Responding to the fierce backlash against its recently announced book deal with Breitbart editor and “alt-right” pundit Milo Yiannopoulos, publisher Simon & Schuster on Friday stood by the acquisition and asserted that the company does not approve of hate speech.
“We do not and never have condoned discrimination or hate speech in any form,” the company said in a statement posted to social media. “At Simon & Schuster, we have always published books by a wide range of authors with greatly varying, and frequently controversial opinions, and appealing to many different audiences of readers.”
The statement continued, “While we are cognizant that many may disagree vehemently with the books we publish, we note that the opinions expressed therein belong to our authors, and do not reflect either a corporate viewpoint or the views of our employees.”
Simon & Schuster came under fire this week after the Hollywood Reporter broke the news that its Threshold Editions imprint had inked a $250,000 deal with Yiannopoulos, a well-known figure in the so-called “alt-right,” a white nationalist movement. Among other exploits, Yiannopoulos is known for orchestrating a racist online harassment campaign against Saturday Night Live and Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones, and subsequently being slapped with a permanent ban from Twitter.
Threshold has described Yiannopoulos’ book as “a book on free speech.”
Many authors, including some who have contracts with Simon & Schuster, have condemned the deal. “I’m looking at my @simonschuster contract, and unfortunately there’s no clause for ‘what if we decide to publish a white nationalist,'” Danielle Henderson tweeted.
“This is a major bummer to me as one of your gay authors,” wrote Tim Federle.
Karen Hunter added, “I am rethinking my relationship with @simonschuster #Milo.”