Publisher Simon & Schuster said Monday its planned publication of a book by Milo Yiannopoulous had been canceled after his comments on underage sex resurfaced over the weekend.
In a January 2016 interview, the Breitbart editor said sexual relationships between teenagers and adults could be consensual and beneficial. Critics — including CNN's Jake Tapper — said the statements amounted to defending pedophilia and child abuse. In one clip, Yiannopoulous said he was not talking about sex with children, but rather someone at least 13 who was "sexually mature" and had gone through puberty. He also joked that the priest who sexually abused him did him a favor by making him better at giving head.
The clips resurfaced on Sunday in advance of this week's CPAC, or Conservative Political Action Conference. Yiannopoulous had originally been invited to speak, but his invitation was revoked on Monday after the clips were posted on Twitter.
A few hours later, Simon & Schuster said it would also be dropping him.
"After careful consideration @simonschuster and its @threshold_books have cancelled publication of Dangerous by Milo Yiannopoulos," Simon & Schuster spokesman Adam Rothberg tweeted on Monday.
Yiannopoulous said in a Facebook post (he was banned from Twitter after inciting harassment of comedian Leslie Jones) that the clips were the result of deceptive editing and did not reflect his views.
"I do not advocate for illegal behavior. I explicitly say on the tapes that I think the current age of consent is 'about right,'" he wrote. "I do not believe sex with 13-year-olds is okay. When I mentioned the number 13, I was talking about the age I lost my own virginity."
Following the announcement that his book was canceled, he added, "I've gone through worse. This will not defeat me."
On Breitbart's radio show, Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow and Breitbart Washington editor Matt Boyle on Monday both called Yiannopoulos' comments as "not defensible," adding that they do not yet know what Yiannopoulos' future with Breitbart is.
Yiannopoulos is holding a press conference Monday afternoon to address the comments and is expected to talk about his role at Breitbart.
Yiannopolous' book, titled Dangerous as a nod to his "Dangerous Faggot" college speaking tour, had been scheduled to come out in June. The news of the upcoming publication, for which he received a $250,000 deal, sparked outrage and criticism.
In his speaking tour, Yiannopolous was often protested by campus groups who decried his message as anti-women, racist, anti-immigrant, anti-trans, and generally hate speech. A protest in Berkeley drew national headlines when members of the crowd started fires and smashed windows. Meanwhile, Yiannopolous's supporters said he should be praised for going against what they described as an out-of-control culture of political correctness.
In the immediate aftermath of the book announcement, Simon & Schuster defended the project as "incisive criticism" on political correctness and free speech. The company also sent a letter to its authors saying the book would not include hate speech.
Still, the publisher drew criticism for giving him a platform. In January, Bad Feminist writer Roxane Gay canceled her plans to publish an upcoming book with Simon & Schuster.
Gay told BuzzFeed News it was clear Simon & Schuster had made a business decision in canceling Yiannopoulos's book.
"They did not finally 'do the right thing' and now we know where their threshold, pun intended, lies," Gay said in a statement. "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. A great many people were perfectly comfortable with the targets of Milo’s hateful attention until that attention hit too close to home."
On Monday, competing publisher Melville House questioned Simon & Schuster's motives for initially dealing with Yiannopoulos and dropping the book so suddenly.
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Claudia Koerner is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
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