The New Yorker withdraws Steve Bannon’s invitation to their fancy festival


Before the Labor Day holiday, we actually got a promotional email from the organizers of the Economist’s Open Future Festival. The media advisory email’s first line was this: “Speakers include: AMBER HEARD, SUSAN HERMAN (President, ACLU), STEVE BANNON and DAVID MILIBAND (President, IRC).” Wow, Amber Heard AND Steve Bannon, what a festival. As it turns out, Steve Bannon is all about peddling his Nazi nonsense at fancy New York festivals: he also signed on to do some kind of Q&A session at The New Yorker’s fall festival. As soon as his name was announced, celebrities and literary figures announced that they would be pulling out unless Bannon’s invitation was rescinded:

The controversy went on for hours before David Remnick issued a statement and formally withdrew Bannon’s invitation:

Bannon reacted by saying, in part: “I accepted The New Yorker’s invitation with no thought of an honorarium. The reason for my acceptance was simple: I would be facing one of the most fearless journalists of his generation. In what I would call a defining moment, David Remnick showed he was gutless when confronted by the howling online mob.”

The thing is, if I’m playing devil’s advocate and doing some kind of stupid point-counterpoint with myself, I understand why someone like David Remnick should interview and expose Bannon in front of an audience. The problem is that I don’t trust Remick to do so, because that’s been a consistent problem with the so-called “liberal” media outlets in the age of Trump: they are bizarrely fascinated by the frightening fascists in their midst, and they treat those fascists like harmless oddities to be studied and patronized. Which has the effect of normalizing people like Bannon and making him seem like his thoughts have any kind of validity or truth. Malcolm Gladwell was an example of that “elite” way of intellectualizing fascism:

But the audience doesn’t need to be exposed to fascism and white supremacy? We’re already being exposed to it every day. There are still brown children in cages. American citizens are having their passports confiscated and they’re being thrown in detention centers. Neo-Nazis are marching in American cities and killing people. Why normalize it to the point where we act like these people have a valid point of view? Also, to bring it back to opening paragraph: someone should tell Amber Heard that she needs to pull out of The Economist’s Open Future festival too, because I think Bannon is still invited to that one.


Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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57 Responses to “The New Yorker withdraws Steve Bannon’s invitation to their fancy festival”

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  1. STRIPE says:

    It infuriates me how the media just keeps letting themselves be played by Bannon and his ilk. They have interest in a real discussion. Either they show up and troll, or they get disinvited and get to play victim.

    Stop inviting him. Period.

    • Esmom says:

      Yes, and not only does Bannon get to play victim, the deplorables seize it with everything they’ve got. Not inviting him is truly the only solution. Pretend he doesn’t even exist.

      I’m disappointed in Gladwell.

    • Elkie says:

      Bannon lost 99% of his credibility the exact second he failed to get a Republican elected in ALABAMA, and the rest when he crawled on hand and knees, crying and begging, for Trump to take him back after the publication of Fire & Fury.

      Why would anyone waste their time with this proven loser?

    • Catherine says:

      Just my opinion and I’m cynical and beat down these days, but I think New Yorker invited him for precisely this: MONEY and headlines. They did it with purpose and clarity of consequences. We all know the NYer, they pride themselves in fact checking and clear, clean reporting. They don’t get hoodwinked, tricked, or played. They go out of their way to be self-aware, purposeful. And now they have sold their integrity, just like 💯 of press on all sides. Why? The Trump money is too tempting, print mags need money. Ratings, subscriptions, MONEY, controversy to get more MONEY. FOURTH ESTATE IS SELLING OUT FOR MONEY. It’s all a big MONEY GRAB. Congress, NRA, New Yorker, NYTimes.

      It would be incredible if one senator, or publisher, or news agency would act like a human being. But. Naw. That Trump Bump is too sweet

      • Melly says:

        I would agree with you if they had any strategy to deal with the Bannon backlash. You KNOW liberal & rational people are going to be upset by Bannon being invited, but they had NO plan on how to deal with that so they just caved to pressure.

