That’s the allegation of Tom Lauria, a bankruptcy lawyer opposing the Chrysler restructuring plan:
One of my clients was directly threatened by the White House and in essence compelled to withdraw its opposition to the deal under the threat that the full force of the White House Press Corps would destroy its reputation if it continued to fight.
This is a stunning allegation, going to the heart of our supposedly independent press. Personally, I can believe it. Considering how willing the press corps has been to take direction from the administration (the White House spokesman gave them a “strong A”), it’s a very believable threat. And it would be surprising if the bare-knuckles Chicago politicians running the White House would choose to leave a weapon on the table.
The question now is whether the press will investigate this allegation. Their integrity (what’s left of it) is at stake.
UPDATE: The client is now denying it too. This doesn’t really prove anything, since no one would want to admit to being bullied by the White House, and it would surely get them all the bad publicity they would have been trying to avoid. However, we’re left with nothing but Lauria’s say-so at this point.
FURTHER UPDATE: After a second look, I agree with the Business Insider that the client, Perella Weinberg, is not denying the allegation. The Weinberg statement merely says that Weinberg did not change his position due to threats; it does not say that no threats were issued. Indeed, it appears to be worded carefully to avoid doing so.
FINAL UPDATE: It’s not just Lauria now.