On Monday, Stephen Bannon was announced as one of the headliners at this year's New Yorker Festival, and a few hours later, he was disinvited after a number of participants dropped out of the festival. New Yorker editor David Remnick announced his decision to reverse course in an email to staff Monday evening. "The reaction on social media was critical and a lot of the dismay and anger was directed at me and my decision to engage him," Remnick said. "Some members of the staff, too, reached out to say that they objected to the invitation, particularly the forum of the festival."
Bannon, who was President Trump's campaign chairman and White House chief strategist after heading up Breitbart and Cambridge Analytica, responded with a mixture of flattery and insult. "The reason for my acceptance was simple: I would be facing one of the most fearless journalists of his generation," Remnick, he explained in a statement. "In what I would call a defining moment, David Remnick showed he was gutless when confronted by the howling online mob." In his note to his staff, Remnick said "there is a better way to do this" with Bannon and "if the opportunity presents itself I'll interview him in a more traditionally journalistic setting as we first discussed, and not on stage."
Comedian John Mulaney was one of the first guests to drop out. "I genuinely support public intellectual debate, and have paid to see people speak with whom I strongly disagree," he wrote on Twitter. "But this isn't James Baldwin vs. William F Buckley." Judd Apatow, Jim Carrey, Bleachers frontman Jack Antonoff, and Patton Oswalt also said they would not share a festival with Bannon, and Jimmy Fallon — who probably did not spend Labor Day glued to his phone, wisely — tweeted that he was out of the festival after Remnick's disinvitation memo had already become public.