There’s no doubt Whitaker is close to the president. Whitaker was with Obama during the president’s last Christmas vacation in Hawaii — and the Christmas before that and the Christmas before that and the Christmas before that. Whitaker was also with Obama last summer on Martha’s Vineyard — and the summer before that and the summer before that.

In the interview with Klein, Wright said Whitaker was involved in events in 2007 when the Obama campaign, wary about bad publicity over Wright’s sermons, retracted an invitation for Wright to give the invocation at the Springfield, Ill., event in which Obama announced his presidential candidacy. But Wright said Obama still wanted a pastor from Trinity United to be involved. According to Wright, Whitaker called Rev. Otis Moss III, Wright’s successor at Trinity, to ask him to give the invocation. Wright says Obama, in a later phone conversation, denied knowing what Whitaker had done. But Wright appears to suspect that Whitaker has long been a part of Obama’s Jeremiah Wright damage control operation.

So the allegation is there: Wright says he was offered money by a close Obama friend to disappear at a key moment in the 2008 campaign. In what way is that not newsworthy?

A top Obama re-election official says the campaign will not comment on Wright’s allegations, saying Klein’s book is simply not credible. But listening to the recording, Wright said what he said. It is news.