Racist Troll Milo Yiannopoulos Lands a Lucrative Book Deal with Publisher in the U.S., But Company Won't Publish It in the UK
Milo Yiannopoulos, a Breitbart News editor popular with the white nationalist "alt-right," landed a lucrative book deal with Simon & Schuster’s Threshold Editions imprint last week for an autobiography tentatively titled Dangerous. While there was considerable outcry against the deal in the U.S., the deal is still in place. But the publisher’s UK division told publishing industry magazine Bookseller Tuesday that the book will not be released in the UK.
Yiannopoulos bragged about how rudely he behaved to the “top execs" and was as surprised as anyone when he landed a reportedly large advance of $250,000, according to the Hollywood Reporter, which broke news of the deal:
“I met with top execs at Simon & Schuster earlier in the year and spent half an hour trying to shock them with lewd jokes and outrageous opinions. I thought they were going to have me escorted from the building—but instead they offered me a wheelbarrow full of money.”
Yiannopoulos has a long history of hateful behavior. He was banned from Twitter in July after using his account to encourage his supporters (more than 300,000 of them, according to the Washington Post) to harass SNL comedian Leslie Jones, one of the stars of the Ghostbusters remake. Jones had to temporarily quit Twitter after being targeted by an onslaught of racist and sexist tweets. Yiannopoulos rallied his supporters against Twitter’s decision to ban him, saying it was “cowardly.” He is still banned, though he has gained a new platform with the book deal.
Simon & Schuster U.S. has issued a statement, according to the Guardian, that it has not “condoned discrimination or hate speech in any form,” but Leslie Jones has called out the publisher on Twitter for helping to “spread…hate to even more people.”
Jones is far from alone in speaking out against the deal. The Chicago Review of Books has said it will refuse to review Simon & Schuster books as a result (though some writers including Kima Jones and Tanya Contois, as well as Vox, have cautioned such a boycott may be too broad, as Simon & Schuster's writers of color would be penalized as well). Writer Danielle Henderson revealed on Twitter that she is prepared to walk out on her existing contract with Simon & Schuster—which is set to publish her memoir Ugly Cry—in protest against Yiannopoulos' deal. And others in the industry, including Emmett Plant, who has produced many "Star Trek" audiobooks for S&S, will follow suit by boycotting S&S or the Threshold Editions imprint specifically.
As the Guardian and Quartz Media pointed out, Threshold has published books by controversial right-wing figures before, including Donald Trump, Rush Limbaugh, Chris Christie, and Glenn Beck. And it's not the only publisher—including the Big 5, independent or somewhere in between—to cash in on the story of someone who encourages racism or hate (and pay an advance for the privilege; see many examples we’ve covered before).
From a publisher’s perspective, Milo Yiannopoulos may be an attractive character in terms of interest and sales (ignoring the much stronger argument for the moral responsibility of all media formats not to reward those who spread hate and lies with publishing platforms). He says outrageous things that make headlines. He’s just complex enough and tries to keep the public guessing. He’s well-known for being a flamboyant gay man (preying on a misconception that minorities can't also commit identity-politics-related wrongs), and he denies being a part of the so-called alt-right movement (regardless of evidence to the contrary based on his association with Breitbart and public statements). And controversial authors have sold books before, with publishers issuing statements disavowing their alignment with the controversial or hateful ideas of their authors.
The UK publisher's refusal to play along is at least one small victory in the fight against hate.