The New Yorker’s Steve Bannon Uproar in a Dozen Tweets
In under 11 hours, Steve Bannon went from New Yorker Festival headliner to disinvited guest. Here’s how the social media uproar unfolded.
Ten hours and 58 seconds.
That’s how long it took for Steve Bannon to go from being a marquee guest at The New Yorker Festival to being runny egg on editor David Remnick’s face.
The magazine disinvited the former White House strategist on Monday evening after a social media uproar that included threats of canceled subscriptions, tote bag jokes and a star-studded boycott.
Here’s how it unfolded.
The New Yorker unveiled the schedule for the Oct. 5-7 event on Monday morning. It included live conversations with so many bold-faced names. Harry Belafonte! Maggie Gyllenhaal! Zadie Smith! Steve Bannon!
Bannon was scheduled to be interviewed by Remnick, who is not exactly a fan of the Trump administration or right-wing nationalism and presumably was prepared to grill his interviewee like a Labor Day weiner.
The announcement tweet, unsurprisingly, got ratioed bigly. But it appears the firestorm really got started when writer Xeni Jardin, who has about 134,000 Twitter followers, said she was canceling her subscription to the New Yorker for giving Bannon a platform.
“It’s a damn shonda,” she tweeted.
Jardin racked up nearly 4,000 retweets and some of her followers started tweeting at other festival guests.
New Yorker fans began threatening to cancel their subscriptions unless the Bannon interview was scrapped. They said the magazine should not be amplifying his voice or paying him. There was actual talk of burning the tote bags sent to every subscriber. (Full disclosure: I have this tote bag and don’t know how I would live without it).
Not everyone thought Bannon should be banished. Some deplored his ideas but cited freedom of speech or the spirited exchange of ideas. Others predicted Remnick would eviscerate him on stage.
As a general rule, people were pretty angry about the whole thing. But naturally, a controversy sparked by a magazine filled with witty cartoons and the occasional Steve Martin essay also produced more light-hearted takes.
A few hours after Jardin’s tweet, big-name guests started tweeting that they would pull out of the festival if Bannon appeared.
All along, Remnick was monitoring the situation, noting the criticism from the public and even from staffers. Although he defended the decision to put Bannon in the lineup–and pay him a fee–he said he had reconsidered.
“I’ve changed my mind,” he wrote. “There’s a better way to do this.”
Bannon hasn’t tweeted in years but it’s safe to say that he probably won’t be taking his New Yorker tote bag to the farmer’s market anytime soon.