Milo Yiannopoulos, a professional troll and proud bigot, has announced that he will self-publish the book Simon & Schuster dropped after his comments condoning child abuse surfaced earlier this year. He plans to publish the book as part of a new media venture, MILO, Inc, which he describes in a Facebook post as “a fully tooled-up talent factory and management company dedicated to the destruction of political correctness and the progressive left.”
In this release, he explains the motivation behind his project, saying:
I will spend every waking moment of the rest of my life making the lives of journalists, professors, politicians, feminists, Black Lives Matter activists and other professional victims a living hell.
I doubt it was wise to publicly announce the malicious intent behind his company, which I assume will publish controversial statements about individuals belonging to the groups Milo lists. This announcement could make it easier for members of these groups to establish the legal elements of defamation claims against Milo and his company (assuming the company materializes; apparently, his past ventures have not).
Generally speaking, in the United States, a plaintiff bringing a defamation case in court has to prove the following elements (it varies a little by state):
- 1) the defendant negligently published or communicated to a third party
- 2) a false statement purporting to be true
- 3) that resulted in harm to the plaintiff.
However, public figures and celebrities — the people Milo is likely to target, considering his trolling of actress Leslie Jones — have a higher standard to meet to win a defamation lawsuit against someone who publishes untrue statements about them. They have to prove that the defendant made the alleged defamatory statements with “actual malice.” New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964).
Thanks to Milo’s press release (and probably other statements he’s made), it might be relatively easy for future plaintiffs to prove that statements published by his venture were made with “reckless disregard of whether or not it was false.” After all, the point of his venture isn’t to publish truthful information but rather to make the lives of anyone who disagrees with him “a living hell.”
Meanwhile, Milo has also announced a lawsuit of his own. He plans to sue Simon & Schuster for dropping his book. If he follows through on this threat, I question whether it will be successful. I would assume Simon & Schuster’s contracts with authors include a “morals clause,” a provision in many entertainment contracts that generally allows a party to withdraw from the agreement when the other party engages in “bad behavior.” Then again, what kind of morals clause could Simon & Schuster have imposed on Milo when the only reason for the contract in the first place was to capitalize off of Milo’s immorality?
*Similarly, Donald Trump’s words have also been used against his actions in court. See Trump’s Words Were Again Used Against Him in Sanctuary City Ruling & Trump’s Remarks About Muslims Could Be What Ends The Travel Ban, Testimony Suggests.