Milo Yiannopoulos resigned from Breitbart News, the far-right website where he was a top editor, after video surfaced in which the controversial figure appeared to condone sex between men and underage boys as young as 13.
“My employer, Breitbart News, has stood by me when others caved,” Yiannopoulos said during a news conference Tuesday. “They have allowed me to carry conservative and libertarian ideas to communities that would otherwise never have had them. I would be wrong to allow my poor choice of words to detract from my colleagues’ important job, which is why I am resigning from Breitbart, effective immediately.”
Yiannopoulos, 32, had been a tech editor for Breitbart News, leading Breitbart Tech since its launch in 2015.
“Milo Yiannopoulos’s bold voice has sparked much-needed debate on important cultural topics confronting universities, the LGBTQ community, the press, and the tech industry,” Breitbart News said in a statement. “Milo notified us this morning of his decision to resign as editor of Breitbart Tech and we accepted his resignation.”
During the news conference, Yiannopoulos said he strongly opposes the sexual abuse of children, that he regrets his “imprecise language.” He tempered his apologies by attributing his comments to his own sexual abuse and “gallows humor,” while also blaming selective editing for the reaction to his comments.
“When I was 16, two men touched me in ways they should not have,” Yiannopoulos said. “One of those men was a priest.”
Yiannopoulos said while he hadn’t viewed himself as a victim in the past, “clearly, I am one.”
“In the years after what happened I fell into alcohol and nihilistic partying,” he said. “It lasted well into my 20’s. A few years ago, I realized it was time to do something good with my life. I started focusing on work. But the black comedy, the gallows humor and love of shock value I developed in my 20s never really went away.
“My experiences as a victim led me to believe I could say anything I wanted to on this subject, no matter how outrageous,” he said.
Yiannopoulos said he was horrified that some got the impression that he was advocating sex with children and strongly stated that he abhors pedophilia.
“I don’t believe that sex with 13-year-olds is OK,” he said.
“To repeat: I do not support child abuse,” he added. “It’s a disgusting crime of which I have personally been a victim.”
But Yiannopoulos also said he “reviewed the tapes that appeared a few days ago, in the proper context, and I don’t believe that they say what is being reported. Nonetheless, I do say some things on the tapes that I do not mean and which do not reflect my views.”
Yiannopoulos said he would “not apologize for dealing with my life experiences in the way which I choose to, which is through humor and provocation.” But he added he was sorry if his words hurt other abuse victims.
“I will never stop making jokes about taboo subjects,” he continued.
Yiannopoulos is known for sparking outrage with his provocative positions. But this latest controversy has cost him his job at Breitbart, as well as a lucrative book deal with Simon & Schuster and a speaking gig at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference.
“After careful consideration, Simon & Schuster and its Threshold Editions imprint have canceled publication of Dangerous by Milo Yiannopoulos,” the publisher said in a statement Monday.
And Monday American Conservative Union head Matt Schlapp released a statement saying, “CPAC is a constructive forum for controversies and disagreements among conservatives, however there is no disagreement among our attendees on the evils of sexual abuse of children.”
In the video — which appears to be a recording of an interview with Yiannopoulos during a Drunken Peasants podcast featuring comedian Joe Rogan — Yiannopoulos, a gay man, defends relationships between older men and teen boys.
“In the homosexual world particularly, some of those relationships between younger boys and older men are sort coming-of-age relationships,” said Yiannopoulos. “Those older men help the young boys to discover who they are and give them security and safety and provide them with love.”
One of the hosts said what Yiannopoulos advocated reminded him of the sexual abuse scandal among Catholic priests.
“And do you know what? I’m grateful for Father Michael,” Yiannopoulos replied.
A self-described “supervillain,” much of the British-born Yiannopoulos’ celebrity is fueled by his incendiary assaults on political correctness. For example, he started the #FeminismIsCancer hashtag and called rape culture “fake.”
Such statements have made him anathema to large groups of college students. The provocateur was met with angry protests as several stops along his recent campus speaking tour, including a violent one at the University of California-Berkeley that led to his appearance being canceled.