Jeff Kwatinetz, founder of the Hollywood management company The Firm, has told the Hollywood Reporter that Stephen K Bannon — his former partner, the former Breitbart executive chairman, and now White House senior adviser — is “not a racist or anti-Semitic.”
Kwatinetz, who supported socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in the 2016 presidential elections, went further, calling Bannon “brilliant” and vouching for his “great character.”
In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter’s Paul Bond, Kwatinetz explained that while he disagreed with Bannon’s views, he admired his ability to express them and respected his right to do so:
Did you know his politics?
I don’t remember at what point I learned his politics, but as a liberal I believe in a free marketplace of ideas and I have people who believe all sorts of things at my company, and I’m very politically active. While Steve worked with me, I’d given seven figures to the DCCC, presidential candidates such as Richard Gephardt and Bill Bradley as well as several statewide candidates and others. But as a liberal, I don’t judge people on their politics, I judge them on their character, and from what I knew then and what I know now, Steve has great character. He’s not a racist or anti-Semitic. Things like that are absurd.
Did you ever witness anything that could be interpreted as anti-Semitic?
I know that he’s not anti-Semitic. I am absolutely positive that he’s not anti-Semitic or racist. It is absurd. I am Jewish, Roy Furman was Jewish, Andrew Breitbart was Jewish. He is not anti-Semitic. Period.
So why does MSNBC keep talking about him being anti-Semitic?
Because they’re wrong. A lot of sane liberals realize there’s bias in the press in both directions. I’ve gotten credit in the press for things I don’t deserve credit for and I’ve been blamed in the press for things I shouldn’t be blamed for. It’s hard for people to understand how much is untrue until they’re the subject of a story. But when it comes to Steve, he’s not part of the establishment and his values are not for sale. He believes what he believes and he stands by it. People don’t like it when someone has conviction. …
Can you give me specific anecdotes that could help us understand his working style?
I don’t want to define someone by a specific anecdote because, not by you but by someone else, it will be re-quoted and bastardized. I can just tell you that people who worked with Steve admired him. All my partners admired him. Most of the senior executives in my company are flabbergasted by the negative portrayal of him. I had one former female executive literally crying on the phone with me: “Why are you letting people lie about Steve like this?” I mean, Steve worked his ass off and did good work.
The full interview is here.
Kwatinetz also defended Bannon’s business record in Hollywood, and stressed the danger of demonizing people because of their views.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.