Bank of America
The U.S. Department of Justice said it is reviewing statements and actions by big banks and their trade associations to see if they have violated antitrust laws through coordinated action to raise consumer debit card fees. But experts say an actual investigation is fairly unlikely. REUTERS

Journalist Malcolm Gladwell told The Atlantic Wire Wednesday that although Bank of America tapped him to speak at events focusing on small businesses over the past few weeks, he had no idea the corporation crowed about the arrangement in a press release.

Of course, Gladwell's description of the topic might explain why Bank of America's statement seems a little light on details.

"The speech in question was about the history of the rock band Fleetwood Mac," Gladwell said.

As for the claims from critics on Twitter that taking an offer from Bank of America resulted in a conflict of interest, the bestselling author of "Outliers: The Story of Success" maintained that he's got clean hands.

"I don't consult, advise, collaborate or promote," Gladwell said. "But like any number of other writers these days who do speaking on the side, I'm happy to chat about whatever I'm working on to whomever wants to listen."

In the statement, Bank of America noted that Gladwell got an audience approaching 200 at each talk in Los Angeles on Sept. 27, Dallas on Nov. 3 and Washington, D.C. Tuesday.

"I haven't been asked to do anything else," said Gladwell, "and imagine that's it."

Besides, judging from what Tom Kristof -- founder of an assisted-living facility at the SOZO Center in Texas -- had to say in the release about his experience, seeing Gladwell was merely the icing on the cake.

"Between Gladwell's speech, the panel discussion and the opportunity to network with other members of my local community, I found the event to be both informative and a valuable use of any small business owner's precious time," he gushed.