78 votes

The Ron Paul Newsletters: A Ghost Writer's Perspective and Open Letter to James Kirchick

Mr. Kirchick, this is in response to your politically timed "expose" on the thirty-year-old Ron Paul newsletters, "The Company Ron Paul Keeps." (Though, technically, to qualify as an "expose," your piece would have to include something new, which it does not.)

Not knowing your background as a writer, I'm not sure if you're familiar with ghost writing, how prevalent it is, or how to works. So following is my professional take on the Ron Paul Newsletters issue, as a professional ghost writer and marketing expert with over 20 years of experience.

How does ghost writing work?

I've been a direct marketing copywriter for nearly twenty-five years now, and 99% of that writing work was never attributed to me. I've ghost-written for CEOs of Fortune 1000 companies, as well as executive vice presidents, chief

operating officers, chief marketing officers, chief financial officers, and various other c-suite executives; presidents, publishers, partners, principals, owners...well, you get the picture.

Very, very few top-level executives ever do their own writing. Armies of people like me are hired to create content behind the scenes. And it's extremely rare for a ghostwriter like myself to have any direct contact with the person for whom I'm ghost-writing. Generally, I'm hired and managed--and the work is reviewed and approved--by someone several steps below that executive on the food chain. My sense is that very few of the people I write for ultimately read what goes out over their names.

The Ron Paul brand

Brand management is a relatively new concept in marketing, and I doubt that managing the "Ron Paul" brand was much of a concern among anyone working on the newsletters, nor for Dr. Paul, who had returned to private practice after what was to be his first stint in Congress. When these newsletters were published, Dr. Paul may not have had any intention of running for office again, and thus may not have given the content of the newsletters much, if any, thought, as long as they were a good source of passive income.

But by the time Ron Paul returned to Congress, "Ron Paul" had become a brand, separate and distinct from Dr. Ron Paul, the physician who was running a busy private medical practice. "Ron Paul" had become a brand in the same way that "Martha Stewart" has become a brand. The Ron Paul newsletters had become something like Forbes Magazine—a publication that made money for its namesake and founder without his hands-on involvement. (Frankly, this is the optimal outcome in the publishing world—the outcome I have sometimes been hired to create for clients. This is the definition of success!)

How publications make money

The purpose of any for-profit publication is to make money by giving certain audiences the kind of content they prefer…because by doing this, the publication becomes a platform for advertisers to reach a desired demographic. The purpose of its content is to attract or serve a lucrative readership—period.

And back in the 1980s through the 1990s, there was increasing dismay over the lawless actions of federal law enforcement agencies against innocent Americans—demonstrated at Ruby Ridge in 1992 and the Waco siege in 1993. There was a market for commentary on these events and issues like gun rights, the Constitution, preparedness, home schooling, and self-sufficiency, and the Ron Paul newsletter capitalized on that market. That's what any successful publishing company does—identify a market and then create a product that market wants to buy.

I'm sure you've heard the phrase, "the views expressed on this program are not necessarily the views of staff, advertisers and/or management of this media outlet."

It's a fallacy to assume that all of the employees of the Martha Stewart brand were aware of—much less, guilty of—lying to investigators and deserved to be jailed like the publication's namesake, Martha Stewart. It's just as wrong to assume that the actions or opinions of every employee were endorsed by Martha. That's just not how these things work. And the same can be said for any publisher.

Thirty years ago, as today, the revenue stream from a newsletter often doesn't come from the newsletter itself (for example, through print ad sales or subscriptions.) The value is often in the mailing list, which can be rented to many other organizations, individuals, companies, causes, etc. Oftentimes, the content of the publication can become something of an afterthought, as long as the list still performs well, and subscription sales remain steady.

Pre-Internet niche communications

In the pre-Internet days of the 1980s and up through the mid-1990s, people in special interest groups (stamp collectors, survivalists, classic car buffs, investors, libertarians), communicated via newsletters, which were often promptly thrown away after being read.

I've never seen a copy of a Ron Paul newsletter, and it appears surviving copies are rare—judging by the amount of effort it took for you to assemble a collection of them. That would seem to indicate that they weren't taken very seriously by the recipients. It may also indicate that as commentary on current events, the content quickly became dated.

