Milo Yiannopoulos | Media Matters for America

Milo Yiannopoulos

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  • With Bannon gone, the far-right media trolls are ready to break up with the White House

    The anti-establishment trolls have lost their biggest White House ally and are starting to go after Pence. Prepare for the right-wing media food fight.

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    Stephen Bannon is no longer the White House chief strategist. His departure, in addition to furthering the narrative of a Trump administration in constant chaos, is likely to become a source of acrimony between right-wing anti-establishment outlets and online trolls and those who remain in the Trump administration.

    Bannon’s departure has prompted a shift in amongst pro-Trump outlets and far-right trolls -- like The Gateway Pundit and Mike Cernovich -- who are now reporting that the White House is being taken over by a “deep state” coup led by Vice President Mike Pence. Cernovich is a right-wing opportunistic troll who rode to prominence by supporting President Donald Trump but has recently announced “a big pivot” away from the president. In response to the news about Bannon getting fired, Cernovich took to Periscope to claim that “there’s a full-on coup” organized by Pence but that Trump doesn’t deserve any sympathy because he’s “a 71-year old man” who chose to listen to his daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner instead of Bannon. Pro-Trump troll Jack Posobiec (who has also recently tried to move away from the “alt-right” movement) pushed the coup narrative as well, suggesting that the “RNC is counting impeachment votes from Congress against Trump,” adding, “They want rid of him.” Milo Yiannopoulos, a right-wing troll who was formerly employed by Breitbart.com, celebrated Bannon’s departure by launching Bannon 2020 merchandise on his online store and saying he looks forward to “having Steve back in the trenches again.” Yiannopoulos also said he wants to see “Bannon the Barbarian crush his enemies.”

    Bannon’s departure has other possible impacts for the far-right media universe. According to reports, Bannon might be returning to Breitbart, the Mercer-funded outlet he once claimed was “platform for the ‘alt-right,’” a term its current editors (much like former proud supporters of the movement) are trying to move away from. With Bannon in the White House, Breitbart behaved like any other pro-Trump outlet, showing little editorial independence and supporting Trump’s agenda (including his war on the press). But this support lasted as long as Trump’s agenda aligned with Bannon’s: Breitbart did not shy away from attacking Kushner, who is a White House senior adviser, to defend Bannon. With Bannon out, it seems like Breitbart will hold no punches in a war against a White House it now perceives as controlled by globalists.

    The right-wing media landscape is about to shift once more, putting the Bannon-loyalists, nationalist ideologues, and opportunistic trolls in a war against an establishment Republican Party faction they think is being led by Pence and, likely, Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO of Fox News and owner of the Wall Street Journal. It remains to be seen whether Trump and his White House will be caught in the middle.

  • Pro-Trump internet personalities throw tantrums after ADL identifies their hateful rhetoric

    Blog ››› ››› JARED HOLT


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Pro-Trump internet trolls claimed that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) was a "terrorist organization" and compared the group to Nazis after ADL identified some of the biggest online personalities of the “alt-right” and “alt-lite” movements and called them out for spreading hateful rhetoric.

    The ADL recently published a list of “alt-right” and “alt-lite” figures, identifying key players in both the white supremacist “alt-right” and the fringe right-wing media landscape of media trolls and smear merchants it inspired, which the ADL called the “alt-lite.” It included internet troll and Infowars contributor Mike Cernovich; smear merchant Jack Posobiec, who once received a temporary White House press pass; disgraced Breitbart provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos; The Gateway Pundit’s Lucian Wintrich; and Rebel Media’s Gavin McInnes, using the “alt-lite” banner to describe their prior affiliation and promotion of “alt-right” figures and ideologies. In a Periscope live stream, Cernovich responded to the list’s publication by urging his followers to spread the hashtag “#ADLTerror” on Twitter. Cernovich also called ADL “a terrorist organization” that had “targeted” him and his family for “murder and assassination” by including his name in the list.

    Soon after Cernovich launched the hashtag, other alternative media personalities who were also mentioned in the ADL’s list rallied to attack the organization. Posobiec compared ADL’s members to Nazis and claimed the “death list” was being used to target Trump supporters; Wintrich called the ADL a “liberal terrorist organization” whose “only qualifier” to label people a hate group leader was support for Trump; Yiannopoulos accused the ADL of trying to get pro-Trump media figures like himself “hurt or killed by painting targets on our backs”; McInnes threatened to “sue the living shit out of everyone even remotely involved” with the list if he was attacked following its publication.

    Allies and supporters of those on the ADL’s list also joined in on the attack. The Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft accused the ADL of publishing “a murder hit list” and stated that his website would take “further action” against the organization if it did not remove Wintrich’s name. Rebel Media’s Laura Loomer decried the ADL’s decision to publish a “hit list,” asking why the organization is “encouraging violent leftists to attack members of the right.” And “Ali,” a rising star among pro-Trump media personalities, also promoted the hashtag. Fans of these personalities created memes and videos and spread them on social media to show their support.

    While BuzzFeed technology reporter Charlie Warzel pointed out that the ADL didn't necessarily provide full evidence of the actions that earned these trolls a spot on the list, the ADL was right to include them based on their habits of engaging in hateful rhetoric and online harassment. The organization correctly identified them for using their platforms to spread vitriol and honestly documented their efforts to sanitize their movement’s prior affiliation with “alt-right” circles and differentiate itself from white nationalism.

    Warzel also correctly noted that these trolls are "more of a media arm than an ideological group of any kind." These individuals do not spread hate in the traditional way that has been the modus operandi of the “alt-right” figures also included in the ADL’s list. Rather than organizing community events and advocating for any specific policies, these figures have built a potent anti-liberal media apparatus that can be -- and often is -- mobilized to harass and smear any chosen target-of-the-day.

