prestowitz’s book, saying that attribution would have interrupted the book’s flow. Given that Zakaria actually did cite Prestowitz, why not just tell Farhi the idea for his story was wrong?