Jeffrey Katzenberg Under Fire From Hollywood Biden Donors: ‘Jeffrey Lied’

Hollywood donors who forked over $30 million to the Biden campaign just three weeks ago are furious with campaign co-chair Jeffrey Katzenberg after witnessing the president’s disastrous debate performance last week, insiders told TheWrap.

“What Jeffrey Katzenberg has done here is unbelievable,” said one Hollywood power broker, donor and influential Democrat who declined to be identified. “Jeffrey lied about the whole Biden thing. The whole Biden inner circle lied… It’s such an act of hypocrisy.”

“Everyone is furious,” said a leading Hollywood Democratic insider. “People are pissed – they feel betrayed.”

They feel betrayed, certainly, because as an elder statesman of the Hollywood community, Katzenberg has personally vouched for Biden’s mental and physical capacity despite concerns voiced early on by donors about the president’s age.

Indeed, a glowing New York Times profile of the entertainment mogul barely two weeks ago opened on this very issue:

“When President Biden made clear last year that he was planning to run for another term, some important Democratic contributors expressed doubt. He was too old, they feared. He was not up to another four years. It fell to Jeffrey Katzenberg to tell them they were wrong,” wrote Peter Baker.

The article continued: “When some still did not believe him, Mr. Katzenberg challenged them to come to Washington and find out for themselves — then arranged to bring the dubious donors to the White House to sit down with the octogenarian president to convince them he was still sharp enough.”

And just three weeks ago, a star-studded fundraiser for Biden with George Clooney, Jimmy Kimmel and Julia Roberts raised more than $30 million from the community, touted as the most successful in party history.

The campaign has been gripped by crisis since last Thursday’s debate in which the president appeared dazed, unfocused and mumbled half-answers, generally appearing to be a senior citizen in need of aid, not the leader of the free world. The ensuing discussion has led to whether Biden should step aside, but also a damning debate about who covered up when and why.

In recent days, major entertainment figures including Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings, Hollywood showrunner Damon Lindelof, media mogul Barry Diller and Disney heir Abigail Disney have all called on Biden to step aside. Many have said publicly and privately that they will stop donating to the Biden campaign and redirect their Democratic giving to down-ballot races instead.

Katzenberg’s role in that debate about a cover-up is the talk of Hollywood. At a summer disco party last weekend where Hollywood showrunners hung out with their families “not a single person wanted Biden to stay in,” said the Democratic insider.

Outside of politics, though, the damage for Katzenberg is more complex. His relationships within the entertainment industry are precious. “It would be easier for Jeffrey to get closer to any president than to lose his reputation in Hollywood,” observed the insider.

The power broker said that Katzenberg was looking to reestablish himself after the failure of his tech company, Quibi, and had hounded people to support Biden in the relentless way he’s attacked every objective in his storied career.

“Jeffrey is doing exactly what he did with Quibi,” the power broker said. “He just won’t stop calling you, so you just give him money to get [him to leave you alone]. You donate the money. And a lot of people did it. But that’s what happens with Jeffrey.”

“He wants to be a power broker and has completely lost sight of the objective here – which he would say is to get rid of Trump – without telling anybody the truth about his guy,” this person said.

Several political observers who spoke to TheWrap noted that Katzenberg has been silent since the debate. The Financial Times reported that the campaign co-chair “raised eyebrows” the day after the debate when he failed to show up to a meeting to coordinate celebrity endorsements.

As days pass since the debate, the feeling in Hollywood has only deepened that Biden should step aside. And many are turning their gaze to Vice President Kamala Harris.

For his part, Biden remains steadfast that he’s staying in the race and will attempt to further quell fears about his health during an ABC News interview on Friday night with George Stephanopoulos.

Reached by TheWrap, Katzenberg referred questions about his role to the Biden campaign spokesman. The spokesman did not get back to TheWrap ahead of publication.

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