Just for a little background, I used to consider Milo Yiannopoulos – once-upon-a-time Telegraph technology reporter, and general gay-about-town – as a friend. I’ve known him for some time, and despite his recent turn into a bully and online thug, I once admired some of his traits. He is clever and enigmatic.
Obviously, I don’t choose my friends well, as witnessed by last month’s character assassination and witch-hunt of me led by Milo. Lesson learned.
The original post I wrote for this purpose was actually full of really rather nasty personal stuff about him. The very same kind of stuff he uses regularly to bully, defame and harass innocent people using his Twitter account and Kernel website and email newsletter. I drafted it out of anger at Milo a few weeks back, when I realised he had lied about me in one of his Kernel pieces.
I’ve decided not to stoop to Milo’s level however, and not to release the embarrassing personal stuff I originally wrote. Instead I am going to put the facts out there about his journalistic methods and leave it at that. As hurt as I am that a friend treated me that way, sometimes it’s better to take the high road.
On December 10th, 2012, Milo ran a piece on the Kernel titled ‘Bozier Sexted While in Meeting with Mensch’. In this article, he published screenshots of Direct Messages I had allegedly sent to one or more women, some of which containing sexually explicit language and explicit suggestions.
The relevance of these messages? None. Public interest? No. Am I a public figure? No I am not, and I am entitled to send sexually explicit messages to whomever I wish.
Milo’s basis for posting these messages was that I’d sent them while in meetings with my business partner, former MP Louise Mensch. Here are some quotes from the piece:
‘Bozier sent a stream of increasingly explicit messages while in a business meeting with the former Tory MP on October 24, 2012.’
‘Menshn co-founder Luke Bozier sent explicit messages to a ‘young girl’ while discussing plans for the Menshn start-up with former Tory MP Louise Mensch.’
Apparently, the woman I’d sent the message to was a 19-year old. What relevance her age has I’m not sure.
Anyway, that’s beside the point. The main point here is that Milo falsified the dates on the Direct Message screenshots, to suggest that I was with Mensch while sending them. So one particularly explicit message, in which I go to some length to describe certain sexual fantasies with one of these women, was sent on October 24th 2011 – two months before I’d even met Louise Mensch, and three months before we incorporated a company together.
But in Milo’s piece, it clearly states the message was sent on October 24th 2012.
Now, on October 24th 2012, and for the entirety of the week preceding and following the 24th, I was in London. I had lots of meetings, some of which a matter of public record with minutes taken etc. Louise Mensch on the other hand, was at her home in Manhattan, 3,500 miles across the Atlantic.
As most of the world knows, I didn’t have a Twitter account between June-November 2012. I closed it down in a high-profile hissy fit in June. Ironically, I chose to write for the Kernel my explanation of why I closed the account down.
So not only did I not have a Twitter account, but I was on another continent to Louise. Yet he clearly states – clearly, beyond any doubt – that I’d sent those messages in 2012, while with Louise. When I put this to Milo in an email today, he at first became defensive, saying that I did have dinner with Mensch on October 24th 2012.
But then he tripped up. Here’s a screenshot:
He admitted, in writing, that the message was actually sent on October 24th 2011. He falsified the information about me to create a sensationalist story, to drive traffic to his website, and to perpetuate an idea of me as somebody who can’t control his sex drive (whether or not that is true is beyond the point, I am well entitled to a private life).
This is not only beyond doubt a firm basis for a defamation suit, the proceeds of which would pay for my summer in Jamaica, but it is prima facie evidence of Milo’s bullying tactics and lack of journalistic principle. As a growing number of people are pointing out (two such examples here and here), Milo will go to any length to hurt people. He hides behind a computer, a Blackberry, a website and an email newsletter, and says what he wants about people, seemingly beyond reproach.
He threatens, he defames, he bullies. He doesn’t pay his staff their wages. He manipulates information beyond recognition, to create scandal. He uses the personal lives of private citizens to drive traffic to his site. He is an outspoken homophobe and anti-Semite. He does all of this, apparently, in the name of journalism.
If there is a better case than Milo for reforming libel laws and media regulation, to bring them up to date with the blogging and tweeting age, I would be surprised. We are a society of laws, and the web is not – or at least should not be – beyond the same rules that newspapers and everyone else must abide by.
Clearly I have not chosen my friends well. And hell, with ‘friends’ like Milo, who needs enemies?
Ironically, considering the ‘super troll’ status he has acquired, Milo routinely makes a fuss about so-called ‘trolls’ who hassle him online. Oi vey…
The lesson here is that you should be very careful in choosing what to believe on the web. People profit from sensationalist lies. Yiannopoulos falsifies information to drive traffic to his blog and thus boost his advertising revenue. There is no limit to who he will hurt for his own cause.
There’s the famous old adage about being careful what you believe if it’s written in a newspaper. The world has moved on somewhat. It’s the blogs you have to watch out for.
Next stop… Carter Ruck.