      • Fluffy Princess says:

        @Catherine – Yes, 100000000%, yes! I have been railing about this since the election. “The fourth estate is selling out for money” and “The Trump Bump is too sweet.” And because of that we sit here with that orange Dotard in the White House. *SMDH*

      • Heather says:

        I’m far more cynical. I think they invited him with every intention of dis-inviting him after they got a bunch of free publicity. Shrug. I’m over all sides of the media.

      • Dee Kay says:

        @Catherine: Lordy, I hope what you are saying isn’t true, but I have a sinking feeling that you’re right. I used to wonder WTF happened to the New York Times, is someone in Trump’s team blackmailing them or offering them mega-access or what, but what you point out is that there doesn’t need to be any hidden or secret reason why the NY Times gives Trump so much favorable coverage. It is just a money grab, pure and simple. The press never figured out how to replace the revenues they lost in the transition to digital, and now they’ll just cover whatever gets subscriptions and clicks. Yikes. Without a strong fourth estate, we are doomed.

    • LahdidahBaby says:

      Every. Word. Kaiser. Wrote.

      Why the hell did they invite him anyway?!?

      We’re exposed to neo-fascism every day now, courtesy of the so-called president, Donald F. Trump.

      Yes, I know his middle name is John. Draw your own conclusions.

  2. Rapunzel says:

    I just had an argument with somebody about this a few days ago. I’m sick and tired of people not standing up for what’s right. Yes folks are entitled to their opinions but when your opinion is just flat out evil you shouldn’t be allowed to express it. Freedom of speech is curtailed in situations like yelling fire in a crowded theater so why do we allow people to poison others’ minds with hate and lies?

    • Who ARE These People? says:

      Also, this had nothing to do with Bannon’s protected freedom of speech. This was a private, not a government, function. The government is not censoring him. He can spout all the racist, fascist garbage he wants but no one is required to give him a platform or legitimacy. The New Yorker almost gave him both. And the big problem is that the US government also gave him both.

    • LahdidahBaby says:

      There ya go, Rapunzel. I agree completely.

      Would we allow Hitler to speak?

      Bannon is pretty much the same guy. He was part of the movement to “relocate” Black Americans *back* to Africa. Most of their families have been here longer than Bannon’s, courtesy of slavery.

  3. Renee2 says:

    Why is Amber Heard even invited??? I can’t even comment on the fact that Steve Bannon was invited.

    • Rescue Cat says:

      Why do you think she shouldn’t be?

      • Trashaddict says:

        I’m wondering what she would have to be saying on the economy? If it’s the economist’s open future? If it was a film festival, yeah, I would get it.
        Honestly I thought maybe this was some kind of internet hoax.

    • Darla says:

      I don’t think Amber Heard is the problem.

    • Renee2 says:

      @Rescuecat and Darla,

      You are both right. It’s not as though the other speakers are esteemed and I know she’s not the problem, I just meant that it hurt my chest to contemplate dealing with the fact that Steve Bannon was invited at all so I thought I’d move in to the next issue.

      • Darla says:

        Oh I see. Well I was going to say that I can guarantee you there’s a less talented man attending, lol. I don’t really know much about her and have never seen her in anything. I am assuming she’s promoting Aquaman, which I will see, and can’t even wait to see! so I will maybe have a feel for her talent level after that.

    • Mumbles says:

      That was a different festival but I agree, I’m at a loss at what topic she’d say anything I’d be interested in hearing.

      • Algernon says:

        Domestic violence maybe? How the media mobilizes against women in order to preserve the reputation of men? Animal rights? Amber Heard is a so-so actress but in interviews she comes across as quite intelligent. I would be willing to listen to her speak on any of the above topics.

    • Snowflake says:

      I agree with you. I saw her name and thought huh? But i do believe she was abused by Depp. But why is she speaking? Just me, but i wouldn’t be thinking amber heard is there, I’ve got to go.

