Downfall of a troll: Milo Yiannopoulos finds himself in rare hot sea
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Milo Yiannopoulos finally went too far.
It’s odd to say that about someone who has called feminism “a bowel cancer,” labeled a reporter a “thick-as-pig-sh*t media Jew” and has said flatly that he hates Islam.
But Yiannopoulos, an editor at Breitbart News who describes himself as “the most fabulous supervillain on the internet,” now finds himself in a professional crisis unlike any he’s faced before.
While Yiannopoulos has made a living off deliberately offensive statements, recently unearthed remarks in which he seemed to endorse sex between “younger boys and older men” cost him two opportunities to reach a larger audience.
And now there is speculation that Breitbart, typically unapologetic in the face of public outrage, may cut ties with Yiannopoulos.
The Washington Post’s Robert Costa reported that there were “ongoing discussions” about Yiannopoulos’ future at Breitbart on Monday afternoon. A separate report in The Washingtonian said “at least a half-dozen” Breitbart employees had threatened to leave the company unless Yiannopoulos is fired.
A Breitbart spokesman did not respond to a request for comment, and Yiannopoulos dismissed those reports.
“No reason to suppose the reports about Breitbart are true,” he told CNNMoney on Monday. “I certainly haven’t heard anything like that.”
Yiannopoulos has scheduled a press conference on Tuesday afternoon in New York.
The fallout over the comments about sex between children and adults, which he made during appearances on two podcasts, was swift and appeared to blindside Yiannopoulos.
Early Monday afternoon, the American Conservative Union, which sponsors the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, said it had rescinded its invitation for Yiannopoulos to speak. The conference opens Wednesday outside Washington.
Shortly after the decision was made public, Yiannopoulos said he was in the dark.
“I haven’t heard that,” he said in an email.
Only hours later, Simon & Schuster announced that it was canceling his forthcoming book, “Dangerous.”
The publishing giant was pilloried when it announced the book deal in December. Critics decried the decision to give a potentially lucrative platform to someone who has ridiculed Muslims, transgender people and women.
But after two months of defending the deal, Simon & Schuster apparently decided that the incendiary video clips were too much. A spokesman said the publisher made the decision after “careful consideration.”
In one of the clips, Yiannopoulos seemed to speak sympathetically of certain sexual relationships between adult men and 13-year-old boys.
“Pedophilia is not a sexual attraction to somebody 13 years old who is sexually mature,” he said. “Pedophilia is attraction to children who have not reached puberty.”
In another exchange, Yiannopoulos spoke fondly of “the sort of ‘coming of age’ relationship … in which those older men help those young boys discover who they are and give them security and safety and provide them with love and a reliable sort of rock, where they can’t speak to their parents.”
Yiannopoulos has said repeatedly that the videos were “deceptively edited.” He told CNNMoney in a phone interview on Monday that his comment about 13-year-olds was a reference to the age at which he lost his virginity.
But Yiannopoulos also told CNNMoney he was “guilty of imprecise language,” and insisted that he believes pedophilia is a “vile and disgusting crime.”
There were more than a few observers on the left who wondered why it took so long for some to disavow Yiannopoulos. Last year, Yiannopoulos was banned from Twitter after leading a harassment campaign against “Saturday Night Live” star Leslie Jones.
But Yiannopoulos also has plenty of critics on the right, many of whom pressured the ACU to rescind his invitation to CPAC.
Chief among them was Jonah Goldberg, a senior editor at the conservative National Review, who spoke out strongly about Yiannopoulos’ inclusion at the conference.
After the invitation was pulled, Goldberg was still unimpressed.
“Apparently the racism and anti-Semitism wasn’t a dealbreaker,” he told CNNMoney.