The character of the content

I read an article about the Los Angeles riots online which purports to be from a Ron Paul newsletter; however, I have no way of confirming it. (The newsletters would have been copyrighted material, so whoever posted it has violated the copyright in doing so. I imagine that the owner of the copyright would have worked to have any authentic materials removed from the Internet.)

But for the sake of argument, let's pretend that the article I read (which I no longer have a link to) was from an issue of a Ron Paul newsletter. It was allegedly written soon after the LA race riots—and is an understandably emotional reaction to the deaths of 53 innocent people and the injury of thousands, not to mention the $1 billion in property damage from over a thousand arson fires and countless lootings. For six days, crowds of criminals shut down south central Los Angeles, committing arson, assault, battery, vandalism and murder, often in front of law enforcement agents who were specifically told not to intervene. The perpetrators were frequently black; the targets were mainly non-blacks (Asians, Hispanics and whites.)

This article—several thousand words long—chronicles some of the worst incidents and touches on a laundry list of conservative and libertarian issues, including (if I remember correctly) gun control, racism, political correctness, law enforcement, the dangers of inter-generational welfare dependency, personal responsibility, and morality. One of the most frequently reproduced "smoking gun" quotes that purports to "prove" bias on the part of Ron Paul is from this article.

I read the article, expecting the worst, and was…puzzled. There's nothing racist about it (if you define "racism" as the belief that all members of one race are inherently inferior to all members of another race--typically, the one the racist belongs to.)

At worst, some passages can be described as very "politically incorrect" (which is not the same as "racist," nor is it the same as "untrue.") None of the passages struck me as being very far outside standard conservative thought—then, as now—that welfare is destructive to the recipients and an armed society is a polite (and looting-free) society.

Changing definitions of racism

The Ron Paul newsletters were limited-circulation niche publications that never had a general readership. The LA Riots article has the kind of non-PC tone one would take among like-minded friends around the dinner table, out of earshot of the PC police. Nowadays, these politically incorrect conversations take place under cover of anonymity on the Internet. In the 1980s and 1990s, they took place in ephemera like the Ron Paul newsletters.

And the "smoking gun" sentences simply aren't racist, though they certainly sound bad, removed from the context of historical events, and removed from the context of the article itself.

In fact, these sentiments were ultimately proven to have a lot of validity a decade later, when thousands of residents of New Orleans—many of them multi-generational welfare recipients—died in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as a result of decades of learned helplessness and government dependency. They didn't die because they were black; they died because they had lost all sense of personal responsibility and self-preservation, believing the government to be completely responsible for their welfare. This is the kind of tragedy Dr. Paul has warned about for 35 years.

To judge this article as "racist," you have to use today's definition of racism—which, according to collectivists on the Left, can only be perpetrated by whites—and can consist solely of disagreeing with the opinion of a black person, or saying something negative about a black person, no matter how factual the statement is. (So, Mr. Kirchick, by your standards, the previous paragraph was most certainly "racist.")

How can you tell Ron Paul didn't write it?

As a writer and editor, it's simple for me to notice stylistic differences in the way other writers express themselves. In fact, as a ghost writer, I'm hired to create content in someone else's "voice," so I have to be aware of these things—it's my job.

The ghost writer of the LA Riots article may have done an excellent job of appealing to the target market's preferences, but he certainly didn't do a good job of mimicking Ron Paul's writing style, nor his views (which, in fact, may often have been counter to the readership's views.)

However, if this was the kind of content the readership wanted, it would have served the editor's purpose of maintaining and/or increasing circulation.

I haven't read any other material purported to be from a Ron Paul newsletter from the period between his Congressional terms. I have, however, read several of Dr. Paul's books, and watched hours of his testimony before Congress (having been elected and re-elected to twelve terms, there is no shortage of public statements from Dr. Paul.)

The one article I read that is alleged to have come from a Ron Paul newsletter simply was not written by Ron Paul. Both the style and the content are markedly different from anything else I've read or heard from Ron Paul.

