The New Yorker magazine has cancelled plans to interview former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon to its annual festival next month after numerous panelists announced they would drop out if he remained.
David Remnick, the US-based magazine’s editor-in-chief, announced the reversal on Twitter on Monday after the festival’s lineup was met with immediate backlash.
“I’ve thought this through and talked to colleagues – and I’ve re-considered,” Remnick, who has repeatedly denounced US President Donald Trump and his administration, wrote in a statement of his decision on Bannon.
“There is a better way to do this. Our writers have interviewed Steve Bannon for The New Yorker before, and if the opportunity presents itself I’ll interview him in a more traditionally journalistic setting as we first discussed, and not on stage,” he said.
A statement from David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, explaining his decision to no longer include Steve Bannon in the 2018 New Yorker Festival. pic.twitter.com/opayiw5GQ2
— The New Yorker (@NewYorker) September 3, 2018
The move came after several panelists said they would not share a platform with Bannon, whose influence was seen as having driven Trump’s travel ban on majority Muslim countries and his reaction to the killing of a protester by a white supremacist in Charlottesville, Virginia last year.
“If Steve Bannon is at the New Yorker festival I am out,” wrote comedian and Hollywood producer Judd Apatow. “I will not take part in an event that normalizes hate.”
If Steve Bannon is at the New Yorker festival I am out. I will not take part in an event that normalizes hate. I hope the @NewYorker will do the right thing and cancel the Steve Bannon event. Maybe they should read their own reporting about his ideology.
— Judd Apatow (@JuddApatow) September 3, 2018
“Bannon? And me? On the same program? Could never happen,” added actor Jim Carrey.
Bannon? And me? On the same program?
Could never happen.
— Jim Carrey (@JimCarrey) September 3, 2018
Bannon, who was to headline the prestigious festival, denounced Remnick in a statement.
“The reason for my acceptance was simple: I would be facing one of the most fearless journalists of his generation. In what I would call a defining moment, David Remnick showed he was gutless when confronted by the howling online mob,” he said.
Since leaving the White House last year, Bannon has continued to champion right-wing causes, including supporting British anti-Islam activist Tommy Robinson, who was freed from prison last month after winning a legal challenge over contempt charges.
He has also announced plans to set up a foundation in Europe, called “The Movement”, to spark a populist right-wing revolt.
Bannon is scheduled to appear September 15 at The Economist’s “Open Future” festival in New York City.
According to The Economist, festival attendees will “discuss the most urgent issues of our time and remake the case for liberal values”. At least one guest already plans to drop out.
Several activists, filmmakers, writers and journalists condemned the New Yorker’s invitation to Bannon, claiming the magazine was providing him with a platform to propagate white-nationalist views.
He created an online home for white nationalists to groom and grow their violent base. He cemented his destructive white supremacist views into the DNA of the White House. Now, New Yorker is selling tickets to see him headline. And here we are, folks. https://t.co/JyK8J13Zko
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) September 3, 2018
Bannon is the Evangelist of American White Supremacy. He is integrating the USA AltRight into European racist, fascists conservative Movement. His goal is to destroy American democracy & replace it with a Russian styled autocracy. #WhyHelpHim? @NewYorker @TheEconomist https://t.co/4CSv8ebxko
— Malcolm Nance (@MalcolmNance) September 3, 2018
If Steve Bannon were in the administration or still the head of Breitbart, you could make a claim he's an influencer and then invite and challenge him. But the dude is struggling, trying to create "The Movement" in Europe. The New Yorker invite only helps him.
— Wajahat "Wears a Mask Because of a Pandemic" Ali (@WajahatAli) September 3, 2018
Bannon is a marginal crank whose flagging career is being revived by The New Yorker and The Economist. Who pays the price for the mainstreaming of his racism? Not the self-congratulatory ‘free speech’ festival crowd who’ll pay to hear him.
— Hari Kunzru (@harikunzru) September 3, 2018
The New Yorker’s reversal, however, was also criticised by conservative commentators.
"Steve Bannon dropped from New Yorker Festival after outrage from Judd Apatow, Patton Oswalt, John Mulaney and more speakers"
— Larry Elder (@larryelder) September 4, 2018
New Yorker Editor David Remnick disinvites Steve Bannon from festival after readers balk, Jim Carrey, Judd Apatow threaten to walk. So much for interviewing people with different views
— HowardKurtz (@HowardKurtz) September 3, 2018
The New Yorker Festival’s 19th edition will take place from October 5 to 7 and will include anti-gun activist David Hogg, actress Emily Blunt and writers Haruki Murakami and Zadie Smith.