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Steve Bannon disinvited from New Yorker Festival after backlash

In a statement, editor David Remnick said he would interview Bannon in "a more traditionally journalistic setting" in the future.
Steve Bannon in Prague on May 22, 2018.Sean Gallup / Getty Images file

Steve Bannon, the former adviser to President Donald Trump who was scheduled to headline the New Yorker Festival next month, was disinvited from the event on Monday after widespread criticism.

In a statement, editor David Remnick said he would interview Bannon in "a more traditionally journalistic setting" in the future.

The decision came after high-profile festival guests, including movie director Judd Apatow and comedian John Mulaney, said they planned to drop out if Bannon remained on the slate. Author and professor Roxane Gay said she withdrew an essay she was writing for the magazine over his appearance, which was announced Monday.

“I will not take part in an event that normalizes hate,” Apatow tweeted. “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.”

Soon after, actor Jim Carrey tweeted, "Bannon? And me? On the same program? Could never happen."

Earlier, New Yorker staff writer Kathryn Schulz said she was “beyond appalled” by the magazine's decision to include Bannon.

“I have already made that very clear to David Remnick,” she wrote on Twitter. “You can, too.”

Remnick said in the statement that he had planned to conduct a rigorous interview with Bannon, who is also the former chairman of the conservative site Breitbart News, on issues of white nationalism, racism, anti-Semitism and illiberalism.

"To interview Bannon is not to endorse him," Remnick said. "By conducting an interview with one of Trumpism’s leading creators and organizers, we are hardly pulling him out of obscurity. Ahead of the mid-term elections and with 2020 in sight, we’d be taking the opportunity to question someone who helped assemble Trumpism."

But, Remnick added, he’d heard from colleagues and readers that the festival, which features prominent musicians, filmmakers, artists and others, wasn’t the proper venue to conduct such an interview.

“I don’t want well-meaning readers and staff members to think that I’ve ignored their concerns,” Remnick wrote. “I’ve thought this through and talked to colleagues — and I’ve re-considered. I’ve changed my mind."

Bannon said in a statement Monday that had had accepted Remnick's invitation because he wanted to face "one of the most fearless journalists of his generation."

"In what I would call a defining moment," Bannon said, "David Remnick showed he was gutless when confronted by the howling online mob.”