    Over the past several months, these right-wing media personalities and pro-Trump internet trolls have fueled and engaged in harassment and doxing campaigns against a variety of people. They misquoted pop star Ariana Grande after a terrorist attack at her concert in Manchester, smearing her as “anti-American.” CNN reporter Andrew Kaczynski’s family received dozens of threatening phone calls following an article he wrote about the origin of an anti-CNN meme Trump tweeted. And the internet trolls falsely accused popular online satirist Vic Berger of being a part of an online cohort of pedophiles. They were also key proponents of the “Great Meme War” with CNN, during which social media sites were flooded with high volumes of anti-CNN memes and numerous CNN employees were doxed and harassed.

    Though these alternative media figures and internet trolls are now rebranding away from the “alt-right” leaders who once inspired them, they still deserve to be on the ADL list and should remain there until they cease using their platforms to incite harassment and encourage extremist rhetoric.

  • Is Breitbart doomed?

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ


    Media Matters / Sarah Wasko

    I guess you either die an edgelord, or you live long enough to see yourself become the cuckservative. That’s the takeaway from the last six months at Breitbart.com, the right-wing website previously led by White House chief strategist Steve Bannon. Breitbart became a conservative media juggernaut by riding the rising tide of the racist, misogynistic “alt-right” and Donald Trump’s bigoted presidential campaign. But amid a massive advertiser boycott and faltering website traffic, the site has been forced to backpedal -- at least somewhat -- from the reputation that was responsible for its popularity in the first place.

    And that’s placed the website in an untenable position between its dwindling fringe-right audience and the advertisers it needs to survive.

    Signs that Breitbart’s editors had become nervous with their public status as “alt-right” champions began appearing as far back as November, when one of the site’s most virulent commentators left, saying the site had become “more controlled.” But the pace of cosmetic change quickened after progressive activists began destroying the site’s business model by urging advertisers to abandon it.

    The Washington Post outlines four such changes: the removal of Breitbart staffers Milo Yiannopoulos and Katie McHugh, who departed amid media firestorms over their commentary; the elimination of the website’s regular spotlight on purported instances of “black crime”; and the delay of a planned expansion to France and Germany.

    Putting aside the European expansion, which is less about addressing vulnerabilities than simply struggling to move forward, these efforts fall into two categories -- staffing and content. In each case, Breitbart’s interests in attracting traffic and retaining advertisers are at cross purposes, leaving the website vulnerable to its competitors.

    Breitbart was happy to attract traffic from bigots with articles such as “Five Devastating Facts About Black-On-Black Crime” and “Black-On-Black Crime: Blame It On The System And Ignore The Evidence.” But this sort of content is racist on its face, and as Breitbart’s profile rose, being associated with naked bigotry became untenable for the site’s advertisers. Breitbart likely pulled the plug on this sort of content to assuage the advertisers, but at the cost of opening the site up to the critique that it had knelt at the altar of “political correctness.”

    Likewise, when media attention settled on Yiannopoulos and McHugh, their histories of bigoted commentary made them radioactive to advertisers. But each had a strong individual fan base and close ties to the “alt-right” network because of that very virulence, which had previously made them valuable assets to Breitbart by building the website’s audience.

    As the site has sought to downplay its relationship with the “alt-right” and the fringe, commentators from those movements saw weakness and began attacking Breitbart for turning its back on its fans and supposedly becoming mainstream. In recent months, this far-right alternative media echo chamber has gained an increasingly large audience by presenting its adherents as completely dedicated to President Donald Trump and as savage foes of “political correctness” and “SJWs” -- in other words, by trying to out-Breitbart Breitbart.

    This dynamic came to a head on Monday when Breitbart fired McHugh after she responded to the London Bridge terror attack by tweeting that "there would be no deadly terror attacks in the U.K. if Muslims didn't live there” and attacked a critic’s perceived ethnicity. The far-right immediately rallied around McHugh and lashed out at her former employer, with leading fringe figures declaring that the website had given in to “political correctness,” castigating the site for supposedly seeking “to try to pivot to the mainstream,” and declaring that “Breitbart is over.”

    None of this is to say that Breitbart has suddenly become a beacon of moderation. Yiannopoulos spent years promoting bigotry with the site’s full approval before he apparently crossed the line. McHugh didn’t suddenly start tweeting racist things over the weekend -- she first drew attention for this behavior in September 2015. Asked about her racist tweets in March 2016, current Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow replied, “We’re considering giving Katie a weekly column.”

    And while “black crime” reporting seems to have died away, Breitbart still regularly publishes the same type of anti-Muslim commentary that got McHugh fired, and continues to employ white nationalist reporters with long records of racism who have yet to experience a media flashpoint.

    If the site’s leaders were cleaning house, they would clean house. Instead, they’re taking steps to minimize advertiser blowback when public attention is focused on their staffers’ awful behavior. The day after McHugh was fired, Digiday reported that Breitbart had lost nearly 90 percent of its advertisers over the previous three months, along with seeing a steep decline in traffic.

    Those simultaneous crises have put the website in a precarious position. If its editors can’t demonstrate a drastic change in behavior, there’s no chance their advertisers will return. But if they do try to become more mainstream, the site will come under fire from other members of the alternative media echo chamber who want to carve off some of Breitbart’s audience.  

    This dynamic has been a part of the right-wing media for years. There is constant pressure for commentators to push the envelope and become ever more extreme, accusing liberals of dire behavior to indulge the worst pathologies of their audience. During the Obama administration, right-wing media figures faced a series of decision points where they could either choose to enable the conservative movement's increasingly destructive behavior, or speak out and put their standing with that movement in jeopardy. Trump’s campaign, with all its bigotry and authoritarianism, held a mirror up to that system. Some of its members were horrified and decried what they had built, while others stood by the future president and attacked those “NeverTrumpers,” in part to steal their audiences.

    Indeed, Breitbart itself used these tactics against Fox News during the 2016 election, building up its own massive audience in part by lashing out at the network for being insufficiently loyal to Trump. Fox responded to that pressure, and its commentators have largely avoided attacks from the right during the Trump administration by emerging as the president’s most devoted propagandists.

