Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
President Obama's controversial former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, is back in the news. Edward Klein, a former New York Times Magazine editor and author of a forthcoming unauthorized Obama biography called The Amateur, said in Sunday's New York Post that Wright, by his own account, was indirectly offered $150,000 by one of Obama's "closest friends" to stop preaching until after the 2008 presidential election. Wright told Klein that he turned the offer down. Conservative bloggers are leaping on the story, insisting that Obama tried to "bribe" Wright to deflect attention from the pastor's sometimes incendiary, racially charged sermons. What really happened?
It certainly sounds like Obama tried to pay off Wright: This sounds like a "bribe," says Ben Shapiro at Breitbart.com. According to Klein, an Obama ally offered the cash, and Obama personally asked Wright to stop speaking publicly. Maybe Obama "never disowned Wright's views," after all, and just wanted to "pay him off to keep him quiet" so nobody would notice until after the election.
"Wright: Obama tried to bribe me to keep quiet in 2008"
The right-wing outrage machine is really distorting this: Once again, right-wing blogs are in "a frenzied uproar over a bogus report," says Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs. Not only that, but they're "hyping and distorting" it even beyond the original, exaggerated version. Wright, according to Klein, says some unnamed person made the offer to a member of his church. Even if the account is true — "a big 'if'" — neither Obama nor his campaign directly offered Wright a penny.
"Fake outrage of the day: Obama campaign 'tried to bribe Rev. Wright'"
And Edward Klein isn't exactly Bob Woodward: Klein "paints Obama as a liar, and Wright as an inveterate truth teller," says Brayden Simms at Metro. But maybe the real fibber here is Klein. Media on the Left and the Right have described his work as lacking credibility — his book The Obama Identity: A Novel (Or Is It?) suggests Obama was born in Kenya and financed by America's enemies. It might be worth examining Obama's contact with Wright, but "take Klein's reporting with more than just a grain of salt."
"Did Barack Obama offer ’08 hush money?"