Breitbart 'considers firing senior editor Milo Yiannopoulos' over 'pro-paedophilia’ video footage

'Breitbart already has advertising issues regarding its association with the Alt-Right, and this doesn’t help the business side,' claims source

Maya Oppenheim@mayaoppenheim
Tuesday 21 February 2017 13:25
Milo Yiannopoulous defends relationships between younger boys and older men on radio show

Breitbart is reportedly considering plans to fire their senior editor Milo Yiannopoulos over apparently pro-paedophilia remarks he made in a newly surfaced podcast.

Mr Yiannopoulos, a vocal Donald Trump supporter who rose to fame for his far-right views, has sparked outrage since footage emerged of him appearing to endorse sexual relationships between “younger boys and older men”.

The “alt-right” figurehead, who was permanently banned from Twitter in July after claims he helped lead the racist and sexist abuse of Ghostbusters actor Leslie Jones, has had his book deal with publisher Simon & Schuster pulled in the wake of the remarks. He has also been dropped from speaking at the prestigious Conservative Political Action (CPAC) conference, which will feature President Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence, in Maryland next week.

Breitbart News, the far-right news site which helped forge Mr Yiannopoulos’ career, is now reportedly planning on potentially dismissing the controversial employee. Sources from the publication told Fox Business late on Monday that his dismissal over comments about underage sex could come by the end of the day.

The publication reported that Breitbart insiders told them there was a fierce internal debate underway about whether to keep him on. They said the decision was ultimately one related to branding, with senior executives debating how “damaging his comments are to the Breitbart brand”.

“Breitbart already has advertising issues regarding its association with the Alt-Right, and this doesn’t help the business side,” said a source.

A campaign group recently claimed more than 1,000 advertisers have pulled out of advertising with the news outlet, including Kelloggs, BMW, Visa, Nordstrom, T-Mobile, and Lufthansa.

On top of this, a senior editor at the publication has said “at least half a dozen” employees are prepared to leave the company over Mr Yiannopoulos’ remarks about paedophilia.

“The fact of the matter is that there have been so many things that have been objectionable about Milo over the last couple of years, quite frankly. This is something far more sinister,” the senior editor told The Washingtonian on Monday.

“If the company isn’t willing to act, there are at least half a dozen people who are willing to walk out over it.”

In the excerpt from The Drunken Peasants podcast which aired a year ago but has been circulated on social media since Sunday, Mr Yiannopoulos apparently advocated the possibility of sexual relationships between 13-year-olds and adults. However, he said yesterday on his Facebook page that he agrees with the current age of consent and was not advocating relationships between older men and pre-pubescent boys.

In the podcast, he said he defines paedophiles as people who are sexually attracted to children who have yet to hit puberty. He also says he believes some teenagers under the age of 16 are able to consent to sexual activity.

In the UK, the Sexual Offences Act 2003 states that the age of consent is 16 and that any sexual activity involving consenting children under 16 is unlawful. The Sexual Offences act of 1956, which is used for sexual offences committed before 2004, states that a boy or girl under the age of 16 cannot consent in law.

Mr Yiannopoulos cast his mind back to his own sexual abuse as a teenager and did not condemn similar relationships between children and men. He said young boys “discover who they are” through such relationships, even when they’re sexual in nature, and can give them security and safety and provide them with love and a reliable rock where they can't speak to their parents”.

Mr Yiannopoulos has responded to videos of the podcast being shared on social media on his personal Facebook page, saying: “I do not support paedophilia”. He claimed the videos being circulated had been selectively edited. The podcast, which is filmed, can be watched in full here.

The far-right provocateur also said he “deeply regret[s]” the way his comments were interpreted, and emphasised that he is “horrified by paedophilia” and claimed he has “devoted large portions of my careers as a journalist to exposing child abusers”.

The senior Breitbart editor will host a press conference in New York at 3pm local time on Tuesday to speak about the podcast.

Breitbart News was founded by conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart in 2007 and was later expanded by senior Trump aide Steve Bannon.

Bannon, the former executive chairman of the site, declared the publication "the platform for the alt-right” after taking the reins around four years ago and transforming the agenda from ultra-conservatism to anti-establishment, anti-immigrant, nationalist and unabashedly pro-Trump during the presidential election. It is now the most widely-read Conservative site in the US and has been dubbed “Trumpbart”. The President gave numerous interviews to the site in the build-up to the election, boosting its traffic to a 124 per cent spike in 2016.

Mr Yiannopoulos has been dubbed a spokesperson for the "alt-right" movement - a political movement which has been accused of racism, anti-Semitism and misogyny and of sharing an ideology with far-right parties such as the French National Front.

He recently had an event at Berkeley University called off due to heated protests, with demonstrators throwing smoke bombs, starting fires and smashing windows.

A representative for Breitbart News did not immediately respond to request for comment.

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