Steve Bannon called The New Yorker’s top editor David Remnick “gutless” for disinviting him to appear at the magazine’s annual politics, art and media festival on Monday after a number of celebrity speakers pulled out over this scheduled appearance.
“After being contacted several months ago and with seven weeks of continual requests for this event, I accepted The New Yorker’s invitation with no thought of an honorarium,” Bannon said in a statement to The New York Times.
“The reason for my acceptance was simple: I would be facing one of the most fearless journalists of his generation,” the former chief strategist in the Trump White House said. “In what I would call a defining moment, David Remnick showed he was gutless when confronted by the howling online mob.”
On Sunday morning, Remnick announced that Bannon, the former executive chairman of Breitbart News turned Trump campaign adviser, would be headlining this fall’s The New Yorker Festival.
“I have every intention of asking him difficult questions and engaging in a serious and even combative conversation,” Remnick told the New York Times. “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.”
Reaction came swiftly, with a number of celebrities pulling out of speaking at the three-day event. Several, including Jim Carrey and Judd Apatow, hinted at Bannon’s embrace of nationalism as the reason.
Shortly thereafter, Remnick issued a memo to his staff, saying that he had changed his mind and decided to drop Bannon from the speakers list.
“I don’t want well-meaning readers and staff members to think that I’ve ignored their concerns,” Remnick wrote. “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.”