Firebrand conservative columnist Milo Yiannopolous quits Breitbart after he was accused of defending pedophilia – but storms: ‘This is a politically-motivated witch-hunt. F*** you for that.’
- Firebrand ‘alt-right’ columnist dramatically announced he was leaving Breitbart after videos surfaced of him speaking about pedophilia
- He was accused of condoning and defending pedophiles by speaking about ‘coming of age relationships’ being criminalized
- His $250,000 book deal was canceled when the comments surfaced and his speaking engagement at a major conservative conference also stopped
- Statement on Monday afternoon said he did not want his ‘poor choice of words’ to stop Breitbart’s ‘great work’
- British-born self-styled ‘dangerous faggot’, 32, has said he was not defending pedophiles and was himself a victim of child abuse
- He surfaced on Monday afternoon at a press conference in New York shortly after issuing his statement to defend himself
- Claming the row was a set-up, he said he now had ‘millions of fans’, adding: ‘I don’t think this has done any harm for my profile.’
Milo Yiannopoulos said Tuesday that political adversaries and mainstream media had sparked a ‘witch hunt’ against him following the emergence of a video in which he appeared to support pedophilia – but said that despite losing his job and a book deal, he would not be silenced.
He used a press conference in New York to fight back after videos were published in which he spoke about ‘inter-generational relationships’ and was revealed to have said: ‘The whole consent thing is not as black and white as people try and paint it.’
The storm cost him first a $250,000 book deal, then a prestigious conservative speaking engagement and finally his job as technology editor of conservative website Breitbart, from which he resigned shortly before the press conference.
‘It was a politically motivated witch-hunt and they waited until the most damaging moment,’ he said.
‘They held the footage back, that has been out there in the world for over a year, because they don’t care about the victims and they don’t care about children. They only care about bringing me down.’
He added: ‘They will fail.’
The alt-right figure took responsibility for his words and apologized to the victims of child abuse over his remarks.
He went on to say that this was the first time he had apologized and unlikely would again – as well as saying he had exposed three pedophiles in his time as a journalist.
‘I do not support child abuse,’ he said. ‘It’s a disgusting crime of which I am a victim.’
He addressed abuse victims directly to tell them ‘it’s not the worst thing that’s ever going to happen to you’ before adding that ‘going bankrupt is worse’.
He went on to rail against the media and the Left, claiming that the video of his comments had been deceptively edited.
‘They have reported things about me which they know aren’t true and f*** you for that,’ he said to the assembled press.
He said that he had exposed three pedophiles in his journalistic career, adding ‘three more than most of my critics’.
‘Most journalists have no sense of the country they are reporting on and I do,’ he later added.
He also said he believed he has done more for the image of gay people in the ‘flyover states’ than any other gay rights charities, advocacy groups and publications in the last 30 years.
Yiannopoulos said Breitbart had stood by him and that he had decided to step down to allow them continue with their work, adding that he would now be focused on ‘education and entertainment’.
‘I don’t think this has done any harm for my profile,’ he said – announcing that he would be setting up his own website, and returning to speaking at campuses and commercial speaking events very soon.
He opened the press conference, by reading from a prepared statement: ‘I am a gay man and a child abuse victim. Between the ages of 13 and 16, two men touched me in ways they should not have. One of those men was a priest.
‘My relationship with my abusers is complicated by the fact that at the time, I didn’t perceive what was happening as abuse. I can look back now and see that it was.
‘I still don’t view myself as a victim but I clearly I am that. Looking back I see the effects that this had on me. In the years after this happened, I fell into alcohol and nihilistic partying. It lasted well into my twenties.
‘A few years ago, I realized it was time to do something good with my life. I started focusing on work but the black comedy, the gallows humor and the love of shock value from my twenties never really went away.
‘I’ve reviewed the tapes that appeared two days ago in the proper context and I don’t believe that they say what is being reported.
‘Nevertheless, I do say some things on the tape that I do not mean and that do not reflect my views.’
He added: ‘My experiences as a victim led me to believe that I could say almost anything on the subject – no matter how outrageous.
‘But I understand that my usual blend of sassy, gay, British sarcasm, provocation and gallows humor might have come across as flippancy and lack of care for other victims, or even worse as seems to have been the case in reports, advocacy. I am horrified by that impression.
‘I would like to restate my disgust for adults who sexually abuse minors.’
