Ghostwriter as a political risk

Politicians who turn to ghostwriters are – so it seems – at high risk: what if, as in the case of Helmut Kohl comes to a lawsuit? What if the ghostwriter suddenly contradicts what he wrote to make the customer look better, as in the case of Donald Trump?

Although few politicians are ever likely to achieve such prominence as the two above, the question is well-founded: What does I expect when I engage with a ghostwriter? Can I be blackmailed for life? Do I have to expect the ghostwriter to chitchat internally or even sabotage my career at some critical point?

Hardly likely. Although absolute security can not be guaranteed – as in all areas of life – politicians can certainly minimize their risk. The following steps help:

  • The choice of a trusted ghostwriter who shares and shares the same beliefs.
  • Securing a contract that meets both sides – the customer agrees to a mention of the ghostwriter as a co-author, so he shows from the beginning that the book.
  • Cooperation between two people. This protects against later “revelations”.

Another part of the contract should be a clause prohibiting the ghostwriter from providing information about his exact job and revealing any internal knowledge he acquires in the course of his job. This can also be proven with a penalty in case of non-compliance.

Those who follow these rules, should be sufficiently secured. However, if the factors money and power come into play, this security could no longer be enough. The examples given here make this clear: The US presidential election campaign is being fought with all means, and the dispute over what may be considered the legacy of Helmuth Kohl has political and financial incentives, jealousies and insults that seem to outweigh the former narrow ones Trusting relationship with the ghostwriter.

Some scientific authors exaggerate it with the footnotes, for example according to the motto “a lot helps a lot”. However, what might have a greater impact on the rating of the content than the mere number of sources used is their quality.

Quote is quote. And in the mean, dry and scientific world, one footnote is hard to distinguish from another: a book is a book after all, right?

Anyone who evaluates scientific papers according to the number of footnotes can just as well pay for scientific texts per kilobyte delivered. For as inconspicuous a reference to literature is – and as little as the quality can be seen directly at the glance in the bibliography – so important is the context knowledge:

Who is the author? Is it a distinguished scientist who is considered a thematic expert or a business consultant of dubious quality who uses only scientific vocabulary to sell his services?

What is the intention of the book? Should knowledge be conveyed, is it product advertising or the dissemination of ideological attitudes? In this assessment, just looking at the publisher is important. Thus, it can be recognized whether science or business is in the foreground of the publishing program or whether it concerns left- or right-wing typefaces.

Although the quality of the sources used plays an important role, what is crucial is the writer’s achievement in dealing with the foreign thoughts and quotations: While a mere rendering, literally or reworded, certainly does not constitute a major scientific achievement, dealing with highly complex theories comes one Great importance: only a few authors are spontaneously able to understand the extremely difficult ideas of great sociologists or historians, in their own words to reproduce and use in the sense of the work. A footnote called Luhmann is usually far more promising than a link to a newspaper article.

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