We already knew much of what liberal Hollywood executive Jeff Kwatinetz had to tell the Hollywood Reporter about Steve Bannon. As conservatives we’ve gotten to observe Bannon and his friends over the last few years and we knew that Bannon was no “white supremacist” based on the company that he kept. His best friends are Jewish and he’d never had any complaints about racism, hate-mongering, or boorishness… that is until he went to work for Donald Trump. (Oddly, President Trump had never been called any of those things either… until he started running for President.)
But it’s still nice to hear a liberal publication like the Hollywood Reporter forced to explain that Bannon is no hater.
Why did you bring Bannon into The Firm? What did he bring to the table?
Steve was a very successful banker and is brilliant. He understood M&A and financial transactions and The Firm was growing.
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 [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee], 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.
So why are people saying those things about him?
I’ve had 20 people who worked at The Firm when Steve was there ask me why the media is lying about Steve. Unlike most of us, Steve is very at ease with himself. He doesn’t need people to correct falsehoods, and he didn’t ask us to do so. He’s a great person who wants the world to be a better place. He’s a good friend and an incredibly hard worker. He has beliefs and stands by them. Those beliefs aren’t based on racism, they’re based on what he honestly believes is best for the world. Do I agree with all of them? No. He was a Bush and a [Donald] Rumsfeld supporter, I was a Bill Clinton and Bernie Sanders supporter. But not being a liberal doesn’t mean you’re a racist.
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. Every reporter has their reason for attacking Steve and I can’t say what that is, just as I can’t say why Bernie Sanders was attacked, or Richard Gephardt and Nancy Pelosi and even John F. Kennedy in the day.