In this wealth of material written by Dr. Paul, or spoken by Dr. Paul, I have never—not even once—seen or read anything that contradicts his belief in the value of the individual. In fact, his entire career has demonstrated his commitment to fight groupthink, bias and prejudice based on race, religion or any other form of group identity.

So why doesn't the ghost writer come forward?

When I'm hired to ghost-write for a client, both parties sign an extensive non-disclosure contract that governs my work. Not only am I barred from claiming authorship of the work I create for hire, I'm typically barred from even acknowledging the business relationship between my client and myself. These agreements sometimes contain clauses that specify "liquidated damages" I would have to pay for breaking the agreement. So "outing" myself as a ghost writer could be financial suicide. What's more, it would be extremely hard for me land future ghost-writing jobs, having betrayed a confidence.

Why doesn't Dr. Paul "out" the ghost writer?

The newsletters were published by a corporation, not Dr. Paul personally, so any contracts would have been drawn up in the corporation's name. If there was a contract between the company that owned the newsletter and its ghostwriter(s)—which would have been standard—only a court order could induce Dr. Paul, as an officer of the corporation, to break that non-disclosure contract if the other party didn't agree to it. And why would the ghost writer agree, knowing he or she is certain to be labeled a racist and anti-Semite by the mud-slingers in the agenda-driven media? And there's no legal reason for either party to go to court to seek such an order.

Given Dr. Paul's personal integrity and belief in the sanctity of contracts, I can't imagine his ever breaking a non-disclosure agreement, even to refute allegations like yours, Mr. Kirchick. Not only would it be a violation of his principles, it could open him up to legal action for breach of contract.

As I've said before, I take Dr. Paul's word for it that he had little or no hands-on involvement in the operations or content of the newsletter after returning to his medical practice. He appears to have handed it off to a group of people to run on his behalf (people whose only goal seems to have been making as much money as possible, not preserving the value of the Ron Paul "brand" for political purposes). I believe him when he says he doesn't know who wrote all the content in that publication.

Who's the real danger?

In summary, Mr. Kirchick, I have worked as a ghost writer for over twenty years, and having worked on dozens of projects that are similar to the Ron Paul newsletter. I find it not just plausible, but likely, that Dr. Paul had no knowledge of the content of the articles published in the newsletters that had his name in the title.

The "damning quotes" I have read that were purported to be from an article in a Ron Paul newsletter were not racist. At worst, they were politically incorrect—by today's standards, removed from historical context and removed from the context of the lengthy articles in which they appeared.

Nothing in any of Dr. Paul's public statements—or the books he has written himself—nor his behavior, nor his voting record—indicates any bias or bigotry on his part. The opposite is true, in fact.

Ron Paul's personal integrity is widely acknowledged, even by his opponents, as is his dedication to individualism and the principles espoused by one of his heroes, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

And here's the real issue, Mr. Kirchick. The gist of your argument is that Ron Paul is too dangerous a bigot to be elected to public office.

Had Dr. Paul not already been elected to high office numerous times—and had he not already demonstrated a total lack of bigotry in his words or deeds during two decades of service as a United States Representative—your argument may have held some water.

But unfortunately for you, Mr. Kirchick, the entire weight of Dr. Paul's public record goes against your conclusion.

What's more, even if he were the bigot you claim him to be (which he, demonstrably, is not), what kind of racist policy could he possibly implement, as president of the United States? Discrimination on the basis of race or religion is already a violation of federal law.

And should President Paul attempt to implement policies that reflect the imaginary racism with which you charge him, do you not think there would be a media firestorm from the likes of people like you?

Your article, far from being an attempt to protect America from the make-believe dangers of a Ron Paul presidency, is instead a rather transparent attempt to inject yourself into the GOP nominating process.

Destroying a good man's reputation to advance your own political agenda is despicable. But you know what's even worse than that? In rehashing this non-controversy for your own purposes, you may have helped create racial animosity that didn't exist before.

And that is simply inexcusable.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Politically incorrect

Politically incorrect, not racist.
A few phrases excerpted from hundreds of newsletters.
Written by ghostwriters.
Dr. Paul was the publisher, not the editor, and clearly not the writer.
The newsletters were a secondary source of income while Dr. Paul was busy delivering 4,000 babies more than 20 year ago.

