Simon & Schuster, the publishing house that on Monday canceled a book deal with Milo Yiannopoulos, should not expect a prize for its decision. Critics of the alt-right, like Roxane Gay, had for weeks called on the publisher to back out of the deal. On Tuesday, it did, after a 2015 video interview surfaced of Milo discussing pedophilia and pederasty.
Gay, who pulled her forthcoming book “How to Be Heard” from Simon & Schuster after the announcement of its book deal with Milo, was nowhere near satisfied with the publisher’s recent reversal, calling it a “business decision” that revealed where the threshold is for the publisher.
In canceling Milo’s book contract, Simon & Schuster made a business decision the same way they made a business decision when they decided to publish that man in the first place. When his comments about pedophilia/pederasty came to light, Simon & Schuster realized it would cost them more money to do business with Milo than he could earn for them. They did not finally “do the right thing” and now we know where their threshold, pun intended, lies. They were fine with his racist and xenophobic and sexist ideologies. They were fine with his transphobia, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. They were fine with how he encourages his followers to harass women and people of color and transgender people online. Let me assure you, as someone who endured a bit of that harassment, it is breathtaking in its scope, intensity, and cruelty but hey, we must protect the freedom of speech. Certainly, Simon & Schuster was not alone in what they were willing to tolerate.
On Monday Milo, a professional provocateur and editor at Breitbart, went on Facebook Live to deny that he condoned pedophilia or pederasty in the old video, which went viral and ultimately prompted the Conservative Political Action Conference to disinvite him from serving as a keynote speaker. Milo said the video had been doctored to misrepresent what he had been saying. In that old video interview, Milo later say that 18 years old was likely the proper age of consent.
Milo’s current employer, Breitbart, is mulling whether to fire its controversial editor. Some of Milo’s colleagues at Breitbart reportedly threatened to walk out if Milo was not let go. Breitbart’s current editor in chief, Alex Marlow (who replaced White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon during the presidential campaign), called Milo’s comments in the video “very troubling and upsetting . . . the bottom line is the comments are no defensible.”
UPDATED 2:35 p.m.: Milo has resigned.
Below view an announcement of his resignation:
Break: MILO resigns from Breitbart pic.twitter.com/pSQnJ0b9vA
— Michael M. Grynbaum (@grynbaum) February 21, 2017