Opinion: PewDiePie and the press, Milo and the media

Stephen D’Abreau

Stephen D'Abreau

Milo Yiannopoulos, officially the former senior editor of Breitbart News, and Felix Kjellberg – also known as his YouTube name, PewDiePie – share something in common: They have both just suffered significant injuries to their respective careers due to media backlash over jokes they have told.

Starting with PewDiePie, the absolute most popular YouTube content creator in history: He had his latest scandal blow up over Hitler jokes he told on his YouTube channel.

To anyone even nominally familiar with Felix, the accusations of anti-Semitism would be seen as quite ludicrous. Nevertheless, The Wall Street Journal leveled such accusations against him in what can only be described as a deliberately misrepresentative hit-piece, and then “encouraged” Disney to sever ties with the YouTube star.

The jokes themselves were perhaps in poor taste, but certainly innocent enough. Yet, the media created a scandal by lifting them out of context and then deliberately attempted to sabotage PewDiePie’s career.

Though this isn’t PewDiePie’s first scandal, the financial fallout of being disavowed by Disney is perhaps one of the worst he’s had. Felix has apologized for any offense he has given for his comedy but insists that The Wall Street Journal unfairly misrepresented him.

Similar to Felix, Yiannopoulos was at the center of what he deemed a witch hunt. The controversial provocateur was telling jokes in a podcast about clerical sexual abuse of children, and likewise had his comments lifted from context to make him seem to support pedophilia.

Never mind that Milo actually was joking about his own victimization and, as a journalist, has gone after and helped expose at least three pedophiles in the course of his career.

It may seem odd to joke about actual events of child sexual abuse in which you were a victim, and the remarks Milo made about this clearly traumatic experience were certainly uncomfortable and the darkest kind of humor.

Yet, it is Milo Yiannopoulos. However, he did apologize for his “imprecise wording” and apparent making light of child abuse, apologizing to victims like himself. He did insist “to be a victim of child abuse and for the media to call me an apologist for child abuse is absurd… This is a cynical media witch hunt from people who don’t care about children. They care about destroying me and my career… ”

From the fairly innocuous Kjellberg to the deeply controversial Yiannopoulos, the mainstream media networks do seem to carry a sense of misrepresentation. Personally, I watched both videos in full and in their original context to get a sense, and I can say in both situations, misrepresentation of dark comedy plays a role.

Poor taste comedy aside, I am concerned with the future of journalism. This kind of misrepresentation seems more and more common today, and even well respected outlets like The Wall Street Journal seem not to be immune to writing misleading gossip.

Subscribe to PewDiePie, or be annoyed by him. Love Milo, or hate him with a passion. Still, is it too much to ask for more journalists to stop being deceptive gossip peddlers?

Stephen D’Abreau is a columnist, contact him at [email protected].