  4. KNy says:

    I HATE how privileged organizations cater to the extreme right because they don’t want to get called out. This is just like The Atlantic hiring Kevin Williamson (and then firing him because everyone was like, “Helllllllllll nooooooo”) or the NY Times doing story after story about racist whites or poor racist whites or literal actual Nazis living in America. ENOUGH. Have the journalistic integrity to recognize despicable forms of life and realize that giving them space to continue to air their white privilege grievances is NOT constructive.

    • Mumbles says:

      The writer Caitlin Moran put it well in her book How to Build a Girl – it is the height of privilege to view politics as a game, or a hobby, when for many people it is literally a question of life or death. And that’s what these Beltway and NY insider types have – the privilege to natter away on who’s in, who’s out, like it’s a parlor game. If Bannon’s ideal vision of this country were to come true, Remnick and his ilk would have the means and the connections to leave unscathed. That’s why talking heads on cable news drive me nuts…regardless of who’s in or out of office, these hacks have a steady stream of income from lobbying, consulting, appearing on TV, etc.

      A propos to nothing, the New Yorker Festival sounds like a bobo nightmare. I can’t fathom who would pay $59 to hear Jimmy Fallon speak, and I wouldn’t want to spend any time with them.

  5. grabbyhands says:

    Well, Malcolm Gladwell is disappointing.

    At best, the New Yorker was among the still way too many that are willfully ignorant about Bannon and his ilk. He trades in xenophobic hate and that is it. He has zero interest in doing anything but spreading his disease, and that so many people still think if they can just sit him down and ask the “hard questions” that somehow he’ll change or they’ll win is pathetic and embarrassing.

    At worst, they are just another publication softballing to these Nazis because they either tacitly agree with the standpoint or they’re too cowardly to not try and curry favor with the this loathsome faction of citizens.

    Either way, they come off looking horrible and no amount of apology is going to cover it, Bannon played them just like he’s played everyone else and you can bet that he knew exactly what was going to happen when he accepted the invitation. He was going to win either way.

    • They think they are being provocative, edgy. I love reading about malcontents as much as the next person (eg, Christopher Hitchens) but Bannon is a full on menace who uses his cozying up, soft spoken seduction on interviewers who never can pin him down on his hideous views.

      He repulsive in every way.

      • Sansa says:

        I watch too many Hitch Videos on YouTube so I appreciate your comments about him. He was a brilliant speaker although very out there on certain issues (the Clintons etc), So was interested when I read about Bannon being included in this venue with the New Yorkers saying they were going to be hard on him. All of the Trump ilk can barely get a sentence out that isn’t a blatant lie, and would love to see someone take Bannon down…guess that’s not happening. Having someone take him down in a very intelligent public. Forum seems like it has more value then just banning him. Guess that’s not the popular view .

    • Esmom says:

      The New Yorker knows full well what Bannon is about. In fact it was one of their articles, back in 2015 or 2016, that outlined just how despicable he is. I remember being deeply disturbed and frightened after reading it. I honestly don’t know why they thought he deserved a seat at the table.

    • Who ARE these people? says:

      Gladwell is a rightwing trained corporate shill
      who worked for Big Tobacco, Pharma and Banks. His social science “reporting” has been found to be weak and misleading. Somehow he’s got away with being a bit of a fraud himself and his statement on Bannon is disingenuous.

  6. Repulsive and completely inept. They tried this with that hideous Milo Yiannopolous too.

    I can not understand why the media is fascinated with this con man bigot. Is it because he uses big words no matter how gratuitously? Listening to him sends you into a stupor because he breathlessly jumps from one pointless idea to another.

    Shame on you, David Remick.

  7. hindulovegod says:

    The writer Celeste Ng said it better than I ever could in her response to Gladwell: “It might be an ‘idea’ to you and to the organizers, but it’s actual violence and dehumanization to a lot of the rest of us.” Also, her book Little Fires Everywhere is great and you should read it!

