Conservative pundit Milo Yiannopoulos on Thursday defended himself against accusations that "private" comments he made to journalists were responsible for the Annapolis newsroom shooting earlier in the day which left five dead and several others injured.
Yiannapolous was asked by the Observer and Daily Beast to comment on two unrelated articles published Tuesday, Yiannopoulos - who is known as a provocateur - texted the Observer's Davis Richardson "I can't wait for the vigilante squads to start gunning journalists down on sight," while emailing the Beast's Will Sommer the same response.
When asked to elaborate, Milo told the Observer that his statement was his "standard response to a request for comment," which he also sent to the Daily Beast's Will Sommer, who published it as well.
In the aftermath of Thursday's newsroom shooting roughly 48 hours later, people began pointing fingers at Yiannopoulos - suggesting that his comments to the journalists inspired the shooting.
Additionally, both PayPal and Venmo payment platforms reportedly banned Milo in response.
#BREAKING: Paypal, Venmo suspend payment processing accounts for Milo Yiannopoulos following comments he made about shooting journalists; Paypal asked Yiannopoulos to remove all references to the company from his website. pic.twitter.com/RLeiyia9pA— Matthew Keys (@MatthewKeysLive) June 28, 2018
In response, Milo took to Facebook to defend himself hours after the incident - saying that he was trolling the journalists in private responses. "Basically as a way of saying, 'F---k off,' he said.
“You’re about to see a raft of news stories claiming that I am responsible for inspiring the deaths of journalists,” Yiannopoulos wrote. “The truth, as always, is the opposite of what the media tells you.”
“I sent a troll about 'vigilante death squads' as a *private* response to a few hostile journalists who were asking me for comment, basically as a way of saying, 'F---k off.' They then published it,” he continued. “Amazed they were pretending to take my joke as a 'threat,' I reposted these stories on Instagram to mock them – and to make it clear that I wasn’t being serious.”
Some have suggested that the decision by The Beast and Observer to publish Milo's "standard response to a request for comment" may have been irresponsible.
Why does @facebook and @instagram give Milo Yiannopoulos a verified platform?— KeL The Witch Hunter (@mamalocksy) June 28, 2018
SHAME ON @thedailybeast and @observer if you published article with such dangerous rhetoric by known racist, xenophobic, narcissistic, instigating piece of shit. #ShutItDown
Wait... (and no, by no means am I defending Milo) but this thing flying around was a text to a reporter, and not something he published or said publicly? & Observer chose to publish it?— Kevin D Jones (@Kevin_D_Jones) June 28, 2018
That detail hasn't really been mentioned in the twittersphere, and not public encouragement..
As we reported earlier, a 39-year-old Maryland man is the prime suspect in Thursday's shooting incident at the Capital Gazette.
He was identified using facial recognition technology, and local authorities are executing a search warrant on his home, NBC News reported, citing multiple senior law enforcement officials. And in a report that echoed the last assault on an American journalist - where a disgruntled former employee murdered one of his former colleagues on camera at a CBS affiliate in Virginia - CNN said the shooter had "previous interactions" with the newspaper.