After coming under fire for agreeing to publish a book by political columnist Milo Yiannopoulos, the publisher released a public statement to defend their right to release books without fear of censorship.
In an email sent Friday evening, Simon & Schuster responded to progressive critics: "we do not and never have condoned discrimination or hate speech in any form. 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."
Simon & Schuster, who is owned by CBS, has long published political titles from both sides of the aisle, from figures such as Ronald Reagan and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to Hillary Rodham Clinton's and Tim Kaine's campaign-trail book, Stronger Together.
Yiannopoulous is a columnist for Breitbart who was an early and outspoken supporter of Donald Trump. His popular tweets about Trump, the media, and progressive critics were shared by Trump supporters and critics alike. At the height of his popularity early this summer, Twitter banned Yiannopoulos's account after he criticized actress Leslie Jones' performance in this year's Ghostbusters movie. Twitter claimed Yiannopoulos incited hatred and prejudice against Jones, who is black.
After The Hollywood Reporter claimed this week that Simon & Schuster paid $250,000 in advance to Yiannopoulos for the book, progressive activists took their anger to social media and on the publisher.
When comedienne Sarah Silverman discovered the book deal, she tweeted, "The guy has freedom of speech but to fund him & give him a platform tells me a LOT about @simonschuster YUCK AND BOO AND GROSS."
The book editor for the LA Times, Carolyn Kellogg, tweeted, "If you approved a $250K book deal for the troll promoting racist, sexist views so extreme he got thrown off this platform - we need to talk."
And The Chicago Review of Books decided to relatiate against the publisher for selling Yiannopoulus's book, tweeting, "In response to this disgusting validation of hate, we will not cover a single @simonschuster book in 2017."
With the attention from progressive activists over the past few days, the keyword "Milo" appeared as the most popular hashtag on Twitter this week. In response, he boasted yesterday on his Facebook page that banning him from Twitter backfired on his progressives activists. "They said banning me from Twitter would finish me off. Just as I predicted, the opposite has happened. Every line of attack the forces of political correctness try on me fails pathetically," he wrote.
Yiannopoulus also wrote, "I'm more powerful, more influential, and more fabulous than ever before and this book is the moment Milo goes mainstream. Social justice warriors should be scared -- very scared."