Students

Speaking at Berkeley With Milo Yiannopoulos? It’s News to Them

September 15, 2017

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Several prominent figures listed as booked for “Free Speech Week” at the U. of California at Berkeley said they had not made any such commitment. Milo Yiannopoulos (pictured) plans to hold the event from September 24 to 27.
The list of speakers slated to appear at Milo Yiannopoulos’s "Free Speech Week" this month at the University of California at Berkeley is a who’s who of right-wing personalities most likely to enrage liberal-leaning students.

Ann Coulter, the provocative commentator. Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s former chief strategist. David Horowitz, ubiquitous in his many crusades. Even a former Google engineer whose only claim to fame is writing a screed that got him fired.

Yet several of the people on the list say they will not be speaking at the event, and in some cases weren’t even contacted about speaking there. Among them is Charles Murray, the scholar at the center of a fracas in March at Middlebury College that left a professor injured.

“I would never under any circumstances appear at an event that included Milo Yiannopoulos.”
"The inclusion of my name in the list of speakers was done without my knowledge or permission," Mr. Murray wrote in an email to The Chronicle. "I will add that I would never under any circumstances appear at an event that included Milo Yiannopoulos."

Asked why he wouldn’t appear with him, Mr. Murray said: "Because he is a despicable asshole."

Angela Trostle, a spokeswoman for the event, said that Mr. Murray had been included on the list of confirmed speakers due to a clerical error and that organizers had apologized to him. "Professor Murray, of course, remains invited to speak, as we hold his work in high esteem, but we do not have confirmation at this time," Ms. Trostle wrote in an email.

An email account run by Mr. Yiannopoulos’s camp responded to a request for comment by saying he understood there had been some errors with some speakers, but added: "Our headliners are locked and loaded however. Any mix-ups will be rectified by Monday." The event is scheduled for September 24 to 27.

Heather Mac Donald, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, was included on the list of speakers, but she said on Twitter she would not participate.

Another, the author Michael Malice, said on his Twitter feed that he would not attend the event. He is listed on The Daily Californian’s website as one of the slated speakers, but not on the Berkeley Free Speech Week website. Mr. Murray’s name had been removed from the event website as of Friday afternoon.

The Headliners

The Berkeley Free Speech Week’s headliners include Mr. Yiannopoulos, Mr. Bannon, and Pamela Geller, the editor and publisher of the website Geller Report. Ms. Coulter and Mr. Horowitz were also on the list, and they had both been scheduled to speak at Berkeley this year, though their events were ultimately canceled. Mr. Yiannopoulos was supposed to speak at Berkeley in February, but his appearance was canceled following protests that turned violent.

Some of the newly announced speakers, however, confirmed they would be at the event, including Lucian Wintrich, a journalist with Gateway Pundit, and Mike Cernovich, an author who has helped to spread conspiracy theories.

Dan Mogulof, a university spokesman, declined to confirm any of the speakers, saying that was the responsibility of the student group, the Berkeley Patriot, that was organizing the event. He also said that the group was behind in meeting several important deadlines to sign contracts to use campus venues.

“The university cannot proceed with plans to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on security based on a press release.”
"The university cannot proceed with plans to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on security based on a press release," he said. "And that’s all we have right now. And based on what media outlets are reporting, it’s hard to know what’s fact or fiction."

Pranav Jandhyala, news editor for the Berkeley Patriot, told The Daily Californian that his group was aware of the deadline problem and was attempting to rectify it.

"The Berkeley Patriot was under the impression that those speakers were confirmed, and it’s seeming like some speakers didn’t know that they were invited," Mr. Jandhyala said. "That’s a big issue, and we’re going to try to figure this out with Milo and his team."

Chris Quintana is a breaking-news reporter. Follow him on Twitter @cquintanadc or email him at chris.quintana@chronicle.com.