SXSW Taps FBI Director James Comey

FBI chief will discuss privacy and cybersecurity at March fest

South by Southwest has a hot ticket to announce today: The Conference plans to bring James Comey to Austin for a sit-down in mid-March.

FBI Director James Comey (via

Comey, if you’ve been living under a rock in Zanzibar, is the FBI director best known now for his royal bungling of the 2016 presidential election via a late October reveal to Congress (and in turn the general public) that his agency was still investigating whether Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton had used a private email server to do anything shady during her stint as U.S. secretary of state. Comey didn’t, you’ll remember, reveal at the time that Clinton’s central opponent, our current president, Donald Trump, was also under investigation by the Bureau for colluding with Russian forces to denigrate Clinton’s candidacy, an investigation that remains ongoing, and has perhaps expanded, today.

Trump won the presidency. Last weekend, while announcing Comey, he blew a kiss to the Bureau director. Everything is hunky dory, except for the fact that our federal government now plays a game of chicken with scientific reality. Do we have Comey to thank for that? Maybe partially. Are we excited to hear what he says about our future? Yes, that’s obvious.

At SXSW, Comey will sit down in conversation with Jeffrey Herbst, an American political scientist who in July 2015 became the president and CEO of the Newseum and Newseum Institute, a primary defender of the First Amendment. Herbst was president of Colgate University before taking over at the D.C.-based Newseum.

Today SXSW released the following press release:

In partnership with the Newseum, SXSW's conference programming will include a conversation with FBI Director James Comey and Newseum CEO Jeffrey Herbst.

“The Newseum is the premier national institution that promotes the freedoms of the First Amendment and the right of free expression," said Newseum CEO Jeffrey Herbst. "At SXSW, we will conduct a unique conversation examining the tensions between privacy and national security. Being able to share a high level conversation with FBI Director James Comey and the audience in Austin will help us all understand the challenges to our rights in the age of disruption."

SXSW has always been committed to facilitating conversations that inform, inspire, and challenge. At a time when the nation's top law enforcement agency has been at the center of international news, SXSW looks forward to an enlightening and productive discussion.

The session will take place Monday, March 13, 5pm, at the Downtown Hilton Austin and is restricted to SXSW registrants. For info on how to register for SXSW, see

Find the Chronicle’s continuing coverage of SXSW at The 2017 SXSW Conference and Festival runs March 10-19.

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SXSW, SXSW 2017, James Comey, SXSW Interactive, Jeffrey Herbst, Newseum, Russian hacking, cybersecurity

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