    Now Breitbart is under the same pressure, and there’s nowhere for it to go without risking its financial security.

  • A Look At The Incestuous Alternative-Media Echo Chamber Winning Over Online Audiences

    Blog ››› ››› JARED HOLT

    On the coattails of President Donald Trump’s successful election campaign and an anti-"political correctness" wave, an alternative right-wing media echo chamber successfully reverberated itself into virtual relevance on social media, where it now reaches millions of people every day. This new-media ecosystem exists outside of traditional newspapers and cable news networks, instead taking to social sites like Facebook, Twitter, Periscope, Reddit, and YouTube to promote its far-right nationalist politics and conspiracy-laden worldviews to an audience it has isolated and now dominates as its preferred news source.

    Key players in this circular far-right alt-media echo chamber, such as online troll Mike Cernovich and Infowars’ Alex Jones, have successfully crafted a false impression of credibility. They have synthesized a “new right” echo chamber from “alt-right” ideologies and orchestrated a media machine that disseminates content across multiple media platforms with extreme efficiency.

    Key voices in this ecosystem often work a redundant media circuit across allied platforms to reinforce each other’s worldviews and concepts of reality, cast doubt on mainstream media, and suggest widespread conspiracies along the way. Cernovich demonstrated this tactic as he circulated a faux scandal story that suggested Susan Rice, who served as national security adviser to former President Barack Obama, was responsible for improper unmasking of Trump officials caught in surveillance of foreign officials.

    Cernovich toured the Rice story around the alternative media sphere he occupies until it eventually broke into mainstream media. On April 2, Cernovich first tweeted the “breaking news” that Rice had ordered the unmasking. Later that day, Cernovich published his full story about the explosive allegations. On April 3, Cernovich promoted the story in a livestream broadcast to his tens of thousands of Periscope followers. The same day, “alt-right” thought leader Richard Spencer publicly slammed Cernovich in his own broadcast, granting the story a direct platform into the "alt-right" fanbase. On April 4, Cernovich took his story through the alternative media circuit, appearing on Infowars and Free Domain Radio and earning shoutouts from Stefan Molyneux, Lee Stranahan, and Donald Trump Jr. After riding the wave, Cernovich continued his self-promotion in a Reddit AMA thread and a post-story interview with Rebel Media.

    Members of the echo chamber attract and maintain a fan base by developing an abusive relationship with their audience members -- a process they label “redpilling.” They gaslight their audiences until readers and viewers feel unable to trust any media other than those particular outlets to deliver them “the truth.” As a result, these new-media companies have groomed rabid fan bases that turn to them as beacons of honesty in a media world that they believe is orchestrated to distract the public from this echo chamber’s version of “the truth.”

    Many media outlets disregard this new-media echo chamber, continuing to speak about the movement with the same blanket terms and condescension they used before the so-called “new right” distanced itself from “alt-right” leaders. But now, months later, this far-right alternative media apparatus is encroaching on its mainstream competition online. For example, Infowars recently surpassed CNN in its number of subscribers on YouTube, which marked a major milestone in far-right alternative media's encroachment on the video site’s news ecosystem.

    According to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in early 2016, about half of people age 49 and under said they get their news online. And as cable news viewership declines and as Americans’ trust in news media sinks to an all-time low, alternative new-media stars have leveraged a unique opportunity to redefine right-wing media and reach mass audiences once loyal to established journalism outlets. The alternative media ecosystem has also benefited from attention from top government officials and those close to them; presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway recently elevated Cernovich on Twitter, Donald Trump Jr. pushed an Infowars conspiracy theory, and Michael Flynn Jr., the son of Trump’s former national security advisor, has promoted Infowars and conspiracy theories like “Pizzagate” sourced from the alternative media sphere.

    Graphics by Sarah Wasko

  • The “New Right,” Brought To You By Former Allies Of The “Alt-Right”

    Blog ››› ››› JARED HOLT

    Online personality Mike Cernovich fabricated the existence of a “new right” movement to downplay his active relationships with “alt-right” media personalities and white nationalist thought leaders. But like the nonsense diet supplements and self-help books that Cernovich hawks to his audience, the “new right” should be treated for what it is: a load of marketing bullshit.

    The truth is that although Cernovich and his media pals will claim they don’t advocate white nationalism in the same way that “alt-right” leaders like Richard Spencer do, the so-called “new right” has actively parroted the “alt-right” to build its brands. It is a mistake to give the “new right” a chance to disown the relationships that helped it blossom.

    Cernovich coined the term “new right” last year after he banned “alt-right” media personality Tim Treadstone, known online as Baked Alaska, from attending an inauguration party Treadstone had assisted Cernovich in planning called “The Deploraball.” Treadstone had published several tweets about the “Jewish Question” -- an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that suggests Jewish people scheme to dominate global media and governments. Cernovich replaced Treadstone with equally terrible “alt-right” personality Milo Yiannopoulos, who had been banned from Twitter for inciting a racially motivated harassment campaign and was later disinvited from the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) after a video surfaced in which he appears to condone pedophilia. The drama fractured the “alt-right” media landscape into factions, with some hoping to rebrand and distance themselves from the openly white nationalist fan base they had used to inspire their brands.

    After uninviting Treadstone, Cernovich introduced the concept of the “new right” in an interview with Paul Joseph Watson, editor-at-large of the conspiracy theory website Infowars, denouncing white supremacist messages spread by some members of the “alt-right." After the interview, Watson also peddled the concept of a “new right” to his fan base on social media, claiming that “there are two ‘Alt-Rights’” and that one faction is “more accurately described as the New Right.” Watson claimed the “new right” includes people who wear Trump hats, “create memes [and] have fun.” This group, he wrote, is entirely separate from “a tiny fringe minority” of people under the “alt-right” banner who “obsess about Jews, racial superiority and Adolf Hitler.”

