The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) rescinded Milo Yiannopoulos' invitation for the keynote speaker spot on Monday (20 February) after tapes of the Brietbart editor apparently advocating relationships between "younger boys and older men" caused a social media scandal. The right-wing provocateur has been accused of supporting paedophilia after questioning consent laws.
"Due to the revelation of an offensive video in the past 24 hours condoning paedophilia, the American Conservative Union has decided to rescind the invitation," Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the group which sponsors CPAC, said in a statement.
Schlapp continued: "We realise 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."
According to Politico, the group defended its decision to invite him as a speaker citing "the free speech issue on college campuses". Schlapp said that CPAC does not endorse "everything a speaker says or does".
Yiannapoulos defended himself on Facebook on Sunday (19 February) night and again the next day as criticisms from conservative circles continued to mount, the Washington Post reported.
"I do not support paedophilia. Period," he wrote. "It is a vile and disgusting crime, perhaps the very worst. There are selectively edited videos doing the rounds, as part of a coordinated effort to discredit me from establishment Republicans, that suggest I am soft on the subject."
He later conceded responsibility for how his remarks have been interpreted by some, the Post noted. "I'm partly to blame," Yiannopoulos wrote.
"My own experiences as a victim led me to believe I could say anything I wanted to on this subject, no matter how outrageous," he continued. "But I understand that my usual blend of British sarcasm, provocation and gallows humour might have come across as flippancy, a lack of care for other victims or, worse, 'advocacy.' I deeply regret that. People deal with things from their past in different ways."
A GOP source told Politico that CPAC organisers held a conference call at 1pm EST/6pm GMT to discuss how to address the controversy. The board reportedly only learned about the video after it surfaced. The source added the board considered Yiannopoulos' Facebook apology to be "inadequate" and unanimously decided to disinvite him.
The video also reportedly lost Yiannopoulos' his lucrative $250,000 (£200,500) book deal with Simon & Schuster. "After careful consideration, Simon & Schuster and its Threshold Editions imprint have canceled publication of Dangerous by Milo Yiannopoulos," the publisher said in a statement. According to USA Today, the book was set to be released in June.