Former White House adviser Steve Bannon has been dropped from the roster of speakers at the upcoming New Yorker Festival after a number of high-profile celebs who had also been booked announced plans to drop out in protest.
Following the revelation that the publisher of right-wing Breitbart News would be headlining the prestigious event, previously scheduled speakers Jim Carrey, Judd Apatow, Fun./Bleachers frontman Jack Antonoff and standup comics John Mulaney and Patton Oswalt all announced they would withdraw if Bannon remained on the bill.
In a series of tweets, Antonoff said he could not be attached to the event due to the “normalization of white supremacy.”
Oswalt followed suit, jokingly asking if another controversial right-winger would be available to take his place.
Apatow, director of such hit comedies as “Trainwreck” and “Bridesmaids”, declared he “will not take part in an event that normalizes hate.”
Mulaney likewise threatened to walk, noting that while he appreciates a serious debate, Bannon’s discourse is more akin to “PT Barnum level horses**t.”
Carrey, whose Twitter feed makes his distaste for the Trump administration crystal clear, also said he was bailing due to Bannon:
Faced with all these A-list departures, festival organizers quickly decided to do an about-face, announcing that Bannon would no longer be invited to speak.
New Yorker editor David Remnick dropped the news in a statement on Twitter.
“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 wrote.
Remnick also outlined why Bannon was included in the first place. “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 wrote. “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.”