“If You Can’t Beat ‘Em With Truth, Lie More Loudly”

Today we return to the in-depth look we’ve been taking a look at a telling editorial published by CNN in the early days of Backpage, some six years before the sex trafficking platform’s federally-enforced shutdown.

We say ‘telling’ because it is simply remarkable to look back at contemporary reporting at the time Backpage began its rise and see that from the beginning, Tony Ortega’s shady work to help obscure Backpage’s true objective: to profit from the victimization of underage children by selling them to be sexually exploited by perverts online. 

Even in 2012, the writing was already on the wall for Backpage and its co-conspirators.

As CNN noted in its piece:

What has particularly upset law enforcement officials and attorneys general, however, is that these listings have been used by underage prostitutes and the pimps selling them. Some of the listings also come from brothels whose workers are either illegal aliens or trafficked sex slaves. 

Cleary, even then, the existence of such Backpage listings were already being called out by a concerned public. 

Contrary to Ortega’s attempts to sanitize the Backpage business model of promoting prostitution (a highly illegal activity in its own right) and child sex slavery (an even more heinous and intolerable crime), the truth about Backpage was being exposed by national media outlets.

Most notably among them, Nicholas Kristof wrote a scathing piece in The New York Times, calling Backpage a “godsend to pimps, allowing customers to order a girl online as if she were a pizza.” 

Blowing up the carefully crafted cover story Backpage empty sock-puppets like Tony Ortega had been parroting, Kristof went on to list examples young girls trafficked through the site, including several who were as young as 13. 

Predictably, Tony Ortega’s response was to avoid the facts surrounding the claims and go on a personal attack in the hopes of muddying the waters and misdirecting public. 

After all, Tony Ortega’s go-to move when challenged has always seemed to be: If you can’t beat them with truth, lie more loudly.

The Village Voice — then, very much in the waning days of Tony Ortega’s editorial dictatorship — tried to throw mud on the Times reporting, brazenly seeking to dismiss it as “Kristof’s uninformed crusade”. 

This lead to something of a back-and-forth between Kristof, two-time Pulitzer winning reporter, and known prevaricator and tabloid pseudo-journalist, Tony Ortega. We will turn to the subject of this exchange in greater detail in future updates. 

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