Breitbart News executive chairman Steve Bannon has told multiple people that he will never work with Milo Yiannopoulos again in the aftermath of a BuzzFeed News exposé linking Breitbart's former tech editor to white nationalists, BuzzFeed News has learned.
Yiannopoulos, Bannon told at least one acquaintance, is "dead to me."
But members of the Mercer family, Bannon's and Yiannopoulos's key, shared patrons and partners on the new right, have not signaled whether they will continue to bankroll the controversial culture warrior. Their decision may shed light on the extent to which the hedge fund billionaires are motivated by the raw ethnonationalist politics a cache of leaked documents related to Yiannopoulos and Breitbart revealed.
The Mercers did not respond to multiple emails asking them if they intended to continue funding Yiannopoulos, nor did they respond to emails informing them that Bannon had excommunicated him.
BuzzFeed News's story demonstrated that Breitbart, which the Mercers partly own, ran numerous stories that were conceived and coedited by white nationalists. The central figure in this effort was Yiannopoulos, who, the story revealed, once sang "America the Beautiful” in a karaoke bar as a crowd, including the white nationalist Richard Spencer, gave Nazi salutes.
According to half a dozen people in Bannon's orbit, the story's revelations were enough to push the brawling former White House chief strategist to disavow Yiannopoulos, telling those close to him that there will never be a place for him at Breitbart again. (Yiannopoulos resigned from the site in February 2017, after a video surfaced in which he appeared to condone pedophilia. After Bannon left the government in August, Yiannopoulos had told friends that he expected to be rehired.)
In the two weeks since the story ran, however, neither Robert Mercer, the co-CEO of the $65 billion hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, nor Rebekah, his powerful daughter, have indicated whether they would continue to fund Yiannopoulos. As BuzzFeed News reported, the Mercers paid Yiannopoulos for more than a year in a variety of ways: Through Breitbart, through their production company, Glittering Steel, and even directly to Yiannopoulos's bank account through Robert Mercer's personal accountant. Rebekah Mercer was friendly enough with Yiannopoulos — who visited the family at their house in Florida earlier this year — to offer periodontist recommendations to Yiannopoulos via text.
It's unclear whether either Mercer knew about Yiannopoulos's connections to white nationalists prior to the BuzzFeed News story.
For the press-shy billionaires — who have funded an insurgency in the Republican party through tens of millions of dollars in political donations, a conservative research shop, and a controversial data analytics firm — the lack of a public break with Yiannopoulos raises questions about what exactly they want the future of conservative politics to look like. The anti-globalization, anti-immigration Breitbart, which once featured a "black crime" vertical, has long been accused by critics of stoking white racial resentment.
But Yiannopoulos's actions as tech editor are clear evidence that the site cultivated actual white nationalists and neo-Nazis — actions that the people who long paid his salary have yet to denounce.
Joe Bernstein is a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Bernstein reports on and writes about the gaming industry and web culture.
Contact Joseph Bernstein at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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