- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 3, 2002

A Los Angeles Times columnist has accused Charles Colson, world-famous Watergate felon-turned-born-again Christian, of not crediting ghostwriters for some of his columns in Christianity Today magazine.
Los Angeles Times columnist Tim Rutten says Mr. Colson did not write some of his popular columns in the evangelical magazine, including one in which he criticized lying in American culture.
In that column, Mr. Colson criticized historian Stephen Ambrose for plagiarizing, Mr. Rutter said in a March 22 column.
The actual author of the column, which carried Mr. Colson's byline and photo, was Anne Morse, a staff writer employed by Mr. Colson, the newspaper said.
Mr. Colson fired back in a March 26 radio broadcast (posted on www.breakpoint.org), calling the Los Angeles Times piece "unfortunate and inaccurate."
The former Watergate figure did concede he does not read many of the books and films he cites in his columns and that a team puts together his daily radio program, two monthly columns, various op-ed pieces, letters to supporters, books and speeches.
The Los Angeles Times' piece quoted Christianity Today editor David Neff as saying Mr. Colson, to the best of his knowledge, wrote his own columns. "But," he added, "I have been thinking that the time has come to raise the question with him again."
In a message posted March 27 on www.christianitytoday.com, Mr. Neff said the Los Angeles Times story was "wrong," combining hearsay with speculation. One might disagree with Mr. Colson's standard of crediting ghostwriters, he said, "but you can hardly complain that he has no standard or compare him with other Christian leaders who simply fail to credit staff writers and ghostwriters at all."
Hired writers expect to receive compensation, not credit, he wrote, and in fact, Mr. Neff concluded, Mr. Colson is "one of the trailblazers of disclosure."
Mr. Colson, who founded Prison Fellowship Ministries, has been criticized previously for relying on ghostwriters whose contributions are either not mentioned or given much smaller bylines next to his. The use of ghostwriters and speechwriters has been much debated in the Christian publishing world.
The debate made it onto Jim Romenesko's MediaNews, a well-known watchdog media Web site at www.poynter.org/medianews/. One contributor wrote: "Neff's defense of hiring little-known writers to pen words under the name of a celebrity author is especially disingenuous. Even if it's voluntary, the 'consenting adults' arrangement still deceives readers."


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