Milo Yiannopoulos’ book Dangerous was canceled abruptly Monday after Republican conservatives released clips of videos-with-audio in which he seemed to condone sex between men and boys.
In a terse statement released Monday afternoon, the right-wing provocateur’s publisher said: “After careful consideration, Simon & Schuster and its Threshold Editions imprint have canceled publication of Dangerous by Milo Yiannopoulos.”
Minutes later, Yiannopoulos posted this on Facebook: “They canceled my book.”
Yiannopoulos’ provocative right-wing persona (he attacked feminists and trashed women who used birth control, to name a few of his views), helped get him a reported $250,000 book deal from Threshold Editions, a conservative imprint of Simon & Schuster, which was due to release Dangerous in June.
The book stirred controversy and outrage from the get-go. When word of the deal came out late last year, it inspired critical tweets, threats to boycott S&S books and vows from some authors to find another publisher for their own books. The book rose to No. 1 on Amazon in early February, but by Monday it had dropped to No. 84, based on pre-orders.
But the latest uproar was a bridge too far for his publisher.
The gay British writer, who has collected kudos in the era of Donald Trump as a self-described “dangerous” provocateur, teetered on the edge of disaster Monday after Republican conservatives released clips of videos-with-audio in which he talked about his own past as a teenager who had sex with men and suggested that some young teen boys might be old enough to give consent to such sexual relationships.
The clips were released Sunday on Twitter by The Reagan Battalion, a blog that describes itself as “news, information, commentary, from a conservative perspective.”
Yiannopoulos tried on Facebook to defend himself but it didn’t matter. He was abruptly dis-invited from speaking at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference starting this week in Washington, according to a tweet from the American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp.
— Matt Schlapp (@mschlapp) February 20, 2017
Meanwhile, Yiannopoulos’ employer, Breitbart News, was reported by Fox Business Network and Washingtonian magazine to be considering whether to fire him from his writer/editor job where he has gained fame and infamy in equal measure while gleefully aiming vitriol at liberals, gays, Jews, foreigners, Democrats, plus many others.
— Charles Gasparino (@CGasparino) February 20, 2017
Until Monday’s cancellation, Threshold had been fairly tight-lipped in response to its controversial author, answering few questions about his book except that it was moved to a June 13 publication date after Yiannopoulos asked for more time to write about recent campus riots over his scheduled appearances.
Last month, Simon & Schuster president Carolyn Reidy sent a letter to the company’s concerned authors, which read in part: “First and foremost, I want to make clear that we do not support or condone, nor will we publish, hate speech.”
It’s not the first time a publisher has dumped a deal in the wake of embarrassing or offensive remarks by an author.
In 2013, Ballantine Books canceled Southern food queen Paula Deen’s deal for multiple books, including a cookbook, Paula Deen’s New Testament: 250 Favorite Recipes, All Lightened Up, that was the No. 1 seller on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com at the time, after scandal enveloped her following her admission she used a racial slur.
In 2014, Touchstone, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, canceled a book deal with John LeFevre based on an anonymous parody Twitter account in which he shared conversations he supposedly had overheard in the Goldman Sachs elevator. After his identity was exposed, it was revealed he had never officially worked at the financial firm, and the book deal was withdrawn. (A new publisher, Grove Atlantic, quickly picked it up, and Straight to Hell was published in 2015.)
More recently, HarperCollins in January withdrew a book that already had been published, What the (Bleep) Just Happened? by conservative columnist Monica Crowley, after evidence emerged of plagiarism. That controversy led Crowley to forgo her appointment to the National Security Council in the Trump administration.
Yiannopoulos has so far not commented on his CPAC snub. But he fought back against his critics in a long post Monday on Facebook that he called “a note for idiots.” He denied being in favor of pedophilia, acknowledged he does believe there are relationships between “younger men” and older men that can help a young gay man, and admitted he shouldn’t have used the word “boy” in discussing those relationships.
“That was a mistake,” he wrote. “Gay men often use the word ‘boy’ when they refer to consenting adults. I understand that heterosexual people might not know that, so it was a sloppy choice of words that I regret.”
He described pedophilia as a “vile and disgusting crime,” and accused his critics of a conspiracy “to discredit me from establishment Republicans.”
“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,” Yiannopoulos declared on Facebook. (He was ejected from Twitter last year for leading a troll campaign against SNL comedian/actress Leslie Jones.)
But Schlapp said on Twitter that Yiannopoulos’ Facebook post was “insufficient.” And generally the tone in his post was one of defiance and contempt for his critics. Only this time, instead of pouring his scorn on liberal Democrats, he was fighting with people who are supposed to be on his side.
“This rush to judgment from establishment conservatives who hate Trump as much as they hate me, before I have had any chance to provide context or a response, is one of the big reasons gays vote Democrat,” he wrote.
The clips, dug up after Yiannopoulos was invited to speak at CPAC, record Yiannopoulos discussing Jews, sexual consent, statutory rape, child abuse and homosexuality. He also joked — in an “edgy way,” he claimed — about his own teen sexual encounter with a priest.
Be forewarned: This clip contains profane and sexually explicit content:
— The Reagan Battalion (@ReaganBattalion) February 20, 2017
It did not go over well, at least not with The Reagan Battalion. “Listen to this and ask yourself: Would you be comfortable with this guy hanging around your children?” the blog tweeted.
Listen to this and ask yourself: Would you be comfortable with this guy hanging around your children? https://t.co/CoEVgqcDe9
— The Reagan Battalion (@ReaganBattalion) February 20, 2017
I remember conservatives outraged by the passage in Lena Dunham’s book about her and her sister. Now she’s qualified to speak at CPAC.
— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) February 20, 2017
— Hunter Estes (@realHunterEstes) February 20, 2017