  8. Mophita789 says:

    So Jimmy Fallon won’t attend something where Steve Bannon will be, he’ll just buddy up to Trump on his TV show. Nope. Nope. Nope. Didn’t forget that one Jimmy.

  9. Mia4s says:

    With no due respect to Malcolm Gladwell, we already decided to try never to expose people to ideas like the ones Bannon has. When? Oh sometime between the years 1939 and 1945.

    • KNy says:

      Exactly. We know all we need to know about Bannon from the fact that he’s a Nazi. There’s no nuance there. It’s awful and he should not get a platform.

  10. Jenns says:

    Can the media stop acting like Bannon is some evil genius? He’s not and he never was. He joins the list of the other Trump losers who were fired and can’t find anything else to do. And what do people expect to happen when he’s interview? We already know he’s a racist. And he’s never going to admit to being wrong.

    Stop trying to get these people to see their wrongdoings. It’s never going to happen.

    • Jen says:

      Couldn’t agree more. We know what he stands for and what he believes. What is the platform for…headlines? Shock value? Stop giving this hate speech any perceived merit and stop giving Trump’s castoffs an excuse to scream about the persecution of the right.

      He’s no longer a part of the administration, so this isn’t about current events or refusing to “hide from it.” It’s unnecessary.

    • notasugarhere says:

      He is slick in his talk and answers. When interviewed, the interviewers always ends up on the losing end of trying to show how awful Bannon is. That’s why he and his extremist views are gaining traction in Europe as well.

  11. Rescue Cat says:

    Really looking forward to the midterms in November. I think 2018 will be defined by the result.

    • Who ARE these people? says:

      Our lives and those of our descendents will be defined by the result.

    • notasugarhere says:

      The Republican strategists aren’t worried; polls had Clinton winning and look what happened. Two months to go, this is no time to be complacent.

      • Who ARE These People? says:

        Cheating and gerrymandering (which is cheating) overcame the polls…in 3 key swing districts. Only overwhelming turnout and votes for any and all Democrats can overcome the cheating.

      • notasugarhere says:

        Yes but the Dems have to take a huge number of seats to take control, and Repubs aren’t worried about most of those seats. See the ongoing support for Drumpf from the base and 99 percent of Republicans kowtowing and caving to him and the base.

  12. Frida_K says:

    This is pathetic. And just because the New Yorker decided that they are not going to give him a front and center slot any longer doesn’t absolve them. If I were a participant in this function who threatened to boycott, I wouldn’t participate in this function now that they disinvited him. They’d be cancelled and remain cancelled.

    Gosh, and besides…maybe they can get some real luminaries to take his place. For instance, a panel with Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein to speak about harassment in the workplace. To make it fair and have both men and women’s voices, they could invite Asia Argento.

    No sense in not letting everyone have a chance to talk, right?

  13. Lindy says:

    Bannon himself outlined his strategy of weaponizing liberal media in a longform piece in I think it was the Atlantic several months before the 2016 election! Have they not yet figured out that he does this? Have they not yet realized that lending legitimacy to his views will never ever ever be the right decision? As for Gladwell, he’s basically a corporate shill popularizing diluted and oversimplified social science. We don’t live in a world where we can politely disagree with those on the other side of the aisle–that’s a quaint notion that depends on a robust, healthy democracy grounded in reason and good faith. Guess who openly says he wants to dismantle democracy? Oh, right, that would be Bannon.

    We on the left keep inviting thugs to our pleasant cocktail parties and then feel shocked that they show up with assault rifles.

  14. neocleo says:

    I wish I would never have to see that man’s rotting face for the rest of my life. What a mirror it is into his soul.

    • Jan says:

      To me he always looks like a glue sniffer who lives under a bridge. Given his views, why anyone would give him the time of day is beyond me. He is evil incarnate.

  15. hadenough says:

    Someone in twitter said it best…”There’s nothing new in racism. What more would I have to learn about racism?”

    SB doesn’t have “ideas.” He has hate and bigotry, which are not new or interesting.

