A lead writer on the hit 90s sitcom Seinfeld has said he is appalled that Stephen Bannon, Donald Trump’s campaign manager who is set to become a senior adviser in the president-elect’s administration, continues to make a fortune off his stake in the comedy series.
Peter Mehlman told the Guardian on Friday it was “galling” that a “raging anti-Semite” should make “all this money off a show that’s associated with Jewish humor.”
Bannon, the former editor of the right-wing Breitbart news website, began his career as an investment banker. A 1993 deal he brokered for the acquisition of Seinfeld production company Castle Rock Entertainment by Ted Turner left him with a share of the series’ royalties.
Bannon has been accused of anti-Semitism and bigotry. He has also called his website a “platform for the alt-right,” a movement that has been accused of xenophobia and racism, and which recently made headlines when one of its figureheads used white supremacist rhetoric at a conference and was met with Nazi salutes.
Bannon has denied all accusations of bigotry. While several Jewish groups have called on Trump to cancel his appointment, Israel’s ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, and Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel have publicly backed Bannon, as have other Jewish groups, including the Zionist Organization of America.
Aaron Klein, the Jerusalem bureau chief for Breitbart, told the Times of Israel recently that Bannon is not only “not an anti-Semite — he’s a fighter against anti-Semitism.”
Mehlman, however, remained unconvinced.
“If he’s not anti-Semitic what do you have to do to be considered anti-Semitic? Shoot Woody Allen?” he said.
Mehlman said he was not sure how much Bannon makes off the show, which continues to generate money through syndication, but it was likely an impressive sum.
“He made a ton of money. It was a smart decision,” he said. “It doesn’t make him any less miserable as a human being.”