Milo Yiannopoulos is battling backlash after the deadly shooting at the Capital Gazette Newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland on Thursday. Many people are speaking out against the right-wing firebrand, pointing to recent comments he made, calling for “gunning journalists down.”
Two days before the shooting, Yiannopoulos, a former Breitbart editor, appeared to threaten two journalists from the New York Observer after they reached out to him with a request for comment. “I can’t wait for the vigilante squads to start gunning journalists down on sight,” he told New York Observer reporters in a text message, which the journalists later released to the public.
Twitter commentators were quick to cast blame on Yiannopoulos for the shooting, arguing that he directly urged violence against journalists. However, Yiannopoulos responded to his accusers with a Facebook post on Thursday afternoon and vehemently denied that his messages could be held responsible for inciting the attack on the Gazette newsroom that left five dead.
“You’re about to see a raft of news stories claiming that I am responsible for inspiring the deaths of journalists,” he wrote. “This is wholly false … I made a private, offhand troll to two hostile reporters, who breathlessly publicized it and like vermin their fellow journalists swarmed to remind the world how much they hate Milo.”
In the lengthy Facebook response, Yiannopoulos emphasized that his statement was a “private joke.” “If there turns out to be any dimension to this crime related to my private, misreported remarks, the responsibility for that lies squarely and wholly with the Beast and the Observer for drumming up fake hysteria about a private joke, and with the verified liberals who pretended they thought I was serious,” he wrote.
A groundswell of Twitter commentators said they believe that Yiannopoulos should be blamed for inspiring the shooting with his anti-journalist rhetoric. Some also lumped in President Donald Trump, noting POTUS’ anti-media stance.
Read comments from several of Yiannopoulos’ detractors:
Two days ago the President called the media the enemy. Two days ago Milo Yiannopoulos told people to start gunning down journalists. Today an active shooter fires inside the Capital Gazette leaving journalists and others dead. How can any of you support these people?
— Faizal Khamisa (@SNFaizalKhamisa) June 28, 2018
1. Trump calls the media “the enemy” and the “greatest threat to the country.”
2. 48 hours ago Milo says a vigilante should begin shooting & killing journalists.
3. Today that very thing happened. https://t.co/wV1UxqKFJe
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) June 28, 2018
Trump, Feb 2017: Media is "the enemy of the American people" & "a great danger to our country."
Trump fifteen days ago: Media is the nation's "biggest enemy."
Milo Yiannopoulos two days ago: “I can’t wait for the vigilante squads to start gunning journalists down."
— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) June 28, 2018
Milo Yiannopoulos wants people to shoot journalists. Since conservatives seem confused, this is what dangerous rhetoric ACTUALLY looks like. https://t.co/qG3esoAb32
— Adam Best (@adamcbest) June 26, 2018
Couple of days ago Milo Yiannopoulos commented “i can’t wait for vigilante squads to start gunning down journalists”
And now Annapolis Journalists getn gunned down
Again all you… https://t.co/gEDINoGSeF
— T'Questlove (@questlove) June 28, 2018
Violent threat against @CNN few months ago. Trump tweeting gifs and images of violence against media. Incitement of anger towards the media by the echo chamber. Milo Yiannopoulos saying journalists should be gunned down. Why are you surprised by today's tragedy?
— Wajahat Ali (@WajahatAli) June 28, 2018
I hope Milo Yiannopoulos is never allowed to step foot in the US again.
— Roland Scahill (@rolandscahill) June 28, 2018
yesterday: start "gunning journalists down" – Milo Yiannopoulos
— Rob Bennett (@rob_bennett) June 28, 2018
Here is Milo Yiannopolous’ full response.