Bless you, Kathleen, this is really helpful, especially for newcomers.



Insightful Tweet from our ole

Insightful Tweet from our ole friend:

@jkirchickJamie Kirchick

@ggreenwald @tanehisi @conor64 c'mon glenn, where's the venom you reserve for your ideological enemies? oh wait, paul is "anti-imperialist"


I read it. Very worthwhile.

Mandatory read for all dp'ers. not a hyperbole.

in light of recent events, to continue to qualify as a ron paul grassroot/supporter, this is required reading, a part of the mandatory curriculum.

Kathleen Gee's picture

Thank you! I appreciate that more than you know.

I have taken enormous heat in my defense of Dr. Paul, and I'm sure I've lost business because of it. I've certainly spent WAAAAY too much time on The DP and writing posts like this, instead of working.

If I didn't think the future of the country was at stake, I wouldn't have signed up for this. But writing is what I do, and it's what I have to offer.

I'm glad it has helped.

"Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid." - Ronald Reagan

Public Relations Consulting

thank you! you are a great writer.. this was a very smooth read

just curious if there is a typo near your intro tho "how prevalent it is, or how to works" is it 'how it works' rather?

anyway thanks for posting this and another bump! those of you reading pls help spread as well.

That was excellent!

Thanks for educating those of us who don't know how ghostwriting works.

Gotta get in on this.

Someone may have already covered this point. If so, I'm sorry...I can't read any more without bringing this up.

Everyone knows what opinions are like. With that in mind, consider this comparison:

President Obama sends drones into Pakistan to kill a "terrorist" and inadvertantly kills 15 innocent civilians in the process. Those making a big deal out of these newsletters would say that it's no problem - collateral damage from "friendly fire".

I, a Ron Paul supporter, would say, "Friendly fire? The Pakistanis hate us. To them, it's not friendly at all."

Compare the above scenario to the the following one:

The MSM is trying to kill Ron Paul's campaign, and racism is a big no-no in American society. So they rehash these newsletters and shove down the American throat that he is either racist or can't control his staff, either of which makes it impossible for the American people to ever elect him President. I'm telling you I just heard this from a guy named Mark Simone on Hannity's radio show less than 2 hours ago.

For anyone who abhors racism, and likes to think of him/herself as a responsible citizen, this deserves some research. So this potential VOTER googles the newsletters, finds the link to this page, and reads it from top to bottom. Real research requires getting both sides of the story, right?

Are they going to find us talking about "friendly fire"? That the bits and pieces that we all saw and read are no problem - they weren't really racist? From the very subjectively opinionated perspective of those VOTERS, what are they learning, right here, right now?

Imagine that to these people, the Trail of Tears was a big deal. So were the detention camps for Japanese-Americans during WWII. And so was slavery. I could go on and on about the atrocities that the anglos have committed against people of color throughout the history of this country.

Kathleen, thank you for this article. It succinctly explains how these newsletters could have come about and why Dr. Paul is responding to them the way he is. It is a gem, and I found it through google, so it's already meeting your objective of bringing curious minds here, to Dr. Paul's back yard. I found several other links to other things that did not do Dr. Paul or us any favors.

I agree with all of those that are saying we should follow Dr. Paul's lead on this one. These newsletters are the only "skeleton" the MSM has been able to find thus far.

I have no intention of belittling anyone's opinion that racism is bad. I am one of those people who abhors it. I am ashamed of the things we have done in this country, and outside of it, to people of races other than white, because we thought we were superior to them. These newsletters are a problem, whether we think they are or not. They are a problem for me, and others like me who have not yet finished their research and chosen to go with the factual history of Dr. Paul's voting record and the message he spreads in his books, and support him in spite of the newsletters.

We on this site are Dr. Paul's last line of defense on this issue, and I guarantee that to the undecided VOTER, this is an issue. We will shrug it off and pretend that it is not at our own peril.

