The flurry of condemnation and guest dropouts for New Yorker Festival following the announcement of Steve Bannon as the headline speaker was swiftly followed by the announcement that Bannon was out. The editor of the celebrated literary and cultural magazine, David Remnick, released a statement clarifying why he thought inviting Bannon was a good idea, but concluded that he had changed his mind and that Bannon was no longer to be featured at the event.
— The New Yorker (@NewYorker) September 3, 2018
Before and after the prominent disinvitation was issued, several writers had spoken out about the hoopla.
A favorite of empirically minded intellectuals, Malcolm Gladwell has never been afraid to court controversy while speaking his mind about sometimes troubling revelations in research. He complained that by only inviting like-minded individuals to the Festival, it weakened the discourse.
Huh. Call me old-fashioned. But I would have thought that the point of a festival of ideas was to expose the audience to ideas. If you only invite your friends over, it’s called a dinner party. https://t.co/VwkL4zOrbX
— Malcolm Gladwell (@Gladwell) September 4, 2018
Other New Yorker writers were less conciliatory. Journalist Kathryn Schulz framed the Bannon invitation as a crisis of her own conscience. She was just one of several of the magazine’s staff who approached editor David Remnick with their reservations about the Bannon event, and she expressed relief with the news that it had been canceled.
I agree, Rob. I dearly love the magazine and I’m daily grateful to be a part of it. But I also believe that we owe those things we love the gift of honest criticism. (Also that we owe our own conscience obedience.) https://t.co/WUOeBp6bxZ
— Kathryn Schulz (@kathrynschulz) September 3, 2018
Producer and writer Judd Apatow was one of the more prominent names in the comedy world (along with Patton Oswalt, John Malaney, Jim Carrey, and Bo Burnham) to come out against Bannon’s inclusion in the guest list. He called out the magazine for seemingly ignoring their own writing on the man’s political inclinations.
If Steve Bannon is at the New Yorker festival I am out. I will not take part in an event that normalizes hate. I hope the @NewYorker will do the right thing and cancel the Steve Bannon event. Maybe they should read their own reporting about his ideology.
— Judd Apatow (@JuddApatow) September 3, 2018
Without trying to take a stance one way or the other, the hubbub about Bannon being dropped from the Festival comes at a time when many liberal leaning outlets are grappling with the problems of promoting conservative thinkers. The problem has been percolating for a while at college and university forums across the country, with writers like Ann Coulter and Ben Shapiro facing fierce opposition from student groups protesting their appearances.
The drama with the New Yorker Festival is merely the latest scar in a ravaged partisan landscape from which, it seems, no aspect of public life can escape.
Feature Image Via The New Yorker