Update: Police at the University of Colorado Boulder continue to look into reports about an e-mail sent to ticket holders for a Wednesday night address by alt-right shit-stirrer Milo Yiannopoulos, threatening that "the identities of attendees will be released to the public on a list of known Neo-Nazi sympathizers." See our previous coverage below.
But while the inquiry is ongoing, investigators have already concluded that the e-mail wasn't sent out as the result of an online hack. Rather, they believe that the culprit was one of the attendees.
"Ticketing was handled through the Eventbrite website and did not involve CU technology infrastructure," CU Police Department Public Information Officer Scott Pribble writes in an e-mail to Westword. "We have learned that the College Republicans student organization sent an e-mail Monday to attendees with event information, but those attendees’ e-mail addresses were listed in the ‘To’ field and not blind carbon-copied."
As a result, Pribble continues, "We believe that someone on that list sent or helped to send an offensive e-mail to the rest of the recipients. While CUPD is still investigating, at this time they do not believe an online hack occurred."
If investigators are right, this methodology suggests two potential scenarios. It's possible that someone who objects to Yiannopoulos and his rhetoric, which is widely derided as sexist and hate-filled, secured a ticket and then used access to the e-mail list to send a legitimate threat to other attendees. On the other hand, it could have been distributed by a Yiannopoulos loyalist in the hope of making protesters of the sort who demonstrated against the event and confronted Milo trolls (three people were arrested) look stupid, reactionary and hypocritical.
By the way, neither Yiannopoulos nor any of his representatives have responded to multiple Westword requests for comment at this writing. Continue to see our earlier report.
Original post, 10:23 a.m. January 26: Wednesday night's appearance by alt-right provocateur and Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos at the University of Colorado Boulder prompted protests and three arrests, as well as claims by ticket-holders that they'd been sent an e-mail, shared on Reddit, threatening that "the identifies of attendees will be released to the public on a list of known Neo-Nazi sympathizers."
Are reports that Yiannopoulos's e-mail list was hacked accurate? If so, was the message sent by opponents of the sort who held banners at last night's demonstration reading, among other things, "Punch Nazis"? Or was it the work of Yiannopoulos subordinates or supporters, who saw it as a way of needling those who despise what critics see as his racist and sexist rhetoric?
Thus far, no definitive answers are forthcoming. We have reached out to Yiannopoulos, as well as to his publicist and chief of staff, but have received no reply. We'll update this post if and when any of these folks respond.
In the meantime, CU Boulder spokesman Ryan Huff released this statement about the e-mail matter: "We are aware of this situation and our Police Department is investigating."
Huff also shared a comment from Chancellor DiStefano about the event as a whole: "As we’ve said all along, when students invite speakers to come to campus, they are protected by the First Amendment to express their views. That doesn’t mean we agree with them, especially this speaker. We feel strongly that discrimination and harassment have no place on our campus. And we will continue to denounce those who spread that message."
There was no shortage of trolling at the protest itself, as gleefully documented on Yiannopoulos's own YouTube channel; see the video evidence below. And he's no stranger to hacking controversies.
Recall that he was banned from Twitter this past August after Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones's personal website was hacked. Her license, passport and nude photos were among the leaked items.
Before long, Yiannopoulos was identified as either a possible suspect or a potential instigator of this violation.
In statements to the press, he maintained that he was distressed to hear about what had happened, but the story was different on Snapchat, to which he migrated after the Twitter ban. For one post, he wrote, "Shit just heard about Leslie Jones. Had no idea!!! Ignore that karma thing lol." He also posted one photo that said "Karma's a bitch" and another with him covering his mouth.
More controversy cropped up on Yiannopoulos's current speaking tour — and violence, too.
At the University of Washington on January 20, a man was shot and injured by a former UW student who'd sent Yiannopoulos a Facebook message while waiting in line at the event before pulling the trigger.
Passions were high at CU, as well, with Yiannopoulos minions baiting those who turned up to decry him by ripping signs from their hands or holding up placards that mocked them.
And then there was the e-mail, posted on "the_donald" Reddit page (Twitter handle: @theDonaldReddit).
The unedited intro reads: "I go to CU Boulder, and got a student ticket to see Milo Yiannopoulos speak tonight. I, along with all ticketholders, just got this disgusting email. The Liberals trying to shut him down tonight don't understand the irony of protesting against fascism as they shut down other opinions. Sad!"
Here's the e-mail.
At present, the post has a Reddit score of 18,093 points (57 percent of respondents up-voted). Hundreds of comments have been posted, most of them sympathetic to Yiannopoulos and nasty toward "yuppie fake hippies" and "rich women who drive German cars and raise awareness for Bernie."
Thus far, no one has claimed responsibility for sending the e-mail, and no evidence has surfaced to definitively tie it to either Yiannopoulos haters or those who hang on his every syllable and might want to use the incident to spread disinformation, fake news-style.
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Either way, we have a feeling Yiannopoulos is thrilled.
Below, view a video of Yiannopoulos's entire event, which was titled "Why Ugly People Hate Me." That's followed by a clip in which "Milo Fans Troll Milo Protesters," as shared on Yiannopoulos's YouTube channel.