The New Yorker magazine on Monday withdrew its invitation to interview Steve Bannon, a former aide of United States President Donald Trump, at a literary festival next month. In a statement released on Twitter, David Remnick, the magazine’s editor, said he had changed his mind after facing criticism on social media.

“I’ve thought this through and talked to colleagues – and I’ve re-considered,” said Remnick. “There is a better way to do this. Our writers have interviewed Steve Bannon for The New Yorker before, and if the opportunity presents itself I’ll interview him in a more traditionally journalistic setting as we first discussed, and not on stage.”

Remnick has been a vocal critic of the Trump administration. He claimed interviewing Bannon, “one of Trumpism’s leading creators and organisers”, was not tantamount to pulling him out of obscurity as the former aide was already a public figure. “The main argument for not engaging someone like Bannon is that we are giving him a platform and that he will use it, unfiltered, to propel further the ‘ideas’ of white nationalism, racism, anti-Semitism, and illiberalism,” Remnick wrote. “But to interview Bannon is not to endorse him.”

Remnick said he had hoped to conduct a “rigorous interview”, which would put pressure on Bannon’s views. He also acknowledged that guests at the festival, unlike those interviewed on radio or for a story in print, are paid an honorarium along with money for travel and lodging.

Bannon on Monday said he had accepted the invitation after repeated requests over several months and without considering the honorarium, AP reported. “The reason for my acceptance was simple: I would be facing one of the most fearless journalists of his generation,” said Bannon. “In what I would call a defining moment, David Remnick showed he was gutless when confronted by the howling online mob.”

Other guests at the 2018 New Yorker Festival include actor Emily Blunt, author Zadie Smith, and former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates. Trump fired Yates after she refused to support his initial ban on travellers from seven Muslim countries, which was advocated by Bannon during his time as White House chief strategist.