It was high political drama played out over social media.
After video emerged this weekend showing Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos casting sexual relationships between older men and “boys’’ in a positive light, an influential conservative group rescinded its invitation to the right-wing provocateur to speak at its annual gathering this week, and publisher Simon & Schuster dropped plans to publish his book.
Matt Schlapp, American Conservative Union chairman, tweeted a statement Monday disinviting Yiannopoulos from the group’s Conservative Political Action 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,” he wrote.
“We realize that Mr. Yiannopoulos has responded on Facebook, but it is insufficient. It is up to him to answer the tough questions and we urge him to immediately further address these disturbing comments.’’
Yiannopoulos was part of an all-star list of speakers slated to appear at the event, including President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, White House chief strategist and former top Breitbart editor Steve Bannon, and others.
A few hours later Adam Rothberg, a spokesman for Simon & Schuster, tweeted that it had canceled publication of the book. Simon & Schuster had faced significant opposition to its decision to publish the book, including calls for a boycott of the publisher and a decision by writer Roxane Gay to pull an upcoming book in protest.
The publisher said previously it would stand by its decision to issue the book because, while it didn’t necessarily agree with the opinions of all of its authors, it sought to promote a diversity of points of view.
Reports also emerged Monday evening that Yiannopoulos’s future at Breitbart might be in jeopardy. Several staffers told managers that they would leave if Yiannopoulos were allowed to remain, The Washington Post reported.
The Yiannopoulos video was tweeted out Sunday by the Reagan Battalion, a conservative blog. In it Yiannopoulos describes a sexual relationship he had when he was younger with a Catholic priest and he goes on to say: “In the homosexual world particularly, some of those relationships between younger boys and older men — the sort of coming of age relationships in which those older men have helped those young boys to discover who they are.’’
On his Facebook page Yiannopoulos sought to clarify his position. “I do not support pedophilia. Period. It is a vile and disgusting crime, perhaps the very worst. There are selectively edited videos doing the rounds, as part of a coordinated effort to discredit me from establishment Republicans, that suggest I am soft on the subject.
He noted that his own relationship took place when he was 17. The age of consent in the United Kingdom is 16.Paul S. Makishima can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.