    The public relations move worked, and soon many other notable pro-Trump new-media personalities were clustered under the “new right” brand coined by Cernovich. They included Vox Day, who wrote a manifesto on what it means to be “alt-right” that claimed “diversity + proximity = war”; “alt-right” poster boy Milo Yiannopoulos, who praised the group's membership; The Gateway Pundit’s Lucian Wintrich, who made an “alt-right” hand signal in the White House briefing room; and blogger Stefan Molyneux, who receives wide praise among white nationalist groups.

    Cernovich told The Atlantic that he “for sure” pictured himself as the leader of the “new right” and that he and his media partners “want to do nationalism without white identity politics.” Cernovich explained to New York magazine that his initial support for the “alt-right” was based on a misunderstanding: He “didn’t realize it was, like, a white, ethno-nationalist thing.” Right Side Broadcast Network (RSBN), which hired Cernovich to host a program on the pro-Trump news stream, defended Cernovich and allowed him to whitewash his track record of vile statements.

    But Cernovich and his new-media allies openly pandered to a growing pro-Trump “alt-right” media audience during the 2016 election by publishing media meant to promote fear of Muslims and pieces that attacked “social justice warriors” and others who speak out against the sexist, misogynistic, and racist rhetoric Cernovich and other “alt-right” personalities spew. Cernovich also once announced that his next project would be “part alt-right, part fitness, part anti-cuck,” and he has praised the “alt-right” movement as “sophisticated, suspicious, and combative” and declared it “woke.” The ignorance defense the “new right” is using is soiled by these figures’ year-long track record of employing such rhetoric to bolster one another's public profiles.

    Cernovich and his new-media allies are snake oil salesmen who adopt whatever controversial punditry will earn them publicity and let them promote their bogus products. For example, Cernovich uses his platform to sell copies of his self-help book for men and promote his in-development “experimental nootropic” pills that he claimed will regrow neurons inside the brain and build a “supercharged mind” that most people can’t handle.

    The “new right” is nothing more than a shallow attempt to legitimize commentary that draws upon the “alt-right” philosophy, which has been used to promote conspiracy theories like the “Pizzagate” claim that top Democratic officials were complicit in a Washington, D.C., child sex-trafficking ring run out of a pizza restaurant. Media should not grant Cernovich and his colleagues a free pass to abandon the “alt-right” talking points that they used to force themselves into media relevancy in the first place.

  • Anonymous Message Boards Enable Illegal Activities And Politically Motivated Harassment Every Day

    Cases Of Online Harassment Against Celebrities And Members Of The Armed Forces Get Widely Reported, But They’re Just One Part Of Online Abuse

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    Online message boards that allow anonymous posting -- including 4chan, 8chan, Reddit, and AnonIB -- tend to make headlines mainly when users illegally share private photos of high-profile women. But such photo sharing is just part of the relentless abuse that these sites constantly allow and enable.

    On a daily basis, users of these message boards target women, people of color, activists, members of the media, and vulnerable communities like undocumented immigrants by orchestrating online harassment campaigns, which can involve illegal activities like hacking and publishing personal information and images. The sites are often also the origin of unsubstantiated speculation, which can make its way to fake news purveyors and hyperpartisan blogs that push misinformation, sometimes causing dangerous real-life consequences.

    The actor Emma Watson was one of the victims of a recent illegal photo-sharing scandal, in which alleged personal photos were widely circulated on Reddit and 4chan. Weeks before, reports had revealed that members of the armed forces were involved in sharing “nude photographs of women, including fellow Marines -- some taken without their knowledge” through the anonymous posting site AnonIB, which was also implicated in the publication of hacked personal photos of a number of celebrities, including Jennifer Lawrence, in 2014.

    The cases involving celebrities and members of prominent military institutions are widely reported, but their treatment is just one part of the picture. These sites enable victimization of other individuals on a daily basis -- often as part of orchestrated and politically motivated harassment campaigns. Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter David Cay Johnston was the victim of doxxing -- the publication of personal information like phone numbers and addresses with the intent of enabling intimidation and harassment -- on 8chan following his reporting on President Donald Trump’s 2005 tax documents. Anonymous users on 4chan organized an effort to target undocumented immigrants, encouraging others to trick Twitter users into outing themselves as undocumented so they could “report” them to the authorities for deportation. Muslim activist Linda Sarsour, who has been repeatedly defamed on these sites, was recently smeared on 4chan as an “Islamist using the flag of feminism to subvert western women and entice them into supporting sharia law.”

    The forums have also been at the epicenter of unsubstantiated speculation that has been weaponized by fake news purveyors, in some cases with dangerous real-life consequences and negative impact on real people.

    While women aren't the only victims, misogyny is perniciously at the center of many of the posts on these forums. As reported by Gawker, message boards like 4chan, 8chan -- which was launched as a response to perceived censorship on 4chan and became a similar, but more anarchic, platform -- and AnonIB serve as a sanctuary where “angry, anonymous young men can dance out their anger against women”:

    On 8chan, Gamergate supporters battle against raging feminists and "social justice warriors." Like horny, teenaged Rush Limbaughs, they lament the media's penchant for "blaming whites for all its problems" and adorn unrelated posts with images of balloon-chested anime babes.

    [...]

    "Are women humans?" reads one image macro, posted in defiant response to a user who confessed sympathy for the victims of pick-up artists. The answer, obviously, is no. Another, particularly disgusting post proposes that "the real reason women hate rape" is that it "ignores their princess status."

    [...]

    On 4chan and 8chan, one could theoretically log on and have a real dialogue about music, sports, or any number of other topics. AnonIB harbors no such pretenses. Users of the anonymous image-sharing board—whose name literally means "anonymous image board"—want just one thing: to jerk off to stolen pictures of naked women.

    [...]

    Like 8chan, AnonIB started life after a 4chan rebellion. Back in 2006, after an incomprehensible series of events (see the Encyclopedia Dramatica entry on "/b/-day" if you'd like to give it a shot), Christopher Poole announced that posting child porn, "jailbait," or personal information on 4chan would henceforth result in consequences for the users involved. The horror! Just as they did this year, users left the site in droves, and AnonIB was there to scoop them up. As Encyclopedia Dramatica puts it, it was "the final cesspool for all of the shit generated by 4chan and its rivals."

