Bannon Is Out at The New Yorker Festival, but Liberals Are Torn


With its intramural outrage and social media sniping, the episode mirrored broader debates that have roiled liberals since Mr. Trump’s stunning rise. At college campuses, speakers like the conservative author Charles Murray have been shouted down by audience members. “De-platforming,” the practice of stymieing public appearances by ideological opponents, has been endorsed by some on the left as a more effective tactic than debate.

And political journalists have faced questions about the wisdom of giving a venue to divisive figures like Mr. Bannon, even as incendiary, Breitbart-style views have been embraced by a significant portion of Americans.

“I’m not going to congratulate the New Yorker for rescinding an invitation that should have never been offered or for believing there was valuable intellectual insight to be gained from a polite conversation w/ a fascist,” the author Roxane Gay, who is a contributing opinion writer to The New York Times, wrote on Twitter.

The uproar over the festival was a reminder of The New Yorker’s unique place in the media ecosystem. Mr. Bannon appeared at a Financial Times forum in March, and he is scheduled to speak at an event sponsored by The Economist this month; both attracted relatively little comment.

The Economist, which had already publicized Mr. Bannon’s appearance, issued a statement on Tuesday saying its invitation would stand. “The future of open societies will not be secured by like-minded people speaking to each other in an echo chamber, but by subjecting ideas and individuals from all sides to rigorous questioning and debate,” the magazine’s editor, Zanny Minton Beddoes, wrote. She noted that Mr. Bannon had become an influential figure on the European right.

Readers of The New Yorker, though, and particularly the die-hards who attend the annual event, feel an attachment to the magazine and its cosmopolitan values. Mr. Remnick, in a note to his staff, wrote that the festival’s unique atmosphere was a factor in why he had changed his mind.

“There is a better way to do this,” he wrote. “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.”


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