After internet outrage, New Yorker disinvites Steve Bannon from festival

Donald Trump's former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, has been disinvited from the New Yorker Festival after a high-profile backlash over his appearance.

Patton Owalt also dropped out and suggested that the New Yorker replace him with right-wing troll Milo Yiannopoulos.

Bannon is scheduled to appear September 15 at The Economist's "Open Future" festival in New York City.

Following the backlash, the New Yorker's editor-in-chief released a lengthy statement where he explained why he had initially asked Mr Bannon to the NY festival, and then withdrawn the invitation. But less than 12 hours after announcing Bannon as a headliner for the October 5-7 festival, Remnick canceled his plan to interview Bannon.

"Bannon? And me? On the same program?" he wrote. "The audience itself, by its presence, puts a certain pressure on a conversation that an interview alone doesn't do". But this isn't James Baldwin versus William F. Buckley. I've thought this through and talked to colleagues - and I've re-considered.

He then said concern from others about the setting of the interview, which he was due to conduct on-stage, had made him change his mind.

Bannon scolded the New Yorker's backtrack and expressed his disappointment. "I can not wrap my mind around this Bannon thing", she said on Twitter. The New Yorker's editor, David Remnick, was originally slated to interview Mr. Bannon onstage. "We asked him to take part because his populist nationalism is of grave outcome in today's politics". "This is PT Barnum level horseshit", he wrote calling Bannon an "amateur night sonofabitch".

Not really. Now, white nationalists get to play their favorite game, portraying Bannon as a victim of PC culture and the mainstream media.

The announcement did not go over well.

"Remnick also argued that interviewing Bannon is not endorsing him and his "'ideas' of white nationalism, racism, antisemitism and illiberalism". It's obvious that no matter how tough the questioning, Bannon is not going to burst into tears and change his views of the world. This is not true: At least some on the left are willing to engage with conservative thinkers, whereas you would never see, say, Bernie Sanders (or even David Remnick) invited to CPAC. Pulitzer Prize winning journalist David Remnick told the New York Times he meant to confront the man with tough questions and expected that the hostile audience would help put pressure on the guest.

In the end, though, Remnick said the outcry led him to conclude there were better ways to engage with Bannon - who would have been paid an honorarium and other fees for taking part in the festival.

  • Jacqueline Ellis