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Saturday May 25th, 2019 7:58PM

Steve Bannon still expected to speak at Economist festival

By The Associated Press
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NEW YORK (AP) — Steve Bannon's invitation to speak at a festival hosted by The Economist is still on.

The magazine announced Tuesday that Bannon would be speaking, as scheduled, during The Economist's "Open Future" gathering later this month. The former Trump strategist and Breitbart executive will be interviewed Sept. 15 in New York by Editor-In-Chief Zanny Minton Beddoes.

On Monday, New Yorker Editor David Remnick withdrew an invitation for Bannon to speak at the magazine's festival next month after facing widespread criticism and threats by Jim Carrey, Judd Apatow and other guests to drop out. Beddoes said in a statement that she was deeply troubled by Bannon's far right stances, but believed open debate was more important.

"Mr. Bannon stands for a world view that is antithetical to the liberal values The Economist has always espoused. We asked him to take part because his populist nationalism is of grave consequence in today's politics. He helped propel Donald Trump to the White House and he is advising the populist far right in several European countries where they are close to power or in government. Worryingly large numbers of people are drawn to nativist nationalism. And Mr. Bannon is one of its chief proponents," she wrote.

"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. This will expose bigotry and prejudice, just as it will reaffirm and refresh liberalism. That is the premise The Economist was founded on."

A couple of "Open Future" speakers already have canceled because of Bannon. Ally Fogg of The Guardian tweeted that he would not be coming, and British writer Laurie Penny tweeted that she "cannot in good conscience appear at an event which chooses to dignify a neo-nationalist like Steve Bannon."

The New Yorker's announcement Monday that Bannon was invited to the magazine's festival, followed within hours by Remnick's decision to un-invite him, set off a fierce debate about whether it was better to challenge or to shun Bannon. While numerous New Yorker staffers expressed relief he was no longer attending, longtime contributor Malcolm Gladwell disagreed. "Call me old-fashioned," he tweeted. "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."

Bannon, meanwhile, issued a statement Monday saying that he had welcomed the chance to spar with Remnick, a prominent Trump opponent.

"The reason for my acceptance was simple: I would be facing one of the most fearless journalists of his generation," Bannon said. "In what I would call a defining moment, David Remnick showed that he was gutless when confronted by the howling mob."

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