Donald Trump’s former chief strategist has called New Yorker editor David Remnick’s decision to drop him from headlining this year’s New Yorker Festival in October “gutless.” In a statement to the New York Times, Bannon said:
“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.”
Bannon’s invitation to speak–and his subsequent dis-invitation–happened quickly. On Monday Remnick announced Bannon would be headlining at the New Yorker Festival, which runs from October 5-7. Announcing Bannon’s invite, Remnick told the New York Times:
“I have every intention of asking him difficult questions and engaging 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. You can’t jump on and off the record.”
Yet within hours the decision to give Bannon a platform was met with swift rebuke from other New Yorker Festival headliners including John Mulaney, Judd Apatow, Jack Antonoff, and Jim Carrey. It followed with growing condemnation from other guests and readers.
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.
— Jim Carrey (@JimCarrey) September 3, 2018
By the end of the day, the New Yorker had rescinded Bannon’s invite, telling the Times:
“The reaction on social media was critical, and a lot of the dismay and anger was directed at me and my decision to engage him. Some members of the staff, too, reached out to say that they objected to the invitation, particularly the forum of the festival. I don’t want well-meaning readers and staff members to think that I’ve ignored their concerns.”
It’s obvious how Bannon could use this turn of events to feed the narrative that the “elites” are against “regular folk” by disinviting him, but if so then it should be asked why Bannon agreed to be a headline speaker at one of the most elite festivals in the country in the first place.