Backpage Fooled No One, Even Then

The spotlight we’ve been focusing on the final days of Tony Ortega at the Village Voice has brought a lot of shady business to light. With the benefit of 20/20 vision the reckless criminality of Backpage and the cavalcade of villains like Tony Ortega it gave rise to, are only too obvious today. But all of this got us wondering what people were saying about the events surrounding Backpage as they were unfolding.

What we discovered didn’t exactly shock us, but it come as a bit of reassuring surprise — media observers knew from the beginning it was bad news.

Consider this snippet from a local New York media watchdog blog from early 2012 on the occasion of the Village Voice’s sneaky attempt to legally distance itself from Backpage: “Village Voice Media announced today that it is spinning off, its controversial classified ad website, from its core media holdings. But it’s just another Larkin/Lacey scam.  Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey, the two principals of VVM, will retain their controlling interest in, which will continue its revolting practice of “adult” advertising.  Village Voice Media will be “sold” to an unidentified group of “private” investors, and will reemerge as “Voice Media Group,” which will own the remainder of VVM publications and websites.

A full eight years before the Feds would raid the Backpage, effectively ending its reign of filth, it was already an open secret that the whole things was a scam! Even then it was understood that Larkin and Lacey were angling to retain possession and keep operating their remarkably lucrative cash cow Backpage sewer by divorcing it from their Village Voice Media business.

Even in 2012 a wide front of law enforcement officers, community groups, and activists were seeking to shut down the Backpage sex trafficking empire.   Of course, their goal was to shut it down — not spin it off, change its name, or send it to another room. The announcement of the ‘shell-game style’ reorganization did nothing whatever to address the core issue, namely that Backpage was a criminal enterprise designed to make money by selling the bodies of schoolchildren.  

Advocates against the company Tony Ortega bent over backwards to endorse understood nothing had changed with this move — nothing except the scope.  According to a statement released at the time by the company: “ will become the centerpiece of a new online classified advertising company with business worldwide.”

Backpage would now be offering child prostitution on a global scale and it was about to kick the Tony Ortega pro-kiddie prostitution propaganda machine into high gear.

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