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Editor’s brutal mark-up of Milo Yiannopoulos’ manuscript draws ridicule for alt-right author

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 December, 2017, 2:36pm
UPDATED : Friday, 29 December, 2017, 2:36pm

Editors are the unseen warriors of the writing world. Their work – advising, shaping and cutting a piece of writing to make it more readable – is done in private. Their names are rarely widely known.

But Mitchell Ivers of Threshold Editions, a conservative imprint of the New York-based publishing house Simon & Schuster, is getting an unlikely moment in the limelight after a manuscript he worked on surfaced in a high-profile court case. The mark-up of Milo Yiannopoulos’ Dangerous, which statements in court documents say were largely made by Ivers, became a sensation on social media on Tuesday.

Perhaps it was the earnestness with which the editor went about his task, writing clipped, direct notes of feedback to the conservative media figure, who made a name for himself by making outrageous statements designed to raise people’s ire.

“Delete irrelevant and superfluous ethnic joke,” the editor writes in one comment.

“This entire paragraph is just repeating Fake News,” he says later.

“Use another word here,” one comment reads, after the editor crossed out word, “Cuck,” a favourite of lexicon of the new far-right.

Yiannopoulos’ book deal, which was disclosed in late 2016, capped an extraordinary period for the conservative media figurehead, a British provocateur who gained a following through his work for the website Breitbart and the seemingly never-ending chain of controversies that followed him.

Despite a history of inflammatory statements, many of which played on fraught notions of race, gender and sexuality, Yiannopoulos was awarded a six-figure advance by the major publishing house, representing perhaps the most prominent attempt to bring the writer and his incendiary routine into the mainstream fold.

The publishing house defended its decision at the time, saying that the book would be about free speech and asking readers to “withhold judgment until they have had a chance to read the actual contents of the book.”

The proposal was sharply criticised by many on the left, and the deal was soon cancelled by Simon & Schuster after videos surfaced in which Yiannopoulos appeared to endorse paedophilia, a controversy which also cost Yiannopoulos his perch at Breitbart.

In return, Yiannopoulos filed a lawsuit against the publisher in New York Supreme Court that alleges the company wrongfully terminated his contract, causing “irreparable harm” to him and his value as a public figure. And it was through this lawsuit that the manuscript emerged.

Ivers did not return multiple requests for comment.

In the manuscript, the editor works hard to remove what he described as baseless accusations and questionable facts. A bizarre paragraph that repeats a hoax theory about a satanic sex ring connected to Hillary Clinton is deleted in its entirety.

“This entire paragraph is just repeating Fake News,” the editor writes. “There was NO blood, NO semen and there was NO Satanism. Delete.”

A comparison Yiannopoulos makes equating Hollywood and Nazis is similarly excised. “I don’t like using Nazi analogies,” the editor writes. “Ever. Let other people do that.”

The editing seemed to be an attempt to shape Yiannopoulos into a writer who could be read by a wide audience. A flabby joke about a frat boy’s anatomy prompts the reminder that the book should be written to a broader audience than Yiannopoulos was accustomed to on Breitbart.

The editor seems incredulous when presented with racist jokes.

“Rephrase this,” the editor writes about Yiannopolous’ sentence about being romantically interested in “denizens of the dark continent.”

“It sounds like ‘darkies’.”

And, on a similar note: “This is not the time or place for another black **** joke.”

In an affidavit submitted for the lawsuit, Ivers said that he played a large role in acquiring the manuscript but was “disappointed with the work.”

“It was not the serious and substantial commentary on free speech and political correctness that we expected and discussed,” he said. “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 distractions and many would see as racist, misogynist, anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic, or homophobic.”