    Over the following years, the site underwent a number of changes before emerging in its current, nude-centric permutation. Now that the flow of stolen pictures of naked famous women has slowed to a trickle, users are back to doing what they did before Celebgate: posting stolen photos of naked non-famous women.

    For many men, this misogyny has become a “gateway drug” into the so-called “alt-right,” a self-designated name for a faction of the white nationalist movement. As New York magazine’s Claire Landsbaum wrote, the ideology of men’s rights activists is “leaking into the teachings of … the alt-right.” Milo Yiannopoulos, who was until recently an editor for Breitbart.com, a "platform for the alt-right,” was behind Gamergate in 2014, which The New Yorker characterized as “a vicious campaign against feminists in the video-game industry.” In 2016, Yiannopoulos was banned from Twitter after he led a harassment campaign against black actor Leslie Jones for her role in the female-led reboot of the movie GhostbustersMembers of the “alt-right” have used these anonymous forums to hijack a number of cultural conversations with the purpose of marginalizing women, and the “alt-right” has infused the message boards with white supremacy, promoting a white- and male-centric cultural identity.

    The reality is, with their lax oversight for illegal content, these boards are enabling and promoting abuse, often politically motivated, defended as “free speech” by its perpetrators, on a daily basis -- whether or not it's on the front page of the news.

    Graphic by Dayanita Ramesh

  • NBC Nightly News Thinks Kicking Out One White Nationalist Absolves CPAC's Promotion Of The "Alt-Right"

    Blog ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET


    NBC Nightly News
    ’ White House correspondent Hallie Jackson whitewashed CPAC’s promotion of “alt-right” nationalism by uncritically reporting that CPAC attempted to distance itself from white nationalist Richard Spencer, ignoring CPACs speaking invitations to “alt-right” provocateurs Steve Bannon and Milo Yiannopoulos.

    In a February 23 report, Jackson described Stephen Bannon as “the power behind the populist brand” promoted by President Trump and argued that CPAC was filled with “talk of economic nationalism” by Bannon and other CPAC speakers. Jackson claimed that CPAC had “no tolerance for a different kind of nationalism … the white nationalism popularized by Richard Spencer, who was kicked out today”:

    LESTER HOLT (HOST): Just outside the nation's capitol, members of the Trump administration dominated the stage at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, ahead of the president's appearance tomorrow. On stage today, a rare public appearance by Steve Bannon, the architect of the Trump campaign, who has quietly worked behind the scenes as the president’s chief strategist. Today, however, he spoke out. NBC News White House correspondent Hallie Jackson has details.

    HALLIE JACKSON: Today, a Trump team take over at a conservative conference, and stepping out of shadows of the West Wing, one of the president's most trusted advisors in a rare public appearance.

    STEPHEN BANNON: I want to thank you for finally inviting me to CPAC. JACKSON: That's controversial chief strategist Steve Bannon, the power behind the populist brand that propelled Donald Trump to victory.

    [...]

    JACKSON: For all the talk of economic nationalism on stage, no tolerance for a different kind of nationalism off it, the white nationalism popularized by Richard Spencer, who was kicked out today. CPAC organizers explicitly denouncing the fringe movement he helps lead.

    DAN SCHNEIDER: They are anti-semites, they are racists, they are sexists. They are not an extension of the conservatism. 

    But CPAC was filled with far right zealots who have promoted “alt-right” ideology. Steve Bannon, the former executive chair for Breitbart.com, had a prominent speech at the conference despite Breitbart’s history of promoting white-nationalists. Bannon even said during his time as executive chair that Breitbart.com had become “the platform for the alt-right” under his leadership.

    CPAC also invited former Breitbart.com editor Milo Yiannopoulos as a keynote speaker at the conference, before disinviting Yiannopoulos when videos emerged showing Yiannopoulos justifying the sexual abuse of a minor by an adult. Yiannopoulos himself described Richard Spencer and other white nationalists as “dangerously bright,” and ACU's Matt Schlapp promoted Yiannopoulos’ keynote speech by tweeting “We think free speech includes hearing Milo’s important perspective.”

  • Don't Be Fooled By Milo Yiannopoulos' Latest Doe-Eyed Act. It's Hollow. Here's The Proof.

    The Former Breitbart Editor Has Used His Platform To Mock And Attack Sexual Assault Survivors For Years

    Blog ››› ››› ERIN FITZGERALD

    Former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos revealed that he was a survivor of child sexual abuse during a press conference held to address the controversy that erupted after a video surfaced of him “condoning pedophilia.” Yiannopoulos apologized for his words (though with several caveats) and offered an olive branch by promising to donate a percentage of his book’s royalties to charities supporting survivors of child sexual abuse. The cornerstone of his apology is based on a shared understanding that survivors are to be trusted. This is an understanding that he has not just derided, but gleefully denied other survivors of assault. Yiannopolous has built his career as a self-appointed arbiter of rape culture, which includes deciding who are worthy victims, who were malicious perpetrators, and whether or not such a culture even exists.  

    After the video circulated, the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) revoked Yiannopoulos’ speaking invitation, Simon and Schuster canceled his book deal, and Yiannopoulos resigned from his role at Breitbart. During prepared remarks on February 21, he announced his resignation and expressed regret for some, but not all, of his comments on sexual assault. Hedging his apology with an attack on the media, he called the circulation of the video and ensuing outcry “a cynical media witch hunt” aimed at “destroying” him and his career.

    Yiannopoulos also came out as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, citing this history as the reason for his “usual blend of British sarcasm, provocation and gallows humor.” He also said he was “horrified” that his videotaped comments may have been perceived as “advocacy” for pedophilia or “a lack of care for other victims.” Yiannopoulos continued:

    I will not apologize for dealing with my life experiences in the best way that I can, which is humor. No one can tell me or anyone else who has lived through sexual abuse how to deal with those emotions.

