A journalist admitted last week to keeping a picture he took of then-Sen. Barack Obama and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan in 2005 under wraps for fear of hurting the former's political career.
Askia Muhammad took the photo of Obama and the controversial activist while the future president met with the Congressional Black Caucus. Muhammad told Talking Points Memo that a CBC staffer contacted him in a "panic" at the time over what the photo could do to Obama's political ambitions.
Muhammad ultimately turned the photo over to Farrakhan's son-in-law and chief of staff. He kept a copy for himself but didn't release it until last week.
"I gave the picture up at the time and basically swore secrecy," Muhammad said in an interview with the Trice Edney News Wire. "But after the nomination was secured and all the way up until the inauguration; then for eight years after he was President, it was kept under cover."
Asked if he felt the picture would have made a difference in Obama's 2008 run for the presidency, Muhammad said, "It absolutely would have made a difference."
He told Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Thursday about why he thought the CBC feared the picture's publication.
"Perhaps they sensed the future. This was 2005 now," he said. "He had just been in office a few months … As people considered the ambitions, the thought was Minister Farrakhan and his reputation would hurt someone trying to win acceptance in the broad cross section."
Obama's past friendly relationships with radical figures like Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers dogged him during the 2008 campaign. Farrakhan has made anti-Semitic, anti-white and anti-gay statements during his career, and a published photo of the two smiling together likely would have stirred more controversy around his candidacy.
Muhammad told Carlson members of the Nation of Islam were "angry" with Obama for denouncing statements made by Farrakhan during his successful White House run.