Born to Muslim parents in Mumbai, India on January 20, 1964, Fareed Zakaria holds a B.A. from Yale College and a Ph.D. from Harvard University. In 1992 he was hired as managing editor of Foreign Affairs magazine. In October 2000 he was named editor of Newsweek International and became a weekly columnist for Newsweek magazine. From 2002-07 he served as a news analyst on ABC‘s This Week with George Stephanopoulos. From 2005-08 he hosted the weekly PBS news show, Foreign Exchange with Fareed Zakaria. And in June 2008 he launched Fareed Zakaria GPS (Global Public Square) on CNN television, which continues to air twice weekly in the U.S. and four times weekly on CNN International. In addition, Zakaria has been a columnist (and editor-at-large) for Time magazine since 2010, and he writes a column every two weeks for the Washington Post.
In September 2002 Zakaria said that America’s disproportionately massive military power—“it hasn’t been like this [so imbalanced] since the Roman Empire”—was offensive to many people abroad. In May 2004 he derided the Bush administration for having unwisely exploited that power—e.g., by “wag[ing] pre-emptive war [in Iraq] unilaterally, spurn[ing] international cooperation, reject[ing] United Nations participation, [and] humiliat[ing] allies”—to create “a poisonous atmosphere of anti-Americanism around the globe.” In a February 2005 appearance on ABC’s This Week, Zakaria described Iran’s Grand Ayatollah, Ali al-Sistani, as a seemingly “very reasonable guy” who was, according to what one Iraqi politician had told Zakaria, “more rational” than President Bush.
Zakaria holds conservatives in very low esteem, claiming that in their zeal to “cut and starve government,” they “now resemble the old Marxists who refuse to look at actual experience” and, instead, devote themselves blindly to dogma—in this case, “recitations of some free-market theory taken out of some book based on no actually-existing national economy.” The “revolutionary” Tea Party movement, Zakaria adds, is an odious initiative of the Republican Party’s “extreme wing.”
In October 2008, Zakaria took to the airwaves to denigrate Republican vice presidential candidate (and Tea Party icon) Sarah Palin as “a rabble-rousing ultraconservative,” and to explain why he would be voting for the “steady and reasoned” Barack Obama in the upcoming presidential election. By Zakaria’s telling, Obama represented “the hope of the future—the hope of a country that can make big changes and live out one of its greatest promises, of equal opportunities for all Americans, of every caste, creed and color.”
Since Obama’s ascent to the White House, Zakaria has mostly endorsed the president’s policies and maneuverings. In 2011, for instance, the broadcaster defended Obama’s “appropriately practical approach” in dealing with the Middle East, including his decision to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan; his “restraint” in permitting the “Arab Spring” to take its course; his “carefully calculated” response to the conflict in Libya; and his cautious, “incremental” efforts to engage Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
In May 2011 Zakaria acknowledged that he himself had occasionally advised President Obama on foreign policy matters—“mostly [in] face-to-face meetings … organized by Tom Donilon, the national security advisor.”
Also in May 2011, shortly after a U.S. Navy SEAL team had killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, Zakaria displayed several Internet reworkings of the historic photograph of President Obama’s staff watching the bin Laden operation unfold in real time, and stated: “This one may be my favorite. The superhero squad. President Obama is Captain America, Vice President Biden as Flash. Madame Secretary [Hillary Clinton] as Wonder Woman, and many more.”
In late 2012—as controversy swirled regarding the Obama administration’s failure to dispatch military support for a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans who had been slaughtered by Islamic terrorists in Benghazi on the 11th anniversary of 9/11—Zakaria accused Republican “ideologues” of unjustifiably leveling “a highly politicized set of charges” against the president. Regarding the administration’s false claims that the attacks were not pre-planned acts of terrorism by al Qaeda-affiliated extremists—but rather, had erupted spontaneously from low-level protests over an obscure anti-Muslim YouTube video—Zakaria said that while the Obama administration had “got[ten] out some wrong information” because “they didn’t know what was happening,” there was “absolutely no evidence” that “some kind of purposeful … cover-up [or] deception” had taken place.
Zakaria’s policy positions are generally consistent with those of the Democratic Party:
Outspoken on the need to “integrate Muslims” more fully into American society, Zakaria maintains that the U.S. greatly “overreacted” to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In 2010 he condemned “politicians who have shamelessly and shamefully capitalized on the public’s wariness” of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf‘s quest to construct a mosque/Islamic Center near Ground Zero in Manhattan. Moreover, to protest the Anti-Defamation League’s opposition to that same project, Zakaria gave back a Hubert H. Humphrey First Amendment Freedoms Prize that he had received from that organization five years earlier.
In August 2012, Zakaria was suspended by both CNN and Time magazine for plagiarizing a portion of a recent New Yorker article about the National Rifle Association. Zakaria acknowledged that he had made a “terrible mistake.”
Zakaria was again accused of plagiarism in September 2014, when the website Our Bad Media reported that “two dozen episodes of Fareed Zakaria GPS contain content that has been lifted without proper attribution or sourcing—including one he earned a Peabody [Award] for.” For a complete list of these examples of plagiarism, click here.
In a July 2017 appearance on CNN New Day with Alisyn Camerota, Zakaria attributed Donald Trump’s presidential-election victory over Hillary Clinton to the idea that many Americans are unintelligent, uneducated, racist, homophobic, and sexist. Among his remarks were the following:
“[H]e knew that the election of a black president [Barack Obama] had stirred a kind of ugly racial animus among some people — probably a small subset — but he knew a way to get directly to them…. The other factor is culture. A real sense of cultural alienation that the older white, non-college educated Americans have the sense that their country is changing because of immigrants. Because maybe blacks are getting — rising up to a kind of central place in society. Because of, you know, gays being afforded equal rights. Because of, frankly, a lot of working women. You know, everybody is sort muscling in on the territory that if you think about it, the white working man had. And the final one is class — social class. We don’t talk about it a lot but the election of Donald Trump is really a kind of class rebellion against people like us. You know, educated professionals who live in cities who have, you know, cosmopolitan views about a lot of things. And I think there’s a whole part of America that is sick and tired of being told what to do by this, you know, over-educated, professional elite that Hillary Clinton, in many ways, perfectly represented, and that’s why they’re sticking with him.”
For additional information on Fareed Zakaria, click here.
1 Zakaria predicts that “one day we will look back and wonder how people could have been so willing to deny equal treatment under the law to a small minority.”
2 As a remedy, Zakaria called for an end to “the entire slew of Bush tax cuts,” a move that “would take us back to Clinton-era rates, when the American economy had its strongest growth years in three decades.” In March 2012 Zakaria revisited this theme, saying: “Clinton raised taxes. He got growth. Bush had the biggest tax cuts in a generation, and he got the weakest growth in 30 years.”