    But I am sorry to other abuse victims if my own personal way of dealing with what happened to me has hurt you.

    At the press conference, Yiannopoulos presented a public persona that was not in line with the values that he’s espoused for so long. Rather, he’s devoted a serious body of work to attacking survivors of sexual assault, attempting to function as an arbiter of who counts as a “victim” and who can -- or cannot -- be labeled a “perpetrator”. He has repeatedly denied that rape and sexual assault are major problems in the U.S., while summarily casting Muslims as the “real” perpetrators of rape culture. He's also peddled the dangerous, debunked myth that transgender people will commit sexual assault if given access to the appropriate facilities. Yiannopoulos has expressed a fondness for rape jokes and has made victims of sexual abuse the butt of his jokes, mocking “little boys” for “complaining” about clerical sexual abuse. Yiannopoulos has gleefully employed the term “slut’s remorse” when speaking about sexual assault allegations -- arguing that such allegations are often motivated by the accuser’s “self-loathing,” “spitefulness,” and “malice.” Yiannopoulos has also advocated for the right to anonymity for those accused of assault under this warped line of reasoning.

    Yiannopoulos has asserted that measures colleges have taken to raise awareness of and combat the shockingly high rate of sexual assault reported by campus women are a result of “a long-smouldering, insidious force” that “has nearly destroyed an otherwise pleasant and fun-filled relationship between the genders on campus.” He said that campaign was perpetuated by feminists with an “insane, irrational fear of men,” and he urged male students not to go to “consent classes,” cautioning that awareness and prevention measures will ultimately result in the criminalization of “ordinary male behaviour.” Most recently, Yiannopoulos urged the Trump administration to roll back sexual assault and harassment protections that were strengthened and clarified in a 2011 memo issued by the U.S. Department of Education.

    As part of his mea culpa, Yiannopoulos claimed that he would be donating 10 percent of the royalties from his (now nonexistent) book deal to charities for survivors of child sexual abuse. His last charitable endeavor spurred allegations that the funds had been embezzled rather than distributed. Considering his penchant for not delivering on promises of charity, it seems unlikely that any worthy group will ever see a cent from Yiannopoulos. Don't be fooled by the somber public performance at Yiannopolous' press conference, this is not the persona he's promoted and profited from over the last several years and he is certainly no champion of rights for survivors of sexual assault. 

  • CPAC Got Rid Of Milo, But Not The Rest Of Their Bigoted Lineup

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) has rescinded the speaking offer its leadership made to former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos, who has a history of bigotry, following the circulation of a video in which Yiannopoulos appeared to endorse pedophilia. Yet Yiannopoulos isn’t the only person scheduled to speak at the 2017 CPAC who has a history of making offensive remarks; the conference’s roster is full of speakers who push xenophobic or otherwise discriminatory agendas and action and buy into conspiracy theories.

  • Here Are Some Of The Worst Headlines Milo Yiannopoulos Published Attacking Rape Survivors

    Blog ››› ››› ERIN FITZGERALD

    Just two days after news broke that Breitbart.com’s senior editor Milo Yiannopoulos would speak at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the conference’s hosts have rescinded his speaking invitation after a video circulated of Yiannopoulos “condoning pedophilia.” Over the next few days, Simon & Schuster canceled Yiannopoulos’ book deal, and Yiannopoulos resigned from his position at Breitbart. Though Yiannopoulos claimed he felt regret over his “poor choice of words,” his prior Breitbart headlines clearly display Milo’s long-standing history of attacking and mocking survivors of sexual assault, as well as denying the existence of rape culture. Here are Milo’s worst headlines:


    [Breitbart.com, 10/16/15]

    [Breitbart.com, 8/27/14]

    [Breitbart.com, 10/30/16]

    [Breitbart.com, 1/6/16]

    [Breitbart.com, 10/7/16]

    [Breitbart.com, 6/23/14]

    [Breitbart.com, 10/12/16]

    [Breitbart.com, 7/16/15]

  • Milo Yiannopoulos Resigns From Breitbart

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Breitbart.com editor Milo Yiannopoulos announced Tuesday that he has resigned from the right-wing website following the emergence of a video in which Yiannopoulos apparently justified sexual abuse of a minor by an adult.

    “I would be wrong to allow my poor choice of words to detract from my colleagues’ important reporting, so today I am resigning from Breitbart, effective immediately. This decision is mine alone,” he said in a statement.

    Yiannopoulos, who has a long and well-known history of making virulent attacks against women, people of color, Muslims, and the transgender community, and is a key enabler of the “alt-right,” was hired by Breitbart when the site was run by Stephen Bannon, now White House chief strategist.

    But it took the circulation of the video for him to finally become too toxic for the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), which rescinded its invitation for him to speak; Simon & Schuster, which pulled his book deal; and Breitbart, where employees were reportedly threatening to bolt if he was retained.

    As Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, which runs CPAC, suggested, Yiannopoulos’ past comments were simply “controversies and disagreements among conservatives,” while “there is no disagreement among our attendees on the evils of sexual abuse of children.”

    Yiannopoulos has fans at the very highest levels of the federal government. “Bannon believes in Milo,” the site’s editor-in-chief, Alexander Marlow, reportedly told The Washington Post earlier this month. “He dedicated time and resources – both personally and with his businesses – to expanding Milo’s brand.” Earlier this month, President Donald Trump attacked the University of California, Berkeley and threatened to withdraw federal funds from the university after it canceled an event featuring the Breitbart editor.

    Earlier today, Marlow called the comments in the video “very troubling and upsetting” and “not defensible” and said Yiannopoulos would address “his future with Breitbart” during a press conference this afternoon.

