On Monday, when videos reemerged on social media in which the Breitbart News senior editor Milo Yiannopoulos seemed to condone sexual relationships between adult men and teenagers below the age of consent, the overwhelming response was one of outrage. The CNN host Jake Tapper posted several tweets excoriating Yiannopoulos and his followers, quoting a horrified friend who was a survivor of sex trafficking. The former Breitbart writer Michelle Fields described the tapes as “disgusting.” There were mounting calls for the Conservative Political Action Conference, which had announced Yiannopoulos as its keynote speaker last week, to cancel his appearance, which it subsequently did.
According to Washingtonian, even employees at Breitbart, which has elevated and supported Yiannopoulos in his rise to prominence as an outspoken supporter of the alt-right, threatened to walk out unless he was fired. And on Tuesday afternoon, Yiannopoulos resigned from Breitbart, stating that he didn’t want his “poor choice of words to detract from my colleagues’ important reporting.”
But at Simon & Schuster, the publishing house that awarded Yiannopoulos a $250,000 book contract late last year, it’s possible to imagine executives exhaling with something akin to relief. For the company, which seemed somewhat blindsided by the initial reaction to Yiannopoulos’s book, the news offered an incontrovertible out—an opportunity to save face with authors and booksellers appalled by the deal, without provoking charges of suppressing free speech or unleashing the rage of his millions of followers. And on Monday afternoon, Simon & Schuster issued an extremely brief statement, saying, “After careful consideration, Simon & Schuster and its Threshold Editions imprint have cancelled publication of Dangerous by Milo Yiannopoulos.”