NEW YORK• Leslie Jones, the Saturday Night Live and Ghostbusters actress who was temporarily chased off Twitter in July last year by an army of trolls hurling sexist and racist insults, was sure to have thoughts on Milo Yiannopoulos getting a book deal.
Yiannopoulos, an editor at the conservative news site Breitbart News, was considered somewhat of a ringleader when she was flooded with abuse, largely from men who appeared to be upset that women could bust ghosts as well as the men from the 1984 Ghostbusters original. He encouraged his thousands of followers to direct their ire her way and was permanently banned from Twitter for his role in the abuse.
But that did not stop Threshold Editions, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, from signing a book deal with him, which The Hollywood Reporter said the deal was worth US$250,000 (S$362,000).
Simon & Schuster defended its move on Twitter, saying that book deals did not amount to a corporate endorsement of the authors' viewpoints.
"But you still help them spread their hate to even more people," Jones responded on Twitter.
She did not return a message sent through a Saturday Night Live spokesman on Tuesday and Yiannopoulos did not respond to an e-mail.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, he sounded as surprised as anyone that he got the book deal.
"I met with top execs at Simon & Schuster earlier in the year and spent half an hour trying to shock them with lewd jokes and outrageous opinions," Yiannopoulos said. "I thought they were going to have me escorted from the building - but instead they offered me a wheelbarrow full of money."
Many critics of him protested after the deal was announced, accusing Simon & Schuster of encouraging hateful speech.
In a statement last week, Simon & Schuster said: "We do not and never have condoned discrimination or hate speech in any form.
"At Simon & Schuster, we have always published books by a wide range of authors with greatly varying, and frequently controversial, opinions, and appealing to many different audiences of readers.
"While we are cognizant that many may disagree vehemently with the books we publish, we note that the opinions expressed therein belong to our authors, and do not reflect either a corporate viewpoint or the views of our employees."
Yiannopoulos has long appeared to take glee in the protests of left-leaning commentators. He was an advocate for the GamerGate group, which often targeted feminists, and went on a speaking tour of college campuses to rail against "PC culture". He has bragged that "I don't have feelings to hurt".
"Every line of attack the forces of political correctness try on me fails pathetically," he told The Hollywood Reporter last week. "I'm more powerful, more influential and more fabulous than ever before and this book is the moment Milo goes mainstream. Social justice warriors should be scared - very scared."