    Marlow also laid the groundwork for turning Yiannopoulos into a martyr, saying that there are “millions of examples of the left normalizing behavior similar to what Milo describes” and that Yiannopoulos is the victim of a “coordinated hit” by liberals and anti-Trump conservatives. During his press conference, Yiannopoulos likewise said that “this is a cynical media witchhunt from people who don’t care about children. They care about destroying me and my career.” He also promised to announce his own media venture and new college speaking tour dates in the coming months.

    As I noted this morning, given that Breitbart is a sewer with no standards, Yiannopoulos leaving would "suggest that the website, amid a major advertiser boycott, has finally found a limit to the bad press it is willing to tolerate from one of its biggest stars. No matter what, Marlow wants to keep Yiannopoulos’ audience from leaving the website. Keeping Yiannopoulos is the best way to do that, but if that’s no longer financially viable, turning him into a martyr is the next best strategy."

  • Breitbart Editor-In-Chief Prepares To Turn Milo Yiannopoulos Into A Martyr

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Breitbart.com Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow is laying the groundwork to blame editor Milo Yiannopoulos’ critics following the emergence of a video in which Yiannopoulos apparently justified sexual abuse of a minor by an adult. According to Marlow, there are “millions of examples of the left normalizing behavior similar to what Milo describes,” and Yiannopoulos is the victim of a “coordinated hit” by liberals and anti-Trump conservatives.

    The Conservative Political Action Conference rescinded Yiannopoulos’ speaking invitation and Simon & Schuster canceled the publication of his book after video circulated of Yiannopoulos “condoning pedophilia.” Yiannopoulos’ long and well-known history of making virulent attacks against women, people of color, Muslims, and the transgender community, and his role as a key enabler of the “alt-right,” were not sufficient to stop him from receiving that invitation and book contract in the first place

    In an appearance this morning on the Breitbart News Daily show on SiriusXM, Marlow called the comments in the video “very troubling and upsetting” and “not defensible” and said Yiannopoulos would address “his future with Breitbart” during a press conference this afternoon. “You will get some answers today, just not right this second,” he promised his audience.

    Marlow described the video as “a total surprise to people in the Breitbart organization” and repeatedly condemned the comments, but also offered what he termed important “context” for Yiannopoulos’ remarks. This included assuring the Breitbart audience that Yiannopoulos says he himself has not sexually abused minors.

    Marlow, whose website supported Donald Trump during the presidential campaign even after audio emerged of him bragging about sexually assaulting women, then attacked liberals for “normalizing behavior similar to what Milo describes”:

    We have many examples on the left who have admitted to statutory rape. We have Lena Dunham had in her book talking about touching her sister’s private parts as a child. We have Roman Polanski, I mean, there are millions of examples of the left normalizing behavior similar to what Milo describes. There is no evidence that Milo has actually been a predator, and so I do think that that is also very important context.

    He went on to suggest that the real villains are the people who released audio of his employee apparently defending the sexual assault of minors, saying, “It does look like the forces of the left and some of the Republican establishment and of the sort of Never Trump movement, perhaps, seems to be growing evidence that this was all coordinated to wait for a peak moment when Milo was red-hot.” He added, “They sat on the story and they held it for maximum political damage, which is really sort of sickening, that they would keep this from the public if they had it, and instead try to wait until they could do the most damage to his career, and to Breitbart, and by proxy, people like Trump and [Stephen] Bannon.”

    It’s hard to parse Marlow’s comments. It is possible Yiannopoulos will use his press conference to resign from Breitbart. That would suggest that the website, amid a major advertiser boycott, has finally found a limit to the bad press it is willing to tolerate from one of its biggest stars.

    No matter what, Marlow wants to keep Yiannopoulos’ audience from leaving the website. Keeping Yiannopoulos is the best way to do that, but if that’s no longer financially viable, turning him into a martyr is the next best strategy. 

  • CPAC, Simon & Schuster Learn The Same Old Lesson: Breitbart Is A Sewer

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    With its former chief, Steve Bannon, now wielding power inside the Trump White House, Breitbart in recent days has been collecting a string of symbolic Beltway trophies.

    Last week, a reporter for the far-right site was seated in the front row, alongside Reuters and The Associated Press, for the White House press briefing with President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

    Earlier this month, Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos bragged that he’d be attending a White House press briefing, although he never showed up.

    Bill Maher, host of HBO’s Real Time, invited Yiannopoulos on as a guest last Friday, and the two men “got along famously,” according to The Washington Post. That’s the same Yiannopoulos who has called transgender people “mentally ill” and “retarded,” announced that “there is only one place for lesbians: porn,” and claimed that “feminism is a bowel cancer.”

    Previously banned from Twitter for inciting a harassment campaign targeting black actress Leslie Jones, Yiannopoulos found a safe haven on Maher’s show. “There was little conflict or cross-examination,” noted The New York Times.

    The following day, the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) jumped on Yiannopoulos’ hate rhetoric bandwagon, inviting him to speak at the annual gathering. The move seemed to further mainstream the “alt-right” movement and its white nationalist fan base within the Republican Party.

    Meanwhile, scroll back to last December, when publishing giant Simon & Schuster signed off on a Yiannopoulos book deal reportedly worth $250,000. (“They offered me a wheelbarrow full of money,” the Breitbart editor bragged.)

    The deal was widely denounced in the publishing world. “He’s a clickbait grifter who has made a name for himself spewing hate speech,” wrote Adam Morgan, editor-in-chief of the Chicago Review of Books.

    But Simon & Schuster stood proudly by its new author and defended the generous book contract, even suggesting it was taking a noble stand in the name of free speech.

    That was before tapes resurfaced this weekend “in which Yiannopoulos appears to defend pedophilia.”

    Today, as controversy swarms around Yiannopoulos over his shocking comments, who now has the biggest regrets about reaching out to the Breitbart editor in an effort to normalize his dangerous crusade? Simon & Schuster, CPAC, or Maher?

    All of them are learning the same valuable lessons: 1) Intellectually, Breitbart is an infested sewer, and it always has been. And 2) Lots of journalists and mainstream organizations that try to embrace or legitimize the site and its rancid rhetoric inevitably come to regret it.

