In December of last year, renowned white supremacist, misogynist, plagiarist and then Breitbart technology editor Milo Yiannopoulos scored a lucrative book deal with Threshold Editions, an imprint of publishing house Simon & Schuster. He would receive a £200,000 advance for his memoir Dangerous.
Two months later, Simon & Schuster cancelled the deal after a recording revealed Yiannopoulos appearing to endorse pedophilia, saying that relationships “between younger boys and older men… can be hugely positive experiences.”
And in July, Yiannopoulos announced that he would be suing Simon & Schuster for $10 million for breach of contract.
Now, new court documents filed by Simon & Schuster reveal that his manuscript really wasn’t that great, and that’s why the company decided not to move forward with its publication. The documents include correspondence between Yiannopoulos and Simon & Schuster Senior Editor Mitchell Ivers, a full copy of Yiannopoulos’ initial manuscript and Ivers’ edits, and an affidavit from Ivers on the timeline from the decision to publish Yiannopoulos to the decision to terminate the contract.
What has gotten most attention is Iver’s edits on Yiannopoulos’ first draft. They were pretty harsh and quite hilarious.
Software engineer Sarah Mei tweeted some of the most notable suggested edits and comments on the first draft.
I didn’t read the manuscript. Just the comments. They’re…amazing. Even better than the excerpts in the filing.
And a pretty good summary of the book I imagine. pic.twitter.com/2kPESxAlA9
— Sarah Mei (@sarahmei) December 28, 2017
Some of the other gems are:
- Gets in the way of the point you’re making — and it’s not even funny
- All this pop psychology is hogwash. You can’t say ugly people are drawn to the left. Have you ever seen the people at a Trump rally?
- Delete entire chapter. The book is better overall without hitting these “ugly people” notes in the the other chapters and better overall by deleting this one.
- This would never happen
- This is not true
- This is not true either
- Not true
- Three unfunny jokes in a row. DELETE
- This joke feels OLD
- Dumb joke
- DELETE UGH
- Too much ego
- This whole section is filled with assertions that don’t have the weight of fact. Understand the difference and back up every claim here, because this section will be hotly scrutinized.
- Beauty regime moved to box at end of chapter, after Nietzche section.
The comments are funny, and so was Ivers’ now-deleted “retweet without comment” on Wednesday of a tweet that noted he considered the manuscript “at best, a superficial work full of incendiary jokes with no coherent or sophisticated analysis of political issues.”
Still, it’s important to not lose sight of the fact that any edits to Yiannopoulos’ manuscript would have simply been repackaging white supremacy, misogyny, and homophobia to make such hatred palatable for readers.
but also take a moment to consider how milo's editor was essentially trying to make white supremacy, misogyny, and homophobia publishable: pic.twitter.com/FD6sUgN84c
— E. Alex Jung (@e_alexjung) December 28, 2017
At the time that Simon & Schuster offered Yiannopoulos a £200,000 advance, the company knew that he had made a name for himself attacking the LGBTQ community, Black people, Jews, Muslims, people of color in general, refugees, and feminists. This is not an exhaustive list. They knew that Yiannopoulos had encouraged his followers to harass and send pictures of apes to actress Leslie Jones, causing her to leave Twitter. Still, Simon & Schuster initially defended the book deal, claiming that they “do not and never have condoned discrimination or hate speech in any form.”
It was also public knowledge that he plagiarized a satirical book of poetry about Jewish people. People who worked with him told BuzzFeed that he did not write many of the articles under his name at Breitbart, and Yiannopoulos confirmed that it’s “completely standard for someone with a career like mine to have researchers and assistants and ghostwriters.”
In the recent court filings, Ivers explains that the proposed book “was to be a serious work addressing political correctness and related free speech issues that had embroiled our culture, including on college campuses.” The issue of so-called political correctness that has “embroiled our culture” was apparently worthy of overlooking all the other hate that Yiannopoulos spread (and his plagiarism).
In October, much of what we knew about Yiannopoulos’ racist views was confirmed, when a BuzzFeed investigation reported that Yiannopoulos regularly relied on white supremacists for his Breitbart articles, proving that the distinction between the so-called “alt-right” and white supremacists — a distinction that Yiannopoulos tries to make in his draft manuscript — doesn’t really exist. (ThinkProgress stopped making this distinction in its coverage of white supremacists last November.)
Simon & Schuster’s full filings, including correspondence between Yiannopoulos, further undersell the fact that Yiannopoulos thinks this is all some kind of joke. “Do I need an expanded section explicitly laying out why allegations of white supremacy etc are so totally absurd?” Yiannopoulos asks in one email to Ivers in January. “My approach has been to let the black dick jokes speak for themselves.”
Ironically, Ivers seems to realize the strangeness only after reading two drafts.
“It was not the serious and substantial commentary on free speech and political correctness that we expected and discussed,” the affidavit notes. “Instead, it was a superficial reworking of Mr. Yiannopoulos’ various speeches where he fed one liners to crowds and made incendiary comments. Most troubling, it was riddled with highly offensive commentary and ‘jokes’ that were distraction and many would see as racist, misogynist, anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic, or homophobic.”
Any look at Yiannopoulos’ career should have made that clear, long before a book deal with a quarter of a million dollar advance.