Milo Yiannopoulos resigned from Breitbart News on Tuesday following the publication of comments he made in which he appeared to defend pedophilia, the Washington Post is reporting. The resignation follows an intense two-day period during which the former editor was dis-invited from speaking at a conference, lost a book contract, and ultimately lost his job, all because of a year-old video.
In a statement, Yiannopoulos cited his “poor choice of words” as his reason for leaving Breitbart, insisting that the decision was his and his alone.
Break: MILO resigns from Breitbart pic.twitter.com/pSQnJ0b9vA
— Michael M. Grynbaum (@grynbaum) February 21, 2017
Although Yiannopolos claims that he made the decision to leave Breitbart himself, the Washington Post actually claims that the conservative media outlet had been discussing Yiannopoulos’ future as early as Monday afternoon.
The trouble for Yiannopoulos began when he was announced as a speaker for an upcoming Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). In response, conservative website Reagan Battalion dug up a January 2016 interview with Yiannopoulos, during which the former Breitbart editor appeared to make statements in support of pedophilia, and then provided a link to the video on YouTube.
For those not interested in watching the nearly three-hour video, Milo’s offensive remarks came up in the context of the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal. Yiannopoulos appears to largely dismiss the scandal, saying that sexual relationships between adults and 13-year-olds can be “consensual.” He also spoke of his own experience of being sexually active at a young age, saying he believed at the time that he was mature enough to consent to sex with an adult man.
“Pedophilia is not a sexual attraction to somebody 13 years old, who is sexually mature [but instead] pedophilia is attraction to children who have not reached puberty.”
The comments were immediately deemed offensive by both the Left and the Right. Even conservative publications such as National Review, the Blaze, Townhall, and the American Conservative condemned Yiannopoulos for his remarks that seemed to support adults having sex with children.
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) February 21, 2017
For his part, Milo claimed that his remarks were mischaracterized and taken out of context, and he also claimed that he was speaking with the “usual blend of British sarcasm, provocation and gallows humour,” according to BBC News.
The damage, however, had already been done. Not long after the remarks surfaced, CPAC rescinded Yiannopoulos’ invitation to speak. That was soon followed by book publisher Simon & Schuster pulling the plug on a Yiannopoulos book that had been scheduled for release in June. Then, he resigned from his job at Breitbart.
For New York Times writer Jeremy W. Peters, Yiannopoulos’ career is emblematic of a disturbing trend in conservative media, one that mirrors the rise of reality TV star and businessman Donald Trump becoming president.
“Many on the right are pointing to the Yiannopoulos controversies as a symptom of a trend toward conservatism as performance art, placing less value on ideas like small government and self-reliance than it does on attitude, personality and provocation… provocateurs like Mr. Yiannopoulos suck up most of the oxygen, becoming the public face of the movement and pushing more serious ideas to the sideline.”
Similarly, Washington Post writer Callum Borchers sees Yiannopoulos’ fall as a kind of karmic comeuppance for his own brand of rhetoric.
“Yiannopoulos has never been a sophisticated voice in conservative politics. He has made a career out of being the gay immigrant who tells his Breitbart audience that it is okay to use gay slurs and discriminate against immigrants. Yet he is remarkably skilled at convincing others that shutting out his kind of intolerance is a kind of intolerance all its own.”
As of this writing, it is not clear what Milo Yiannopoulos intends to do with his career now that he has resigned from Breitbart.
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