Both the Obama administration and many traditional news outlets have blown off the claim in journalist Ed Klein’s book that Eric Whitaker, a close friend of President Obama’s, tried bribing the Rev. Jeremiah Wright to stay quiet during the 2008 election.
But it turns out that Klein’s book — “The Amateur” — actually isn’t the first recorded instance of Wright, Obama’s former inflammatory pastor, claiming someone tried to pay him off to stay quiet while Obama ran for president.
In David Remnick’s 2010 book, “The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama,” the author quotes Wright saying he was offered cash to shut up by a friend concerned that his history of incendiary sermons could doom Obama’s hopes of winning the White House.
“One Obama supporter — a ‘close friend of Barack’s,’ Wright claimed—even offered to send Wright money if he would only be quiet,” Remnick wrote. “Wright refused. He was retired now and needed to earn a living and help support grandchildren in college.”
Remnick quoted Wright saying he wasn’t interested in the money being offered.
“Where’s the money going to come from?” he said. “I’m just going to be quiet until November the fifth? I’m not supposed to say a word? What do I tell these people who have invited me to preach? All of these dates between April and November? So, no, I didn’t cancel engagements, and I didn’t cancel what I was supposed to be doing.”
This part of Remnick’s book doesn’t appear to have gotten much attention at the time of its publication. Likewise, many major news outlets — outside of Fox News and the New York Post — have not devoted much attention to Wright’s claims in Klein’s book.
Wright told Klein in a 3-hour interview for the book that Obama’s close friend Eric Whitaker was behind an offer of $150,000 in return for his silence during the campaign.
In a recent interview with The Daily Caller, Klein said of the media: “I think it’s because they don’t want to embarrass the president. I think they’re protecting the president. I mean, I think it’s as simple as that.”
Klein also told TheDC that Wright has possession of the email offering him the money. It’s in a cardboard box along with a lot of other documents that Wright plans to use after the 2012 presidential election to write his autobiography, Klein said.
On Friday, Whitaker responded to Klein’s book, telling Jake Tapper of ABC News, “I have received your message asking whether I’d offered any sort of a bribe during the 2008 campaign. The answer is no. Thank you for giving me the chance to respond.”
Asked to respond to Whitaker’s denial, Klein was skeptical. “Did he offer him money? Did he send the email? He didn’t deny either of those things.”
“It’s not a clear-cut denial of the story,” Klein told TheDC.