I have already made up my mind to not only vote for Dr. Paul, but to donate to and participate in his campaign. He is our best, and only, hope to stop this insanity. I do not believe for a minute that Dr. Paul is racist, in any way, shape, or form. I can't say that about any of the other Republican candidates. To me, the newsletters were a very bad business decision on the part of Dr. Paul. I can forgive him for that - I have certainly made some very bad business decisions of my own, and so have several of the other Republican candidates. I will not toss Dr. Paul to the side and then...what? Vote for who? The rest of the candidates, and the current President have already promised to keep us in a neverending war and occupy our country with our own military. There is no one else to vote for. I'll take my chances with Ron Paul.

Others are looking for answers. I hope they can get some of those answers here.


Kathleen Gee's picture

The real tragedy

The real tragedy of this whole non-controversy is that it's YET ANOTHER thing that stands in the way of people of all races having frank discussions with each other in a safe atmosphere.

That's one of the things I found incredibly moving when I was involved with other volunteers working on Ron Paul's 2008 campaign. The people in the Meet-Up were an incredibly diverse lot. All different ages, religions, occupations, backgrounds, income levels, and yes, races.

And we all got along. It's easy to work with (or vote for) someone you disagree with when you're confident that your candidate won't use his presidential powers against you...and will dismantle those government power structures that are used to pick winners and losers.

"Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid." - Ronald Reagan

Public Relations Consulting

Kathleen Gee's picture

Hannity's Call Screener Hung Up On Me

First time in my life I've ever called Hannity's show.

On the fourth dial, I got through, and told the call screener that I was a professional ghostwriter, and I was calling because of everything I had been hearing about Ron Paul saying that ghostwriters were responsible for the content. I said I could explain how ghostwriting worked if they were interested.

Apparently, they weren't.

Oh well, I tried.

"Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid." - Ronald Reagan

Public Relations Consulting

Try again

Try when Hannity is on the air. This guest host said he would not be taking many Ron Paul calls today. Don't get frustrates it's worth your time and effort.

This is a wonderful post by

This is a wonderful post by the way.. Hea as this keeps coming up in the news maybe we can contact Freedom Watch and get her on with the judge to explain ghostwriting?

Kathleen Gee's picture

I'd love to go on Freedom Watch

Or anywhere else for that matter.

I just listened to Sean Hannity's fill-in, Roger Hedgecock, do a hit piece on Ron, again saying he couldn't imagine how Ron didn't know what was in the newsletters.

It's because Hedgecock is either a tool, or ignorant, or both.

I can't stop him from being a tool, but I'd love the chance to educate him. I've been trying to get through, but keep getting a busy signal.

"Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid." - Ronald Reagan

Public Relations Consulting

Thank you so much, Kathleen

Mr. Kirchick did the same thing in 2007 didn't he? Launched a giant smear campaign immediately before the Iowa caucuses?

I refuse to click on his link as a matter of principle, I boycott most negative Ron Paul articles.

Good Explanation, BUT...

You lose all credibility when you claim these newsletters don't contain racist, bigoted, homophobic thoughts. They absolutely do.

Ron Paul has said they do as well. Do not try to justify what's in these newsletters, simply stick with your explanation of why he didn't write them. Ron Paul did not write these and they are inconsistent with the message he's been preaching for 30 years.

I know you put a lot of work in this explanation, but it's very dangerous for the campaign if your thoughts on justifying the racist language in these newsletters gets circulated. Please consider editing your explanation.

Not accurate, "baxter".

Kathleen never claims that these newsletters "don't contain racist, bigoted, homophobic thoughts."

She is clearly on record stating that she has never seen nor read any of these newsletters.

I don't see where she is "justifying racist language" and I have read her open letter three times.

Your over-reach on these details is confounding to me. In my opinion she should edit nothing.

We don't need to argue semantics,

but my point is that Kathleen's piece would carry more power and credibility if she just comes right and says, yes there are a lot of inappropriate things in these newsletters.

She says she hasn't read the newsletters and doesn't know what's in them...again, she can gain more credibility if she actually does read the newsletters and learn what's in them.

Don't defend the "smoking guns" and "damning quotes" as not being racist...fully understand what's in the newsletters, condemn the language as inappropriate and small-minded, and move on with your explanation.

