New Yorker Festival Drops Steve Bannon From Speaker Lineup Amid Backlash

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Steve Bannon

The news comes after Judd Apatow, Jim Carrey, Patton Oswalt and John Mulaney all tweeted that they were canceling their scheduled appearances at the event.

After news that Steve Bannon will be a featured speaker at the upcoming New Yorker Festival drew sharp criticism from numerous bold-faced names, the fest has dropped Bannon as a speaker.

The news came after several famous faces, including Judd Apatow, Jim Carrey, Patton Oswalt and John Mulaney, all tweeted that they were canceling their scheduled appearances at the event.

The New Yorker tweeted late Monday that Bannon had been dropped from the lineup and that it was New Yorker editor David Remnick's decision.

Remnick put out a statement Monday that he had decided to drop Bannon from the speaker lineup.

"I don’t want well-meaning readers and staff members to think that I’ve ignored their concerns," he said. "I’ve thought this through and talked to colleagues — and I’ve re-considered. I’ve changed my mind. There is a better way to do this. Our writers have interviewed Steve Bannon for The New Yorker before, and if the opportunity presents itself I’ll interview him in a more traditionally journalistic setting as we first discussed, and not on stage."

He also explained his rationale for originally including Bannon on the lineup.

"The main argument for not engaging someone like Bannon is that we are giving him a platform and that he will use it, unfiltered, to propel further the 'ideas' of white nationalism, racism, anti-Semitism and illiberalism," he said. "But to interview Bannon is not to endorse him. 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."

Later Monday evening, Bannon lashed out at Remnick, calling him "gutless" for rescinding the invitation.

"The reason for my acceptance was simple: I would be facing one of the most fearless journalists of his generation," Bannon said in a statement to The New York Times.

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

Event organizers announced the lineup of speakers early Monday, including Apatow, Mulaney, John Krasinski, Jack Antonoff, Oswalt, Christine Baranski, Zadie Smith, Carrey, Jimmy Fallon and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

But the speaker drawing the most attention on social media was Bannon, the controversial former White House chief strategist who served as executive chairman of the right-leaning Breitbart News before joining Donald Trump's campaign as chief executive in August 2016. He exited his White House position a year later.

Bannon was set to take part in a talk with Remnick titled "The Ideology of Trumpism" on Oct. 5, the first day of the three-day New Yorker Festival.

The news was met with criticism on social media from many famous faces, including Hollywood A-listers like Apatow and Ava DuVernay and The New Yorker's own staff.

For his part, Remnick earlier 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."

Still, TV and movie producer Aditya Sood noted that Bannon was previously featured on the festival's main page but had since been removed.

Later Monday, Oswalt, Apatow, Carrey and Mulaney tweeted separately that they were going to pull out of their planned appearances.

Not long after the New Yorker said it was dropping Bannon, Fallon also tweeted that he was pulling out.

Antonoff, another scheduled speaker, tweeted that he didn't know Bannon was going to be included and "would have appreciated" a head's up.

A rep for Oswalt tells The Hollywood Reporter that he hasn't been rebooked since backing out, while Apatow's rep confirms that he will attend now that Bannon is no longer participating in the festival. THR has also reached out to reps for Mulaney, Carrey and Fallon.

Read some of the other criticism below.

Sept. 3, 2:47 p.m. Added Apatow and Mulaney's statements that they were pulling out of the event.

Sept. 3, 3:12 p.m. Added Carrey's statement that he is pulling out of the event.

Sept. 3, 3:26 p.m. Added Oswalt's statement that he is pulling out of the event.

Sept. 3, 3:36 p.m. Added that the New Yorker Festival was dropping Bannon from the event.

Sept. 3, 6:43 p.m. Added Bannon's statement to The New York Times

Sept. 4, 11:43 a.m. Added statements to THR from Oswalt and Apatow's reps.