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Monday, March 19, 2012

The Fareed Zakaria Brand Grows at Time Warner

As something of a Zakaria observer, the news that he will be doing quarterly specials for CNN is fascinating. That is in addition of the hugely influential Fareed Zakaria GPS show, which has become the go-to place for heads of state on slow Sunday mornings. Among some of the heavyweights that have been on GPS are: Bill Gates, Colin Powell, Hamid Gul, founder of Pakistan's ISI, George Soros, Singapore's legendary former PM Lee Hsien Loong, Jordan's Queen Rania, Al Gore, Henry Kissinger, The Quartet's Middle East pointman Tony Blair, Robert Rubin, Niall Ferguson and even Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. And that is a deeply, deeply abridged list.

Zakaria, who left Newsweek for Time in August 2010, was rumored to be in the running for editing that magazine before Tina Brown. At the time Zakaria very publicly took his name out of the running, telling the Times Decoder: "“I very much want to be in the business of creating content, of doing stories all over the world, rather than figuring out what the business model is for Newsweek on the iPad, although that’s very important work as well.”

Zakaria, who has been having some marriage issues of late, is definitely in the Time Warner forld, writing for Time and doing specials and a weekly show for CNN. But will the desire to serve as Secretary of State -- the logical career end for someone with a pedigree such as he does (Yale, Harvard PhD in political science) -- ever motivate him to leave the Time Warner track to try to become one of the statesmen he now covers? "'My friends all say I’m going to be Secretary of State,' Fareed Zakaria told New York magazine in the Grill Room at The Four Seasons. 'But I don’t see how that would be much different from the job I have now.'" Well, it is a little bit different, Fareed.

Walter Issacson, an internationalist friend of Zakaria's, was also once-upon-a-time on the Time Warner fast track. The former Chairman and CEO of CNN and the former Managing Editor of TIME, Issacson has left journalism to head the Aspen Institute, somewhat more on course to a political appointment -- SecState? -- somewhere in some possible future Democrat administration.

So -- Is Time Warner an end or a means to an end? Inquiring minds want to know.

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