The episode underscored a recurring dilemma in the news media world over whether Bannon - whose stature has diminished after being exiled by President Trump and shunned by Breitbart, the right-wing website Bannon used to run - warrants such prominent platforms.
Bannon, who left the White House in August 2017 and has moved on to helping far-right groups in Europe, was scheduled to speak with New Yorker editor David Remnick on "the Ideology of Trumpism" on October 5. Comedian and actor John Mulaney withdrew, as did Jimmy Fallon, Patton Oswalt, Jim Carrey and director Judd Apatow.
"I will not take part in an event that normalizes hate", Apatow said via Twitter, calling on the magazine to cancel Bannon's portion of the event.
Jim Carrey played his disapproval with a little more lightheartedness.
"To interview Bannon is not to endorse him", David Remnick said. New Yorker contributors made their feelings known as well.
That's good. Remnick also deserves credit for something far more significant: Giving Ronan Farrow's stellar investigative work on Harvey Weinstein a safe harbor a year ago after NBC failed to provide adequate support.
"I have every intention of asking him hard questions and engaging in a serious and even combative conversation", Remnick told the New York Times in a phone interview. "The audience itself, by its presence, puts a certain pressure on a conversation that an interview alone doesn't do".
If Steve Bannon is at the New Yorker festival I am out. I've thought this through and talked to colleagues - and I've re-considered. But, instead, all these famous people, these New Yorker contributors, and these newly unsubscribed readers who shouted their disapproval are no different than the college students who scream that they do not want to be exposed to unsafe ideas every time Milo cons his way onto campus. British writer Laurie Penny tweeted Monday that she "cannot in good conscience appear at an event which chooses to dignify a neo-nationalist like Steve Bannon".
'I've changed my mind. Did the New Yorker do the right thing?
He added that the magazine had interviewed Bannon before and would do so again if the opportunity arose "in a more traditionally journalistic setting" rather than on stage.
"I would like to invite you to sit down with me for an informal, free-ranging discussion of the political movements redefining worldwide and local politics".
Author Roxane Gay offered an unvarnished view on Twitter: Inviting Bannon "demonstrates how the intellectual class doesn't truly understand racism or xenophobia".