An annual festival organized by the prestigious New Yorker magazine has disinvited a headlining guest, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, after numerous panelists announced they would drop out if he remained.
The magazine’s editor-in-chief David Remnick, who would have interviewed the architect of President Donald Trump’s nationalist-populist campaign, announced the reversal on Twitter on Monday just hours after the lineup was made public and sparked a major backlash.
“I don’t want well-meaning readers and staff members to think that I’ve ignored their concerns,” wrote Remnick. “I’ve thought this through and talked to colleagues — and I’ve re-considered. I’ve changed my mind.”
He added that the magazine had interviewed Bannon before and would do so again if the opportunity arose “in a more traditionally journalistic setting” rather than on stage.
Remnick’s decision 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.”
“Bannon? And me? On the same program? Could never happen,” added actor Jim Carrey. John Mulaney, Patton Oswalt and Bo Burnham were also among those who had threatened a boycott.
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.
The New Yorker Festival’s 19th edition will take place from October 5-7 and will include anti-gun activist David Hogg, actress Emily Blunt and writers Haruki Murakami and Zadie Smith.