"Milo Yiannopoulos is the pretty, monstrous face of the alt-right movement," says Joel Stein in Businessweek. As the star writer for Breitbart News a right-wing website that "merged semi-officially" with Donald Trump's campaign in August when its chief executive, Steve Bannon, quit his job to become the Republican candidate's campaign chairman Yiannopoulos has become the noisiest defender of this "new, Trump-led ultra-conservatism", which opposes immigrants, feminists, political correctness and any non-Western culture.
Yet Yiannopoulos's enthusiastic backing of Trump is just the latest "chapter ofhis ongoing quest to court controversy and fame", says Rupert Myers in GQ magazine. This "goblin prince" of internet trolling first came to public attention in 2014 during "Gamergate", when he supported a harassment campaign against women in the video-game industry. He was permanently banned from Twitter after the social media company said he had incited his 350,000 followers to send racist abuse to Ghostbusters star, Leslie Jones.
Once described as a cross between a pit bull and Oscar Wilde, Yiannopoulos sees himself as a satirist and entertainer, he tells Fusion's Karen Brown, inventing a comedy persona as a way of hiding bits of himself he feels uncomfortable about. An openly gay English/Greek Catholic of Jewish descent who now lives in Los Angeles, his background is hard to fathom: he has previously described his upbringing as "middle, middle class horses, two cars, a pool", but tells Stein that his father, whom he hasn't seen for years, is "terrifying like Tony Soprano, but Greek".
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Yiannopoulos dropped out of both Manchester and Cambridge Universities, self-published poems under the pseudonym Milo Andreas Wagner and wrote a technology column for The Daily Telegraph. After being fired by the paper, he founded a technology gossip website, The Kernel, which foundered amidst lawsuits from unpaid contributors, before being hired by Breitbart News two years ago.
His finances are hazy and poorly managed: there are almost 30 people on his payroll costing around $1m year, he tells Stein. Some $100,000 worth of donations made to a scholarship fund for white men he set up earlier this year to rile liberals are, by his own admission, still sitting in his bank account. He is reportedly about to buy a $3m house in Los Angeles and wears $1,000 Nike trainers, yet his life is a "trail of corporate wrecks", says Myers. Ultimately, his currency is not money, but fame. Many suspect he doesn't even believe his own right-wing diatribes.
"He peddles a pageant of insincerity that is immediately legible to fellow Brits," says Laurie Penny in The Guardian. But that doesn't matter, because the harm he does by ventriloquising the fear of millions "is real". What's happening in America has "happened before, in other nations, in other anxious, violent times when all the old certainties peeled away and maniacs took the wheel".
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