    They regret being associated with such purposefully offensive people and likely wish somebody had stopped them before they tried to brandish the Breitbart name for their own short-terms gains. Specifically, the regrets now revolve around “alt-right” mob leader Yiannopoulos, who appeals to rotten white nationalism.

    As Media Matters noted in the wake of the latest Milo comments, the obvious warning signs surrounding the Breitbart editor have been flashing for a very long time

    It’s not a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to the “alt-right” white nationalist movement Breitbart has supported that Yiannopoulos repeatedly frames targeted harassment campaigns of transgender individuals, black women, and undocumented students as some disgusting testament to his own conveniently warped understanding of the First Amendment.

    In terms of regrets, it’s now likely a toss-up between Simon & Schuster and CPAC, but I’m guessing it’s the leaders of the annual conservative conference who, at least privately, are most embarrassed by their harebrained idea to invite Yiannopoulos to be a featured speaker. The move instantly set off criticism from within the conservative movement as journalists expressed dismay at the idea of elevating a bully to the role of a public intellectual.

    Then, in the wake of the CPAC invite, when a conservative-run Twitter account distributed clips of the Yiannopoulos pedophilia comments, the criticism erupted into a deafening uproar of condemnation for the conservative organization, much of it voiced by conservatives themselves.   

    For its misguided attempts to normalize targeted bullying and to try to feed off the “alt-right” harassment movement for political and commercial gains, CPAC, at least temporarily, became synonymous with an apparent defense of pedophilia. (The leadership later pulled the invite.)

    Meanwhile, Simon & Schuster looks equally foolish for allowing its conservative imprint, Threshold Edition, to embrace Yiannopoulos in hopes of cashing in on his hate rhetoric. (Over the weekend, the publisher canceled the book deal.) Keep in mind that the Breitbart editor’s ugly history was hiding in plain sight prior to the six-figure book deal. Meaning, people in positions of power should have known better.

    From last December:

    On Monday night, pop right-wing agitator Milo Yiannopoulos, who lost his Twitter access earlier this year after one too many online insults against women and minorities, was on the campus of Miami University in Ohio, scheduled to talk about “PIZZAGATE: The deep Dish on Liberalism and Pedophilia.” Half an hour before the speech, he abruptly changed his topic to “On Stabby Muslims, Campus Censors and Daddy’s Transition.”

    That’s who Simon & Schuster chose to publish. That’s who Maher invited on his HBO program for a televised Friday night “bromance.” That’s who the American Conservative Union decided to elevate as a new face of GOP politics in America at CPAC.

    The good news is that a lot of corporations don’t want their brands anywhere near Breitbart or Yiannopoulos.

    As BuzzFeed recently reported, Omnicom, one of the world’s largest ad-buying agencies, “has instructed its staff to pull advertising from pro-Trump website Breitbart on behalf of its biggest clients.” One internal Omicom email referred to Breitbart’s content as being “pretty unpalatable.”

    That’s a good rule of thumb.

  • CPAC’s Chairman Just Condemned The “Alt-Right.” He Will Host Steve Bannon On Thursday.

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, which runs the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, said today that he condemns the “alt-right,” a loose affiliation of white nationalists, misogynists, and other deplorables that have gained increasing influence in the conservative movement. But don’t be too quick to congratulate him for his criticism of racists -- Schlapp will lead a Thursday CPAC panel featuring White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon, who has bragged about turning Breitbart.com into “the platform for the alt-right” during his tenure leading the site.

    The disconnect suggests leading conservatives want to get credit for separating themselves from the “alt-right,” while still drawing on its enablers for support.

    Schlapp made the comments in an interview on MSNBC in which he defended his organization’s initial decision to give Breitbart senior editor Milo Yiannopoulos a platform at CPAC. Last night, Schlapp withdrew the offer after video circulated of Yiannopoulos “condoning pedophilia.”

    Yiannopoulos had a long and well-known history of making virulent attacks against women, people of color, Muslims, and the transgender community, and he is a key enabler of the “alt-right.” None of those factors prevented CPAC from offering him a prominent speaking slot.

    For Schlapp, Yiannopoulos’ past comments were simply “controversies and disagreements among conservatives,” while “there is no disagreement among our attendees on the evils of sexual abuse of children.” This gives the lie to the conservative argument on free speech -- criticism of commentary is just being “politically correct” until the commentary is offensive to conservatives.

    At the end of Schlapp’s interview, Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough asked Schlapp if CPAC had “an official position on the alt-right.” Schlapp came out strong against the movement in response, suggesting that the “alt-right” is racist and while “there are those who flirt with it, who maybe don't fully understand it,” conservatives should want to have “nothing to do with” it. “We won't endorse it and we won't rationalize it,” he concluded.

    Schlapp’s opposition to the “alt-right” is so strong that he’ll be sitting down with Bannon at a CPAC panel on Thursday:

    Bannon, a revanchist ethno-nationalist who supports a “global revolt” against elites, turned Breitbart into a beloved news source and normalization engine for the “alt-right.” He bragged in July that the website had become “the platform for the alt-right.” Because of that work, white nationalists and neo-Nazis cheered when he was hired by Donald Trump's presidential campaign and praised his appointment to the White House.

    While Yiannopoulos will no longer be speaking at CPAC, attendees will have seven other opportunities to hear from Breitbart staffers. Editors and reporters James Delingpole, Joel Pollak, Sonnie Johnson, Raheem Kassam, Alex Marlow, Frances Martel, and John Carney will all give speeches or lead or participate in panel discussions at CPAC, the bastion of the conservative movement that supposedly wants its members to stay away from the “alt-right.”

    Breitbart has a big audience and thus is a power in the conservative movement. As Schlapp explained this morning, Yiannopoulos’ history of virulent commentary didn’t matter because “he is a big voice in this movement.” Until he said something that offended the wrong people, that was enough.