The 7 most shocking details from Buzzfeed’s Breitbart exposé

A story about the right-wing website reveals a saga of Nazi passwords, secret sympathisers and Milo Yiannopoulos' ghostwriter.

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An investigation by Buzzfeed News has revealed that far-right website Breitbart has private connections with white nationalists, neo-Nazis and some journalists in the liberal media. In June, Breitbart denied a connection to the alt-right, and the executive chairman of Breitbart (and former White House chief strategist) Steve Bannon has long denied accusations that the site panders to racist views.

Now, Buzzfeed’s Joseph Bernstein has reported on a cache of documents which appear to show that former Breitbart tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos used passwords linked to Nazism, and performed karaoke at a bar in front of "alt-right" leader Richard Spencer. The article also details how, according to the leak, liberal journalists (most notably Mitchell Sunderland, a senior staff writer at Vice’s feminist vertical Broadly) emailed Yiannopoulos with tips to feature on Breitbart.

It is certainly worth reading the report in full, but here are the 7 most shocking details from the investigation.

1. Yiannopoulos​ sang “America the Beautiful” to a crowd raising their arms in Nazi salutes

A previously unseen video shows that in April 2016 Yiannopoulos sang karaoke, and in response some people in the crowd gave him Nazi salutes.

Yiannopoulos has told Buzzfeed News that his “severe myopia” meant he never saw the salutes.

2. And he used a ghost-writer

Nearly two years ago, Yiannopoulos wrote a feature defining the "alt-right". To do so, he reached out to a system administrator of the neo-Nazi site the Daily Stormer and an editor of the white nationalist site American Renaissance. (Yiannopoulos said in his response to Buzzfeed that "I disavow white nationalism and I disavow racism and I always have".)

But instead of writing the piece, Yiannopoulos forwarded his research to his deputy Allum Bokhari.

3. Steve Bannon was instrumental in creating Milo Yiannopoulos, the brand

Yiannopoulos is now one of the biggest and most outspoken personalities associated with the alt-right, and Steve Bannon helped make it so. Initially irritated by his coverage, Bannon prompted Yiannopoulous to become a “war correspondent in the west” and “go help save western civilization”.

4. Steve Bannon types like a teenage boy with a war fetish

“Dude!!!”, “LMAO!”, “Epic” and “#war” are all things typed by this 63-year-old man, according to the leaked emails.

Yiannopoulos in turn called Bannon “chief”, while Bannon told him to “[be] who u are”.

5. Breitbart and Yiannopoulos have deep links with the Mercer family

Billionaire Robert Mercer is an acknowledged funder of Breitbart, but Buzzfeed’s report also shows how the family emailed in stories for the site to cover, while Bannon hoped they could provide Yiannopoulos with security. 

6. Breitbart has a lot of secret sympathisers

A former NASA employee emailed Yiannopoulos to complain of being fired by his “fat female boss”, and he also received email thanks from academics, film editors, and a Twitter software engineer, according to the report.

Shockingly, a handful of people in the liberal media corresponded with Yiannopoulos. Mitchell Sunderland of Broadly emailed him a story about Lindy West with the words “please mock this fat feminist”. (Sunderland has not tweeted since the article came out.) The article also claims that former Slate reporter David Auerbach gave Yiannopoulos information about the love life of Anita Sarkeesian, a GamerGate target, among other stories - Auerbach has said that the claim is "categorically false"

7. Yiannopoulos uses passwords based around the Nazis

Bokhari, Yiannopoulos’s ghost-writer, claimed in an email that the tech editor had a password beginning with the word “Kristall”, while another email showed that Yiannopoulos used “LongKnives1290” as a password. These are possibly allusions to Kristallnacht and the Night of the Long Knives, Nazi acts of violence, while 1290 is the year Jews were expelled from England.

Amelia Tait is a freelance journalist, and was previously the New Statesman's tech and digital culture writer. She tweets at @ameliargh