Most of the mainstream media and the tech journalism world celebrated Twitter’s decision to ban Breitbart News tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos from Twitter on Tuesday evening, after complaints from Ghostbusters co-star Leslie Jones.
They did so despite any evidence that Milo had said anything to Jones beyond criticizing her movie and her responses to criticism. They also accused Milo — again, without evidence — of directing others to tweet racist and sexist abuse at Jones.
Worst of all, many of these media outlets actually celebrated Milo’s ban, dismissing concerns about free speech.
Below is a list — by no means exhaustive — of the mob-like responses, followed by a few notable exceptions:
Buzzfeed: Claim: Milo “incited his followers to bombard Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones with racist and demeaning tweets.” Proof: none — it links an article that has no tweets or comments by Milo. BONUS: Buzzfeed seems to concur with Twitter: “…this week he went too far.”
TechCrunch: Milo “urged on a hateful mob that harassed ‘Ghostbusters’ actress Leslie Jones to the point that she quit Twitter.” Proof: none. BONUS: Twitter “finally” banned Milo; it is still too “lackadaisical” on hate speech.
TIME magazine. Milo was “involved in a campaign of racial harassment.” Proof: He called Leslie Jones “barely literate.” Nasty, but not racist, especially given the quality of her many tweets.
Heatstreet. Jones “received racist tweets.” Acknowledges that “the alt-right provocateur [Milo] was not explicitly racist himself.”
New York Times. Jones suffered “…racist and sexist remarks … rallied and directed by Mr. Yiannopoulos this week.” Proof: none.
UK Guardian. Milo was banned “for his role in the online abuse of Leslie Jones.” No explanation of what that role was, other than criticizing her movie and over-sensitivity.
Associated Press: Cites Buzzfeed claiming that Milo “led the harassment campaign against Jones.” Proof: none.
Recode: “Yiannopoulos was harassing actress Leslie Jones Monday night.” Proof: “He tweeted that Jones was ‘barely literate’ and also referred to her as a man.” (Original tweets not included, so users are left to assume the worst.) Bonus: Recode celebrates Milo’s ban: “Getting Yiannopoulos off Twitter is a step in the right direction … a small victory.”
CNN: Milo “was seen as an instigator for the hate spewed at Jones.” Proof: “Yiannopoulos wrote a scathing review of Ghostbusters.”
International Business Times: Milo “called on his followers to attack actress Leslie Jones with racist tweets.” Proof: none.
Gizmodo: Milo was suspended “after inciting a campaign of racist harassment.” Proof: none. BONUS: “This is a step in the right direction for Twitter.”
The Verge: “[T]he infamous internet troll helped incite his followers to send a torrent of racist abuse to Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones.” Proof: none. BONUS: Milo is one of the “worst trolls” on Twitter, and banning him is “a good first step.”
Newsweek: “Jones accused Yiannopoulos of directing the abuse.” Proof of the underlying claim: none.
TheNextWeb: Milo suspended “for encouraging harassment against Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones.” Proof: none. BONUS: Twitter “bans him permanently – as it should.” Adds: “It is not strictly free speech that is at stake here, but basic human decency.”
Tech.mic: Milo was “[a]t the center [of the abuse].” Proof: none. BONUS: Celebrates that Milo “has finally been banned from Twitter.”
The Hill: “He is said to have sparked a wave of racist and sexist harassment.” Proof of the underlying claim: none.
Fusion: “Yiannopoulos inspired a rush of sexist, racist Twitter attacks against Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones.” Proof: Links to an article blaming Milo’s review of Ghostbusters. BONUS: applauds Twitter for “taking a stand.”
Honorable mention: Reason, Mashable, the Washington Post, Business Insider and the New York Daily News reported just the facts. Reason’s Robby Soave advised that Twitter “should consider restoring Yiannopoulos’s profile” if it was serious about being a public forum.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, will be published by Regnery on July 25 and is available for pre-order through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.