  16. hogtowngooner says:

    I don’t understand why people keep falling for this alt-right strategy of getting invited to speak at a conference or a campus (ie, a platform to degrade the media, liberals, women, immigrants etc), then get un-invited and throw a hissy fit about losing their right to free speech. This is what they do. Milo and Bannon have literally outlined this.

    They can’t survive on their own disgusting ideas and made-up “facts”, so they have to portray themselves as victims of political correctness instead. It folds neatly into their knuckle-dragging fans’ notion of white persecution. Nothing changes.

  17. adastraperaspera says:

    Bannon’s “ideas” are not up for debate or discussion, just like we no longer debate slavery. Philosopher Karl Popper called this “the paradox of tolerance”:

    ” Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. ”
    ~Karl Popper, The Open Society, 1945

  18. Derriere says:

    Why am I not surprised?

    White liberals gonna white. It’s inevitable that cis white men (and the choose me women) make these boneheaded decisions. They aren’t at risk. All ideas can be accepted, debated and discussed because…in the end…does it really matter for them? Once someone starts messing with their paycheck or personal reputation, yes! Which is why this idea got all the way through marketing with the OK. Everyone’s jobs were safe until celebrities and academics started abandoning ship…Anyone losing their job? Maybe not…a two-page apology essay should suffice. *sigh*

    When will this end? We don’t want their racist, fascist, white supremacist, Nazi propaganda on our media outlets. We don’t need to have this debate. Let them have it in the cesspool that is Fox News. They are happy there! Let them stay.

  19. why? says:

    This is the problem with the press. They are always trying to give the Dotard supporters, racists, and bots a voice. What about giving a voice to the kids locked in cages, the 1-4 year olds who have gone before a judge to defend themselves, the people of Puerto Rico and Flint, the Parkland and MFOL kids, DACA, and those impacted by the military and Muslim bans? Apart of the reason the Dotard has gotten away with what he has done is the press and WH press reporters. They are complicit, they don’t ask the questions they should be asking because they are concerned about their access to the Dotard.

    Steve S said that it was a mistake to disinvite Steve Bannon because the journalist could have used this as an opportunity to expose Steve Bannon. Expose what? We already know who Steve Bannon is and what he stands for. These days, journalists aren’t interested in asking the hard questions. They allow the Dotard supporters and WH workers to overtalk them and distract(bringing up fake stories about Hillary, her emails, and uranium).

  20. why? says:

    The bots are viciously attacking the Fred G, a father whose daughter was killed in Parkland because he said something about what happened to him when he attempted to shake Brett Kavanaughn’s hand today. BK looked at him with disgust and turned his back on him. The WH claimed that BK’s security was the blame and that BK didn’t even know who Fred was, but the video contradicts their account and Fred G has been doing many interviews about his daughter and Parkland and was introduced by Diane F so how could BK and the WH not know him? Fred also said that BK had security throw him out of the hearing and even identified him to the security by the bracelets he was wearing to honor his daughter, but how did BK even know about the bracelets when according to the WH he couldn’t shake Fred’s hand because security rushed him out?

    The Dotard, John Kelly, Mattis, and Sarah Lieabee are calling Bob Woodward a liar. Every time the Dotard opens his mouth, he lies. Kelly told a lie about the congresswoman and then refused to apologize even after many press outlets showed footage to contradict his lie. Mattis has no backbone and does anything the Dotard tells him to do. Then there is Sarah who burns facts and uses the ashes to make a perfect smokey eye. All of this is only possible because the press and WH press reporters refuse to do their jobs because having access to the Dotard is far more important than standing up to the WH staffers and the Dotard.

    The Democrats are playing too nice with the republicans. Brett K is going to get confirmed because they are trying to approach his confirmation using Pelosi and Schumer’s civility logic. Instead of whining about how the republicans weren’t playing fair, the Democrats should have taken turns reading from the papers that the republicans dropped on them late last night. What do the Russians have on Graham, Rand Paul, Devin Nunes, and Chuck G because they are doing everything possible to protect the Dotard?