Many years ago, when I was the editorial-page editor of a New England newspaper, the telephone rang at my desk. On the line was the head of the Washington Post Writers Group, which syndicates columnists, and he was offering me a regional exclusive: The Reverend Jesse Jackson was about to begin producing op-ed columns. Would I be interested in running them?
“I might be interested in running them,” I said, “but will Jackson actually be writing them?” His answer suggested that I was not the first editor to have posed the question. Choosing his words with care, he replied: “I can guarantee that he’ll be signing off on every column.” This memory returned to me as I was reading Jill Abramson’s Merchants of Truth.