Earlier this week I found myself wondering, whatever happened to Milo Yiannopoulos? Just days later, I found my answer. On the one-year anniversary of his ouster from Breitbart, Ross McCafferty spotted him shilling supplements on InfoWars.
To recap, this time last year, Yiannopoulos was forced out of his position as a tech editor at Breitbart and lost his contract with Simon & Schuster. Days later, I predicted that this would not be the last we’d see of him. Although I never understood the appeal of Yiannopoulos, there was almost no escaping him. Despite no longer being on Twitter, he was everywhere. While he only appealed to a certain breed, I couldn’t name one conservative in my generation that didn’t know who he was. I imagined he’d up the ante on his YouTube page. He’d take a page from Philip Defranco’s playbook and launch a Pateron for subscriber exclusive content for those who still want to support the newly unemployed troll.
Wednesday, February 21st marked the year anniversary of his ouster at Breitbart, and I ended up being proven wrong. I found myself wondering, what has he been doing all this time? So I decided to dig a little.
In regards to his social media presence, it’s safe to say Yiannopoulos isn’t what he used to be.
Up until this year, the metrics on Yiannopoulos’ YouTube page were pretty underwhelming, considering it was one of the few platforms his audience would be able to find him outside of Facebook. Taking a glance the levels of engagement on his Facebook page left me wondering if I misremembered his presence in the political space. I found myself comparing his stats to Ben Shapiro, who likely took his throne. While not all of Shapiro’s posts were winners, he still had a higher level of engagement than Yiannopoulos.
Perhaps it was because I started muting inflammatory people from high school and college, but it didn’t take long for me to completely forget Yiannopoulos existed.
Every now and then, he would pop up in the news. In April of that year, Yiannopoulos announced that he would launch a media venture, Milo Inc. dedicated destroying political correctness. He planned to host his first event, a week-long free speech event near U.C. Berkeley, which ultimately fizzled quite spectacularly to the point where Vanity Fair compared it to the mess that was the Fyre music festival.
In October 2017, BuzzFeed published a damning article examining Yiannopoulos’ relationship with white supremacists as well as his efforts to push the Breitbart ideology to the forefront of Trump’s campaign. Robert Mercer, GOP-mega donor, later pulled his funds from Milo Inc. and sold his stake in Breitbart.
In November, just a little more than a month after BuzzFeed brought him back into relevance, Yiannopoulos launched his website dangerous.com, which included an archive of articles interns wrote for him while he was employed by Breitbart, along with new content. The launch was underwhelming, as the only source I can find acknowledging it happened came from Alt-Right News, and their “coverage” was rather unfavorable, an interesting deviation from their previous praise for the conservative media icon.
A month later, court documents regarding Yiannopoulos’ lawsuit against Simon & Schuster were made public. The documents revealed the issues the publisher had with the book. The Guardian pointed to a specific track edit from his editor, “unclear, unfunny, delete.” The Guardian also pointed out the editor, Mitchell Ivers, grew impatient with Yiannopoulos they got deeper into the memoir. Throughout the memoir, Ivers requested citations and clarity, & omissions of overt sexist, racist and/or unfunny commentary.
It would be nearly two months before we hear from Yiannopoulos again. On Tuesday, February 20th, Yiannopoulos dropped his lawsuit against the publishing company. The next day, we would see on him on InfoWars. Today, Shapiro closed CPAC, a venue Yiannopoulos was supposed to grace last year.
I’m always open to being wrong. However, I believe the conservative wing is in the midst of rebranding. Ben Shapiro, as the New York Times attempted to sell to its audience, is a palatable conservative that might be annoying, but really isn’t flamboyantly offensive. If Milo Yiannopoulos wants to have a comeback tour, and it appears that’s what he’s doing, he’s going to have to do a little rebranding himself.