A March 22 Financial Times event about the “future of news” is stacked with media luminaries. Billed as a networking opportunity for C-suite executives, a ticket for the all-day affair goes for $875. It features top journalists from BuzzFeed and Vice, executives from Google and Facebook, and senior figures from Splinter’s parent company Univision, The New York Times, and CNN.
It also features Steve Bannon.
The former top Trump adviser and ex-Breitbart chairman, who once referred to the national media as “the opposition party,” is the last of three keynote interviews listed for the event. He will be preceded in separate live sitdowns with FT editor Lionel Barber by Times executive editor Dean Baquet and CNN president Jeff Zucker.
Lest anyone forgets: Bannon helped build out the digital apparatus that propelled Trump’s White House run, a central theme of which was media hatred. As a short-lived presidential adviser, he told the press to “keep its mouth shut” as other aides engaged in the most extreme anti-media PR campaign in modern political history. In January, he was forced out of Breitbart News, a site that frequently spits hate into the media ether. Oh, and he’s a fervent white nationalist who, just days ago, told members of France’s far-right National Front party that people like them should embrace accusations of racism with pride.
The FT emphasized in a tweeted statement that Bannon’s sitdown is a “news interview” in service of the event’s broader mission to break down the “most pressing issues facing the industry.” A spokesperson declined to comment any further to Splinter.
The event’s lineup lists Bannon on an equal plane as Zucker and Baquet, who run news organizations that are among the Trump administration and pro-Trump media’s favorite punching bags. A representative for CNN has not responded to Splinter’s inquiry as to whether Bannon’s inclusion affected Zucker’s thoughts on participating.
Baquet, meanwhile, disputed the characterization by critics on Twitter that he would be “sharing a stage” with Bannon.
“It sort of feels sort of ‘unjournalistic,’ if that is a word, to refuse to participate in a forum because Bannon or someone else will be in the same event,” Baquet wrote in an email to Splinter. “I’d argue that this is an important moment in American journalism, and it would be good for people to hear that.”
Update, 2:00 p.m. EST: Splinter also requested comment from Isaac Lee, chief content officer of Univision, which owns Gizmodo Media Group. He is appearing in a panel discussion as part of the FT event.