Last week the Los Angeles Times published a passing strange commentary on one of Charles Colson's recent Christianity Today columns. Colson's column was titled "Post-Truth Society," and it explored the reasons that lying has become so prevalent in our cultural context. The column referred to a number of high-profile liars—from historian Joseph Ellis, who invented a Vietnam war record for himself, to George O'Leary whose brief, five-day career as Notre Dame's football coach ended when fabrications on his résumé were brought to light.
The Los Angeles Times's Tim Rutten thought "Post-Truth Society" was problematic, since (according to Nancy Pearcey, former Colson staffwriter) Colson did not write the column that bore his byline and his picture.
Rutten called me as he was working on his piece. I told him several things:
First, that we knew that Charles Colson used the help of a writing team to produce his prodigious output. In fact, I had written about this in one of my editor's notes in 1996 when he decided to share his byline with Nancy Pearcey.
Second, that when Pearcey left his employ a few years ago, he had begun to write his columns singlehandedly. (I told Rutten I hadn't talked to Chuck recently about how he was producing his columns now.)
Third, that Chuck is not oblivious to the ethical questions involved in writing with the help of a staff; that he has in the past made decisions as to when and how to credit staff based on a variety of factors. You might disagree with Colson as to when and how he applies the standard he has developed, I told Rutten, but you can hardly complain that he has no standard or compare him with other Christian leaders who simply fail to credit staffwriters and ghostwriters at all.
Fourth, that Rutten ...1