New Yorker disinvites Bannon from festival following backlash

Greg Nash

The New Yorker on Monday disinvited former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon from the magazine’s fall festival next month following outcry over his inclusion in the event.

Bannon’s scheduled appearance at the annual festival sparked significant backlash Monday as a number of attendees, including actor Jim Carrey and comedian John Mulaney, said they were withdrawing from the event.

“I don’t want well-meaning readers and staff members to think that I’ve ignored their concerns,” New Yorker editor David Remnick said in a statement on Monday that was shared to the magazine’s Twitter account.

{mosads}”I’ve thought this through and talked to colleagues — and I’ve reconsidered. I’ve changed my mind.” 

Remnick said that he would not interview Bannon on stage during the event as previously planned, but said that “if the opportunity presents itself” in the future he would plan to interview the former Breitbart News executive “in a more traditionally journalistic setting.”

Remnick noted that those objecting to the interview argued that Bannon would “propel further the ‘ideas’ of white nationalism, racism, anti-Semitism, and illiberalism.” But Remnick maintained that “to interview Bannon is not to endorse him.”

“By conducting an interview with one of Trumpism’s leading creators and organizers, we are hardly pulling him out of obscurity,” he said. “Ahead of the mid-term elections and with 2020 in sight, we’d be taking the opportunity to question someone who helped assemble Trumpism.”

In addition to Mulaney and Carrey, singer Jack Antonoff, producer Judd Apatow and actor Patton Oswalt were among those Monday who said they wouldn’t attend the festival due to the inclusion of Bannon.

Additionally, writer Roxane Gay said she pulled an essay she was writing for The New Yorker because she could not “wrap my mind around this Bannon thing.”

Bannon slammed The New Yorker’s decision to disinvite him, saying in a statement to CNBC, “After being contacted several months ago and with seven weeks of continual requests for this event, I accepted The New [Yorker’s] invitation with no thought of an honorarium.”

“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 added.

It was not clear Monday whether those who withdrew from the festival would reverse their decisions after Bannon was disinvited.

Apatow wrote on Twitter that Remnick’s decision to disinvite Bannon was “very good news.”

“There is no reason to have a hateful person at this festival. Thank you @NewYorker for listening and making an adjustment,” he wrote.

Earlier Monday, Remnick told The New York Times that he intended to ask Bannon difficult questions and engage “in a serious and even combative conversation.”

“The audience itself, by its presence, puts a certain pressure on a conversation that an interview alone doesn’t do,” he told the Times. “You can’t jump on and off the record.”

The New Yorker Festival will be held Oct. 5-7 in New York City. Political figures scheduled to speak include former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and David Hogg, the Parkland, Fla., shooting survivor who has become an outspoken gun control activist.

Updated: 9:35 p.m.

Tags Sally Yates Steve Bannon
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