Hollywood divided over Biden's candidacy-Xinhua

Hollywood divided over Biden's candidacy

Source: Xinhua| 2024-07-10 16:12:15|Editor:

by Julia Pierrepont III, Huang Heng

LOS ANGELES, July 9 (Xinhua) -- In the wake of President Joe Biden's shaky performance during a recent presidential debate, a rift has emerged among Hollywood's elite regarding his continued candidacy.

While many of Biden's celebrity backers continue their support, some previously fervent supporters, like Damon Lindelof and Barry Diller, have ceased donations to Biden's re-election efforts, signaling a potential shift in Hollywood's political landscape.

Hollywood is a major source of campaign funding for many candidates. The entertainment industry comprises numerous wealthy individuals who can make substantial donations. These funds are critical for campaign activities such as advertising, organizing events, and mobilizing voters.

Jessica Levinson, an election law professor at Loyola Marymount University, emphasized to the press the critical role that Hollywood's financial support plays in political campaigns.

"Deciding whether Biden can stay in the presidential race will come down to three factors -- Democratic Party leadership, the president's polling performance and sentiment among big donors," Levinson, who teaches election law at the university, was quoted by the official website of the university.

She noted that if key donors withdraw their support, it could signal broader challenges for Biden's re-election bid, impacting not just his campaign finances but also the overall morale and strategic direction of the Democratic Party.

"If your key donors jump ship, that's not just a pocketbook hit, but it's a big signal to other people as well," she told the Los Angeles Times.

Just three weeks ago, Hollywood donors poured 30 million U.S. dollars into Biden's campaign at a star-studded fundraiser hosted by Jeffrey Katzenberg, a movie mogul and co-chair of the Biden campaign. However, Biden's recent debate debacle has spurred a crisis, with some insiders accusing Katzenberg of misleading them about the president's age-related fitness for office.

Various news outlets reported some anonymous Hollywood powerbrokers expressing outrage and a sense of betrayal among some donors who felt Katzenberg had mistakenly reassured them of Biden's capabilities.

"What Jeffrey Katzenberg has done here is unbelievable," one Hollywood power broker, donor and influential Democrat who declined to be identified told the Wrap, an entertainment news outlet, "Jeffrey lied about the whole Biden thing. The whole Biden inner circle lied ... It's such an act of hypocrisy."

Key figures like Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings and Disney heir Abigail Disney, who used to be strong supporters, called for Biden to step aside last week.

This sentiment is felt among the Democratic rank and file, causing some to redirect their contributions to down-ballot Congressional races instead of the presidential campaign.

The controversy highlighted internal divisions within Hollywood's elite. While some donors have ceased their contributions, others remain supportive or undecided.

The situation is further complicated by Katzenberg's apparent absence from crucial campaign meetings following the debate on June 27, raising questions about his continued role and influence in Biden's reelection efforts.

But according to a report from Deadline Hollywood, Katzenberg joined a conference call of major donors Tuesday morning in Biden's latest attempt to shift the tide and shut down the talk of him stepping back for another candidate.

The internal turmoil within Hollywood is a microcosm of a broader debate within the Democratic Party.

Some politicians and media outlets have echoed calls for Biden to make way for a new candidate. Columnists and political analysts have pointed out that even long-time allies of Biden, like former California Senator Barbara Boxer, have expressed concerns about his debate performance, suggesting he has a limited window to prove his capability to lead effectively.

Despite the mounting pressure, Biden's defenders, such as former President Barack Obama and First Lady Jill Biden, argue that one poor debate should not overshadow his administration's achievements.

While the unfolding drama underscored the critical role Hollywood donors play in shaping political campaigns, many voters said they were disgusted with those celebrities who tried to attract significant media attention and help shape the narrative.

"Hollywood donors pressuring Biden show the arrogance of the wealthy," The Los Angeles Times published three letters to the newspaper's editor Tuesday.

"President Biden may stay in the race, he may not. In either case, I'm sure it's comforting to our NATO allies to read that critical U.S. political decisions are being made by movie stars and blockbuster producers. But that's what you get with a system that forces voters to choose not the best-qualified politician but the best-funded." Bart Braverman, a resident from Indio, California, said in the letter.