Revenge of the quote

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Wed Aug 15 13:53:07 UTC 2012

Naming the speaker is not the same as citing the source.  In contrast
to Victor, I believe Zakaria was incorrect ethically.

If Zakaria found the statement by Grove in Prestowitz's book, then he
should have acknowledged that.  "Grove said [X], as quoted in
Prestowitz."  Or "... said [X] in an interview with Prestowitz".  And
also included a footnote citing Prestowitz, page Y.

Zakaria did the wrong thing by not citing his source.  He did a
useful thing by naming the speaker.  (I find little more irritating
in reading scholarly books than finding a quotation cited only to
someone who published it, leaving the speaker and often the date
unknown and forcing the reader to go to another book to get that information.)

But Farhi (the writer of does some wrong things
also.  If one reads further in his article, it appears that Zakaria's
sin was not citing his source for Grove's words (that is, not
acknowledging Prestowitz), rather than using Grove's words.  But
Farhi does not make that absolutely clear, since he uses the words
"source" and "attribution" without explicitly distinguishing "naming"
vs. "citing" and without saying explicitly whether Grove's words were
or were not placed within quotes.  (In fact, there is an implication
in Farhi's article that Grove's words *were* in quotes: "Zakaria, in
an interview Monday, defended the practice of not attributing quotes
in a popular book").  If Zakaria did not put Grove's words in quotes,
then he plagiarized.  If he put the words in quotes but omitted
Grove's name, then he was sloppy.  But if Zakaria put Grove's words
in quotes and named Grove (but not Prestowitz), then in Parhi's lead
sentence -- "Columnist and TV host Fareed Zakaria, who acknowledged
parts of a magazine article last week, appears to have also published
without attribution a passage from a 2005 book" -- Farhi is
associating a lack of source citation with plagiarizing.

Another sentence in Farhi's article reads:

>On Friday, Zakaria apologized to Time magazine, its readers and
>historian Jill Lepore for an Aug. 20 Time column on gun control that
>he acknowledged contained material taken without attribution from an
>article Lepore wrote in April for the New Yorker magazine.

This reads to me more like Zakaria used Lepore's "material" without
either putting it in quotes or attributing it to Lepore.  That
certainly is unethical and plagiarism.

And I am not sympathetic with Zakaria's assertion in the following paragraph:

>Zakaria, in an interview Monday, defended the practice of not
>attributing quotes in a popular book. "As I write explicitly [in the
>book], this is not an academic work where everything has to be
>acknowledged and footnoted," his said. The book contains "hundreds"
>of comments and quotes that aren't attributed because doing so, in
>context, would "interrupt the flow for the reader," he said.

Something put in quotes should always be cited to its
source.  Footnote markers are at most an initial and temporary
interruption for readers not accustomed to them.  And using endnotes
disturbs the flow even less.

I see no legal issue -- either with what Zakaria did or with quoting
Grove without naming him but citing Prestowitz.  Publishing a few of
Grove's words attributed to Grove seems fair use.  Not acknowledging
one's source is not cricket, but not illegal.  Quoting someone's
words without naming the speaker but citing where one obtained the
quote is not illegal either.  AFAIK.


At 8/15/2012 03:29 AM, Victor Steinbok wrote:
>>Zakaria's 2008 book, "The Post-American World," contains a quote from
>>former Intel Corp. chief executive Andy Grove about the nation's
>>economic power. "America is in danger of following Europe down the
>>tubes, and the worst part is that nobody knows it," Grove says in
>>Zakaria's book. "They're all in denial, patting themselves on the back
>>as the Titanic heads straight for the iceberg full speed ahead."
>>The first edition of Zakaria's book, which became a bestseller, makes
>>no mention of the comment's source, nor does a paperback version of
>>"Post-American World" published in 2009.
>>In fact, Grove's comment was published three years earlier in "Three
>>Billion New Capitalists: The Great Shift of Power to the East," by
>>former Commerce Department official Clyde V. Prestowitz.
>>In an interview Monday, Prestowitz said Grove made the comment in an
>>interview with him that was conducted while Prestowitz was researching
>>his book. The quote appears in the book's first chapter.
>FWIW, Zakaria seems to be correct both legally and ethically.
>Irrespectively where the original quote came from, Zakaria did the right
>thing and cited its author, not the reteller. Prestowitz has no
>copyright claim, unless he actually made up the quote himself, but then
>*he* is in the ethical hot water, not Zakaria.
>For some people here, however, this practice makes quote-sleuthing more
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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