Was Rev. Wright Offered Hush Money? Nobody In The Media Cares

When the New York Times warned it had been handed a “super PAC” memo suggesting someone, somewhere might plot to make a “hardline attack on Obama” with Wright sermon soundbites, MSNBC expressed outrage hour after hour.  But scandalized liberal journalists had no appetite for a different behind-the-scenes Reverend Wright narrative. In Ed Klein’s new book “The Amateur,” he interviewed Rev. Wright on tape for three hours. The most shocking revelation: suggestions that Friends of Barack were trying to suggest Wright take some “hush money” to shut up for the rest of the 2008 campaign. Media interest? Pretty much zero. 

Let’s imagine for two seconds what would happen if a friend of George W. Bush – even a disgruntled ex-friend of Bush – gave an interview to an author charging that Team Bush offered him money to shut up and go away during the 2000 campaign. Who would not expect that would have been screaming-siren top news? 

 

The friend contained in the accusation, Eric Whitaker, is a complete nobody as far as the media is concerned. Their lack of interest in the president's best friends and whether those friends are also working as political fixers demonstrates the media's obsequious bias. A little Nexis search shows NBC News has never mentioned Whitaker. ABC announced the name just once, on the morning of Inaugration Day:

DIANE SAWYER: While Michelle and the girls were out at that Jonas Brothers concert, the President-elect was joined by two of his oldest friends from Chicago, Marty Nesbitt and Eric Whitaker,  two of his closest friends from Chicago. He wanted - them to ride along with him to all the parties he had to go to last night, symbolize that friendship, seal in that friendship before he enters into his new life today.

On CBS, reporter Sharyl Attkisson mentioned Whitaker once in an October 28, 2009 story on Obama fundraising: "Some donors are long-time friends of Mr. Obama's. Those are his buddies Eric Whitaker and Marty Nesbitt watching the Super Bowl at the White House movie theater."

Journalists would suggest that Klein is not a credible author, with a habit of making wild charges with anonymous sources. When Klein’s book “The Truth About Hillary” came out in 2005, Joe Scarborough declared: "I just applied the Kitty Kelley test. If it was inappropriate to have Kitty Kelley on because of unsubstantiated charges, it would be inappropriate to have Ed Klein on."

But then, the media have not declined to give air time to Kitty Kelley over the years, especially over at Scarborough’s haunt, NBC. In mid-September of 2004, NBC’s Matt Lauer gave three days of interviews to Kelley about her Bush-bashing book "The Family," despite bizarre claims tales like Laura Bush dealing drugs. NBC just hosted her again last year for her book attacking Oprah Winfrey. 

Liberals like the outraged activists at The New York Times want to make sure no one is allowed to bring up Reverend Wright again. On MSNBC, they were demanding pledges that this would be banned from any honorable discussions of the campaign. Few seem to understand why Rev. Wright still resonates among conservatives. It's not about race -- except that black racists like Wright are never called out by liberals -- it's about a vicious hatred for America, so vicious that you almost cheer 9/11 because America had it coming. Who can support that view in a pew and with your donations? Obama did.

In 2001, when Rev. Jerry Falwell suggested 9/11 was God’s punishment for America’s moral laxity, Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter accused: “the larger conservative movement has done little or nothing to repudiate the founder of the Moral Majority, and he's still in business. Talk about double standards." Alter somehow ignored a pile of conservative condemnations, and Falwell’s apology. 

Fast forward to 2008, when we learned Rev. Wright suggested 9/11 was a fate America deserved, our “chickens coming home to roost.” Alter, the alleged hater of double standards, wrote “As the afterglow of last week's landmark Philadelphia speech on race fades, even many conservatives agree with liberal editorial writers that Obama's approach was brilliant.” When Hillary Clinton tried to keep the Wright issue alive, Alter wrote a week later that it “only reinforced the impression that her recent setbacks have left her desperate.”

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis