Coverage: Simon & Schuster cancels book deal with conservative
Publisher Simon & Schuster, a division of CBS Corp., announced Monday it cancelled Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos’s book deal after resurfaced videos showed the far-right provocateur criticizing age-of-consent laws.
Elahe Izadi of The Washington Post had the news:
Hours earlier, organizers of the Conservative Political Action Conference rescinded their invitation for Yiannopoulos to participate in this week’s conference. “Due to the revelation of an offensive video in the past 24 hours condoning pedophilia, the American Conservative Union has decided to rescind the invitation,” ACU chairman Matt Schlapp said in a statement.
The videos have been available for years, but resurfaced on social media over the weekend. In them, Yiannopoulos jokes about a teenage sexual encounter with a Catholic priest and argues about age-of-consent laws.
The controversial Breitbart editor defended himself on Facebook, writing that he does not support pedophilia, and “I am certainly guilty of imprecise language, which I regret.”
Maria Puente and Jocelyn McClung of USA Today reported that the book was controversial from the beginning:
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.”
Tom Kludt of CNNMoney reported that the book was scheduled to be published in June:
Yiannopoulos’ book was scheduled for a June release under the Simon & Schuster imprint Threshold Editions, which has published work from Donald Trump, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. Much like CPAC’s decision to offer a Yiannopoulos an opportunity to speak, the book deal, said to be a “mid-six figure sum,” prompted outrage from the moment it was announced in December.
Yiannopoulos frequently invokes the First Amendment to defend his inflammatory public comments, which often veer into racist and sexist territory. He was banned from Twitter last year after he spearheaded a harassment campaign against “Saturday Night Live” star Leslie Jones. Earlier this month, Yiannopoulos had a planned event at the University of California-Berkeley canceled after protests on campus turned violent.
But over the weekend, Yiannopoulos found himself the subject of protests on the right, with several notable conservative commentators speaking out against CPAC’s decision to include him.
By Monday afternoon, CPAC’s sponsor, the American Conservative Union, announced that it had reversed course.
“We continue to believe that CPAC is a constructive forum for controversies and disagreements among conservatives, however there is no disagreement among our attendees on the evils of sexual abuse of children,” ACU president Matt Schlapp said in a statement.