UPDATE: 6:40 p.m. — The New Yorker’s editor, David Remnick, released a statement announcing that Steve Bannon would no longer appear at the festival.
The New Yorker incited anger on Monday after it was announced that Steve Bannon would be headlining the magazine’s October festival.
The New Yorker Festival, in its 19th year, is known for giving a platform to prominent figures across the political, literary and art worlds. This year’s event will feature an appearance by former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, The New York Times reported Monday.
The magazine’s editor, David Remnick, defended the choice to add Bannon to the festival lineup by saying the event wouldn’t allow Bannon to “jump on and off the record.”
“I have every intention of asking him difficult questions and engaging in a serious and even combative conversation,” Remnick told the Times in a phone interview. “The audience itself, by its presence, puts a certain pressure on a conversation that an interview alone doesn’t do.”
Bannon left the White House in August 2017, not long after white nationalists incited violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia. After his work for President Donald Trump, Bannon focused his attention on getting Europe’s far-right parties more power in government positions.
During a speech in March at a party congress of France’s far-right National Front in Lille, he told attendees to consider being called racist “a badge of honor.”
Critics began voicing their anger on social media despite Remnick’s comments, saying the magazine was giving Bannon a platform for his dangerous and hateful rhetoric.
Celebrities scheduled to appear at the festival — such as comedians Judd Apatow, John Mulaney and musician Jack Antonoff — threatened to pull out of the event if Bannon was given a platform. Apatow tweeted that he would not take part in an event “that normalizes hate.”
“I’m out. I genuinely support public intellectual debate, and have paid to see people speak with whom I strongly disagree,” Mulaney posted on Twitter. “But this isn’t James Baldwin vs William F Buckley. This is PT Barnum level horseshit. And it was announced on a weekend just before tix went on sale.”
Kathyrn Schulz, a Pulitzer Prize–winning columnist with The New Yorker, denounced her employer’s decision on Twitter and encouraged readers to express their feelings to Remnick.
This story has been updated with responses from New Yorker columnist Kathryn Schulz, festival speakers who threatened to cancel and David Remnick’s decision to disinvite Steve Bannon.