Milo Yiannopoulos, the conservative media personality under fire for comments he made that appeared to condone sex with minors, has resigned from Breitbart News, the platform that has helped boost his popularity on the far right.
“I would be wrong to allow my poor choice of words to detract from my colleagues important reporting, so today I am resigning from Breitbart, effective immediately. This decision is mine alone.”
At a press conference, Yiannopoulos, 32, said that he used a “poor choice of words” in a 2016 interview.
In the video, a 2016 episode of podcast “The Drunken Peasants,” Yiannopoulos discussed his own experience with sexual assault as a teenager. He argued in the clip that relationships between “younger boys and older men” could be beneficial.
“I regret the things that I said,” he said, while calling the furor over his comments a “cynical media witch hunt.” He said that critics waited until “the most damaging possible moment” to highlight the video.
“They don’t care about victims, they don’t care about children, they only care about bringing me down,” he said.
He said that “I’ve never apologized for anything before and I don’t anticipate doing it again.”
He even equated what he does to the humor of standup comedians, as he characterized himself as an entertainer even though he had been a technology editor at Breitbart. He said that his role had “mutated” as he gained attention.
Donald Trump’s campaign certainly helped boost his profile, as well as Trump’s appointment of Steve Bannon, the chairman of Breitbart, as campaign chairman and later chief strategist in the White House. Yiannopoulos said it was Bannon who brought him into the company, but said that he had not talked to him in a while.
“Steve Bannon is one of the foremost and brilliant political operatives of his generation,” Yiannopoulos said.
The Conservative Political Action Conference had announced over the weekend that he would be their keynote speaker at their upcoming conference. But there was then a backlash against the invite, fueled by a video that resurfaced on a conservative blog in which Yiannopoulos appears to defend pedophilia.
The American Conservative Union, which holds the conference, then disinvited Yiannopoulos, calling for him to “answer the tough questions and we urge him to immediately further address these disturbing comments.”
Later on Monday, Simon & Schuster’s Adam Rothberg announced that the company and its Threshold Editions division would be canceling its publication of Yiannopoulos’ book, “Dangerous.” It was due for release on June 13. At the press conference, he said that other publishers are interested in the title. He also said that he would be launching a new media company.
“I don’t think this is going to harm my profile,” he said, predicting that more people will read what he has to say about free speech.
In a Facebook post in response to the controversy, Yiannopoulos claimed that the video was “deceptively edited,” and said he was “horrified” by allegations that he was an advocate for pedophilia. He noted that he had been a victim of childhood sexual abuse.
“If it somehow comes across (through my own sloppy phrasing or through deceptive editing) that I meant any of the ugly things alleged, let me set the record straight: I am completely disgusted by the abuse of children,” he wrote in the post.
Yiannopoulos recently appeared on HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher,” where he criticized Sarah Silverman, Lena Dunham, and Amy Schumer, and discussed his issues with actress Leslie Jones.
With outrageous insults and comments that have been labelled as sexist and racist, Yiannopoulos’s appearances triggered protests on college campus, including a demonstration that turned violent at University of California at Berkeley and forced the event’s cancellation. But the furor only seemed to add to the persona that Yiannopoulos was trying to create, as a defender of free speech against political correctness.
“America has a gigantic free speech problem,” he said, saying that his “rapid rise” is “testament to the fact that America is crying out for somebody who will say the un-sayable.”
Yet his statements crossed a line with CPAC and his publisher — as well as other platform. Well before the book deal and that speaking engagement he was banned from Twitter after making offensive and disparaging remarks about Jones and her performance in “Ghostbusters.” She complained that it led to a flurry of racist and hateful rhetoric directed her way.