No, James Comey Didn’t Speak at SXSW
What has been described as the Super Bowl for Washington DC (as well as the biggest TV event of the year) occurs on Thursday, June 8 when James Comey testifies before Congress about his relationship to President Trump between January and May.
The former FBI Director did not speak at SXSW 2017, although our relationship with him is not quite that simple. He was initially scheduled for an on-stage interview at this year’s event — and his scheduled participation drew significant criticism by many members of our community. This criticism dissipated in early March when he canceled his appearance in Austin (because of another Congressional obligation).
In light of what has transpired with Comey over the last two months, SXSW staffers have continued to engage in a healthy dialogue about how his participation at the event would have been (for lack of better term) extremely meaningful. Or, who knows, perhaps it wouldn’t have been.
The back-and-forth over Comey reflects our many ongoing discussions about the future role of SXSW with regards to specific political agendas. Yes, as a company, we are strongly committed to certain principles and ideals, such as our firm opposition to the proposed Bathroom Bill in Texas. But we are also committed to insightful discussion — and insightful discussion may mean speakers whose opinions are not universally approved of. If these speakers are presented in a format that significantly challenges them (i.e., with a tough interviewer who will not back away from probing questions), then having these kinds of people at SXSW is a win for everyone.
What kind of insightful discussion (and very tough interview questions) will occur when Comey testifies in Washington DC on Thursday morning? Yes, a lot of America and a lot of the world are eagerly waiting to find out. Click here for info on the live stream.
Hugh Forrest tries to write at least four paragraphs per day on Medium. These posts often (but not always) cover technology-related trends. When not attempting to wordsmith or meditating, he serves as Chief Programming Officer at SXSW in Austin.