I want Ron Paul to win as much as the next person, and we need to follow Paul's lead on handling this issue. He has said he disagrees with racist language and small-mindedness expressed in the newsletters, that he did not write them, and that they are inconsistent with anything he's ever said or expressed in his 30 years in the public sphere.

Kathleen, as a ghostwriter yourself, you have a lot of valuable insight. You have a great explanation here, but I think you're just a little too soft on not condemning what's in the newsletters, and opponents of Ron Paul would marginalize your message as a result.

Where are the 'smoking guns'

and the 'damning quotes'?

Those are the terms Kathleen

Those are the terms Kathleen uses in her explanation.


Using your terms, where are they?

You will get no argument from me...

But, I will call you out on inaccurate statements.

I think that a seasoned pro like Kathleen might be amused at all of the anonymous "arm-chair editors" like you and all of your suggestions on how her contribution should be rewritten.

Why don't you whip off an essay that we can use that is significantly better than her's?

You suggest that Kathleen should actually read the newsletters. Have you? Where are they? Do you have links to the scanned PDFs?

There is a lot of hearsay at the foundation of this "scandal".

That's fine, you can ignore

That's fine, you can ignore me and write me off as a nobody. I am no seasoned pro. Isn't the point of this community to bounce ideas off of each other, provide constructive criticism, discuss topics, etc?

As I've mentioned in nearly all of my posts on this topic, I think she provides a great explanation...but I had one specific critique which I've made abundantly clear. If she disagrees or does not see it as a weakness in her explanation, so be it.

Yes, I have read a few of the newsletters. I could pull the PDFs of the newsletters off the web and post them here, but I don't see that as being valuable nor do I want to contribute to spreading them around the web.

Kathleen Gee's picture

I can't condemn something I haven't read.


I haven't read them. Unlike the media and Dr. Paul's opponents, I'm not going to comment on something I haven't read. If you want a blanket condemnation of bigotry from me, you've got it. I'm a libertarian like Dr. Paul. That's a given.

I've read one online article from which one of the "damning" quotes was pulled. I don't know if the article was in one of Ron Paul's newsletters or not. I have no way of confirming that.

But whether it was or not, A) Ron Paul clearly didn't write it and B) I don't find it to be bigoted, I find it to be horribly politically incorrect, but understandable, given the times when it was supposedly written.

"Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid." - Ronald Reagan

Public Relations Consulting

Interesting first post,

implying that there is any validity to the newsletters, Mr. 12 hour member.

I have read the newsletters personally, and there isn't any form of racism or homophobia in them.
At the very worst, there was some politically incorrect stereotyping.
Certainly no crime. Anyone who makes a mountain out of that has an axe to grind, because there is no foul there.

Let's be honest,

these newsletters are going to be a big part of the smear against Ron Paul, and if we have people trying to defend the newsletters as being rational and having no sense of racism, we lose all credibility.

Listen, I think Kathleen does a great job of explaining and addressing concerns with the newsletters, but I think she should stick with that.

I would just suggest omitting any sort of defense of the racist remarks and stick with what's true. Ron Paul did not write them, he doesn't agree with the narrow-mindedness of the views shared in the articles, and the racist and homophobic thoughts are inconsistent with his worldly views.

Let's be really honest

and acknowledge that the MSM will not touch this again.
They tried it in '08 and got burned.

That is how one learns not to touch a hot stove.

CNN, MSNBC and of course Fox News have already brought it up

this election cycle. Hopefully it dies off, but I've got a feeling Hannity, Rush and company won't let it go...at least until they can come up with some real ammunition.

The reality is that like other issues in this campaign,

when people take the time to actually read the entire articles in question in context, they will then conclude that the "racism" charges are bogus - because they are.

The statements in context are NOT racist. That's the point.

Even if people are willing to ascribe some responsibility to Dr. Paul and decide not to support him because of it, when they read the actual newsletter articles, they'll find there isn't much there to get upset about.

And the real bottom line is like the OP noted - there is no danger of racist policy from Ron Paul as President. Not only would it never fly, there is no empirical evidence he's ever made such a move in the 12 terms he's served in Congress.

This entire fiasco is nothing but smear and incitement to hatred. And THAT (the incitement part) borders on criminal activity itself.