He said that he believed the age of consent ‘was about right’ and did not believe it should be lowered, adding that he believed the legal age of consent in Germany – 14 – was too young.
Yiannopoulos claimed that a section in the tape where he talked about the age of consent had been edited out.
‘I don’t believe that sex with 13-year-olds is okay,’ he said. ‘When I mentioned the number 13 [on the tape], I was talking about myself and the age I lost my virginity.’
The firebrand commentator said he would not apologize for ‘dealing with my life experiences in the way that I choose to which is through humor and provocation. No one can tell me or anyone else who has lived through these experiences how they should best deal with those emotions’.
He added: ‘But I am sorry to other abuse victims who may have interpreted what I said as flippant or uncaring.’
Yiannopoulos said he ‘would never stop making jokes about taboo subjects’ and said that in any gay club or drag bar there was ‘joke after joke after joke about clerical sexual abuse’.
He complained that he was not afforded the same freedom to make those kind of jokes and blamed the media for ‘selectively defining me as a political figure in some circumstances and a comedian in others. And also, of course, because I’m conservative.’
And he said he believed that Simon & Schuster’s decision to jettison his book, Dangerous, would make them ‘popular at New York cocktail parties’ but said other publishers had expressed interest and that he believed it would still be bought by his millions of followers.
The controversy began when a Twitter account, @ReaganBattallion, was used to publish the videos in which Yiannopolous discussed ‘inter-generational relationships’ and said: ‘The whole consent thing is not as black and white as people try and paint it.
Among his comments, he said: ‘People are messy and complex, particularly in the homosexual world.
‘Some of those relationships between younger boys and older men, the sort of ‘coming of age’ relationships, the relationships in which those older men help those young boys to discover who they are, and give them security and safety and provide them with love and a reliable rock where they can’t speak to their parents.’
He also said: ‘Pedophilia is not a sexual attraction to somebody 13 years old who is sexually mature.’
That led to a storm of criticism aimed principally at Simon & Schuster, the publishing house, for his $250,000 book deal – which it canceled on Monday – and the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), which had invited him to speak later this week, and which rescinded its invitation on Monday.
Breitbart, his employer, had however stood by him. At his press conference he said that he would not be deterred from carving out a career as a conservative and libertarian provocateur.
In quitting Breitbart, he said he did not want to distract from the site’s work. In a statement, he said: ‘Breitbart news has stood by me when others caved.
‘They have allowed me to carry conservative and libertarian ideas to communities that would otherwise never have heard them.
‘They have been a significant factor in my success. I’m grateful for that freedom and for the friendships I forged there.
‘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.’
He added: ‘When your friends have done right by you, you do right by them. For me, now, that means stepping aside so my colleagues at Breitbart can get back to the great work they do.’
Pressure on British-born Yiannonpolous, 34, had grown on Monday morning as the editor-in-chief of Breitbart, Alex Marlow, called his comments ‘indefensible’.
Marlow had offered a defense of his right to speak – and claimed that what Yiannopolous had said was no worse than the actions of liberal favorites including Lena Dunham, who, writing in her autobiography, described touching her sister’s private parts when they were both children and Roman Polanski, still wanted for statutory rape.
Politico reported that Marlow told the Breitbart radio show that his columnist’s comments were ‘indefensible’, ‘troubling’ and ‘upsetting’ – and a ‘total surprise’ to his employers.
‘He seemed to be speaking from personal experience as a gay man; he also revealed he’s a victim of child abuse himself,’ Marlow said,
‘He himself told me he’s never had inappropriate contact with a minor since he was an adult. … it’s all very upsetting and something we take very seriously at Breitbart.’
But he added: ‘We have many examples on the left who have admitted to statutory rape; Lena Dunham had in her book touching her sister’s private parts as a child; you have Roman Polanski; you have millions of examples of the left of normalizing behavior, similar to what Milo described.
‘There’s no evidence Milo has been a predator, and so I do think that is also very important context.’
Breitbart is closely linked to the White House. President Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, was until he joined the Trump campaign, Breitbart’s executive chair and had been one of the founding member of its board.
Yiannopolous has credited Bannon as a mentor and said: ‘He made me a star.’
Yiannopolous said at his press conference in New York that he had not spoken to Bannon about his resignation.
He added that his immigration status in the U.S. was not tied to a work visa for the publication.
Yiannopoulos said that he has an 01-B visa – designated for aliens of ‘extraordinary ability’, which means that the current storm is unlikely to affect his presence in the country.