New Yorker Festival Revolt After Steve Bannon Announced As Headliner

Speakers Patton Oswalt, Judd Apatow and Jack Antonoff are among those pulling out.

UPDATE: The New Yorker has already axed Steve Bannon from the festival, with editor David Remnick saying he "reconsidered" the decision after both staff and social media expressed concern.

"I've changed my mind. There is a better way to do this."

Notably, Remnick did not apologise, nor did he address the more than half a dozen high profile speakers publicly threatening to pull out.

Instead, he offered a defense of the decision.

"The point of an interview, a rigorous interview, particularly in a case like this, is to put pressure on the views of a person being questioned," he said.

"There's no illusion here. It's obvious that no matter how tough the questioning, Bannon is not going to burst into tears and change his view of the world. He believes he is right, and that his ideological opponents are mere 'snowflakes'."

He also rejected the argument often peddled by alt-right provocateurs that declining them a platform is tantamount to denying them free speech.

"This isn't a First Amendment question: it's a question of putting pressure on a set of arguments and prejudices that have influenced our politics and a President still in office," he said.

Read his full statement below.


High profile speakers are pulling out of the New Yorker festival after Steve Bannon was announced as a surprise headliner.

Bannon, the former Donald Trump strategist, Breitbart founder, and self-described economic nationalist, is widely criticsed as being anti-Semetic, a white nationalist, and as bringing the alt-right view into the mainstream discourse.

He was announced as the surprise headliner of the prestigious New Yorker festival one week before tickets went on sale, to be interviewed by former New Yorker editor David Remnick about "the ideology of Trumpism".

Steve Bannon was fired by Donald Trump after 17 months of working for him, from the campaign to the White House. Photo: Getty.

Now, other speakers scheduled to give talks at the festival are pulling out, while others are cancelling their New Yorker subscriptions.

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That list includes host Jimmy Fallon, comedian and producer Judd Apatow, comedian Patton Oswalt, musician Jack Antonoff, actor John Mulaney and actor Jim Carrey.

"I'm out," said Mulaney. "I genuinely support public intellectual debate, and have paid to see people speak with whom I strongly disagree. 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."

"I will not take part in an event that normalises hate," tweeted Apatow. "I hope the New Yorker will do the right thing and cancel the Steve Bannon event. Maybe they should read their own reporting about his ideology."

Patton Oswalt told the New Yorker to "see if Milo Yiannopoulos is free", while Antonoff revealed that he was not told he would be sharing a lineup with Bannon prior to agreeing to attend.

"For anyone who wonders what normalisation of bigotry looks like, please look no further than Steve Bannon being invited by both The Economist and New Yorker to their respective events in NYC a few weeks apart," tweeted Chelsea Clinton.

Australian journalist Leigh Sales has taken a different approach, arguing that it's a "push-back against free speech and the lack of willingness to hear and debate ideas that differ from one's own."

It comes one day after Bannon was interviewed by Four Corner's Sarah Ferguson, in a grilling piece that was as applauded for Ferguson's skill as it was criticised for giving Bannon a platform.

The hour-long interview covered Australia's relationship with China, former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, America's working class, the rise of the alt-right, and of course, US President Donald Trump.

Ferguson -- one of Australia's premier interviewers -- was at the height of her game, holding Bannon to account and keeping up with the quick-paced interview.

But there's always a question of value in interviewing hateful ideologues in the first place, where 'holding them to account' does little more than provide a platform to spread their views.