Over the past five years, David Stein has made a name for himself as a leader for Hollywood's conservatives. As an operator for the popular website Republican Party Animals, he hosted right-wing congressmen and celebrities at parties, and he was a regular on conservative talk shows. But it turns out Stein had a bizarre secret.
Two weeks ago, Stein was unmasked as David Cole, an infamous Holocaust revisionist who questioned the existence of Nazi gas chambers. Throughout the 90s, he was a guest on talk shows like The Phil Donahue Show and The Montel Williams Show, and profiled by the likes of 48 Hours and 60 Minutes.
Stein/Cole was revealed as a Holocaust revisionist after he had a falling out with a friend in April. That friend, who Cole called an “exceptionally vindictive young lady” in a blog post he wrote about the incident, showed Cole's immediate social circle a series of YouTube videos of Cole spouting his Holocaust revisionist bullshit.
"My friends are horrified," said Cole, now aged 44 and with greying hair. "They rang and emailed to ask if it really was me. The Hollywood types are the ones hurting the most right now because they could be harmed by this. I'm feeling a certain amount of guilt."
Cole, who insists he is a genuine conservative, said his betrayal would sting all the more because conservatives in Hollywood are a "persecuted minority" who must hide their political convictions from the intolerant liberals who dominate the industry:
"I don't blame them for jettisoning me. Everyone is scared to death. They don't want this to range beyond Facebook."
So scared, in fact, that, according to the Guardian, Cole's friends with blogs, newspaper columns and radio shows refused to report on the story.
Cole, who was raised Jewish, said he grew initially uneasy after his crackpot theories became popular with white supremacists and Islamic radicals. He stopped appearing publicly after the Oklahoma City bombings in 1995, and in 1998 he renounced his views because of a death threat from the Jewish Defense League. Later that year, he changed his last name to Stein.
Cole told the Guardian that Obama’s election in 2008 inspired him to create the conservative networking site Republican Party Animals, which, in the vein of PJ O'Rourke, promised “scantily-clad women, drink, fun, loud music."
Those promises were enough to lure at least two congressmen, Thaddeus McCotter and Mike Kelly, to events hosted by the blog, not to mention tons of obscure Hollywood C-listers, like Lloyd Lee Barnett, one of the visual effects artists for Avatar. Cole also made a several conventional Holocaust documentaries in order to “give mainstream audiences what they wanted.”
After Cole's history was revealed, some of his friends and acquaintances told the Guardian that Cole had always been somewhat dishonest, an exaggerator.
Scott Edwards, an Oregon-based businessman, said he founded Republican Party Animals in 2009 and that Cole, claiming to be a Hollywood bigshot, took over the website and was involved in organising just a few events. "He never ran the group. Things started happening behind the scenes so I kicked him out in February 2012." Cole, however, continued controlling the website, networking and organising events under the Republican Party Animals banner until last month.
And it turns out, despite his public renouncement, Cole was actively a Holocaust revisionist throughout his rise to fame within the conservative movement.
"The best guess is yes, there were gas chambers" he says. "But there is still a lot of murkiness about the camps. I haven't changed my views. But I regret I didn't have the facility with language that I have now. I was just a kid," he said this week.
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