By: Alex Bennett and Sara Ghassemi
Abstract and Intro
- Milo Yiannopoulos made statements during an interview that appeared to condone pedophilia.
- The video surfaced and there was a public outcry against Yiannopoulos.
- Yiannopoulos’s book was cancelled, and his invitation to CPAC was rescinded.
- Shortly after the video surfaced Yiannopoulos resigned from his position as editor of Breitbart.
- Yiannopoulos took to Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram to try and defend himself.
- Case studies were used, including landmark cases such as those about Hugh Grant, Queen Elizabeth, and Tonya Harding.
- Case studies were also used which had a direct link to pedophilia allegations such as those in the Catholic Church, and case studies about other celebrities defending themselves from allegations.
- RQ1: Which tactics did Milo Yiannopoulos use to repair his image after the video of his statements surfaced?
- RQ2: How did Yiannopoulos’s fans respond to the tactics, and did their response differ from the general public?
- RQ3: Did lack of mortification hurt Yiannopoulos’s image restoration?
Our main analysis of Yiannopoulos’s image repair strategies involved an analysis of his Facebook post titled “A note for idiots (UPDATED):” and also an analysis of the comments on the post, including Yiannopoulos’s responses to those comments. We also looked at a post of his from Instagram, as well as a YouTube video he posted and removed, and how his actions were portrayed by sources such as NPR, Huffington Post, and the New York Times.
|Denial||Mortification||Reducing Offensiveness||Corrective Action||Evasion of Responsibility|
-Misinterpretation: “boy” has a different meaning in the gay community
– Attacking the accuser: calling those who disagreed with him “idiots”
– Bolstering: pointed to his journalistic work that has caught child predators
Facebook & YouTube:
– Blamed the editing of the interview for the way his statements sounded
Yiannopoulos noticeably did not apologize for what he said or meant or fully retract his earlier statements. Instead his main strategies involved trying to reduce the offensiveness of what he did say, and bolstering through his previous journalistic work that had outed pedophiles. He also blamed the media in general for portraying him and his statements in a negative light through the use of malicious editing.
It didn’t really end up working out that well.
The lack of effectiveness of his strategies is well demonstrated in the above image from Matt Schlapp:
“We realize that Mr. Yiannopoulos has responded on Facebook, but it is insufficient. It is up to him to answer the tough questions and we urge him to immediately further address these disturbing comments.” – Matt Schlapp
- Yiannopoulos initially attempted denial in the early edits of his Facebook post and in the YouTube video he uploaded, but shortly after he removed the video and made a total of about 11 or 12 edits to the original Facebook post.
- Most of the edits involved adding more onto the post to bolster his position and try to reduce the offensiveness.
- Due to the recency of the event, we cannot yet discuss the long term impact of Yiannopoulos’s image repair strategies.
- Although Yiannopoulos provided several comments within his Facebook post, his ban from Twitter for an unrelated incident means we could not analyze any Tweets from him relevant to this topic
- More research could have been done involving audience polls and Yiannopoulos’s later comments.
- Milo Yiannopoulos’s main strategies involved denial at first, though he later abandoned that strategy and chose to focus on reducing offensiveness and evading responsibility.
- Yiannopoulos did not apologize for his comments and ask for forgiveness, showing that he did not use mortification.
- His lack of use of mortification didn’t overly hurt him within his core fan base on his Facebook page, but outside of the places where people already support him, it was very damaging to his reputation. If he had use mortification, we believe it likely he would have much less backlash after the video surfaced.
- Considering his dual roles as unofficial spokesperson for the alt-right and his celebrity status as an incendiary and controversial figure, we hope more studies can be done regarding similar figures in similar situations in order to fully analyze what image repair strategies were used, what strategies should have been used, and how effective everything was.