The Interpreter

From The Village Voice:Fareed

Fareed Zakaria’s career reads like some crazy America fantasy: Neoconservative policy wonk becomes darling of the ultra-liberal Daily Show. Political columnist and editor of Newsweek International is dubbed an “intellectual heartthrob” by Jon Stewart. Upper-class Indian academic raised in mostly secular household becomes America’s favorite explainer of the Muslim world, regularly appearing on Charlie Rose, This Week With George Stephanopoulos, and now on his own weekly PBS news series, Foreign Exchange With Fareed Zakaria (airing Saturdays at 10 a.m. on WNET).

Zakaria stands out from the crowd of lily-white talking heads that populate American news shows thanks to his tan skin, clipped Bombay lilt, and his insistence that we pay attention to the rest of the globe. Sitting in his airy corner office at Newsweek, Zakaria is the definition of dapper, clad in a pale yellow checked shirt and crisp khakis. He ignores the constant ambient ping of incoming e-mails and phone calls as he talks about his PBS show. Zakaria may be the pundit world’s answer to the Backstreet Boys, but there’s nothing sexy about Foreign Exchange. It has the standard muted tones of a serious news program, complete with generic set and antiquated electronic theme music. “People ask how we’ll distinguish ourselves from the competition,” Zakaria says animatedly. “What competition? There’s literally not another show on American television that deals only with foreign affairs—you know, the other 95 percent of humanity.”

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