Only a few years ago, Yiannopoulos was one of the star pundits on the Trumpian right. He was a prized writer for Breitbart, a touted ally of Steve Bannon and even the possessor of a book deal from Simon and Shuster. The Mercer family, among the biggest donors to the Republican Party, amply subsidized his provocations. But Yiannopoulos’ extremist politics have made him an increasingly toxic figure, especially after an amply documented BuzzFeed expose revealing the depth of his ties to Neo-Nazis. These revelations caused even very hard-right figures like the Mercers and Breitbart to cut their ties to Yiannopoulos.
Now, Observer is reporting that Yiannopoulos’ descent into the political gutter continues apace. Asked by Observer to comment on a story, Yiannopoulos texted, “I can’t wait for the vigilante squads to start gunning journalists down on sight.” He sent a similar comment to a Daily Beast writer.
Yiannopoulos has also sent anti-Semitic messages to the writer and fact checker Talia Lavin. “This past weekend, the nationalist bragged on Facebook and Instagram that he’d sent $14.88 to The New Yorker‘s former fact checker Talia Lavin,” Observer notes. (1488 being a notorious code used by white supremacists to hail each other).
Amid the current brouhaha over civility, it is important to remember that so noxious a figure as Yiannopoulos was once courted and promoted by a White House aide and major Republican donors. The successful campaign to shun and marginalize Yiannopoulos, made in the wake of the BuzzFeed story, now seems more justified than ever.