On Tarantulas, Scorpions And Finding Ortega’s Niche

We’ve had a good laugh reading an article written about Tony Ortega by the former rag (Phoenix New Times) that once employed his services as a tabloid hack. Beneath the multiple layers of ridiculousness ripe for satirizing, however, it’s clear the piece was meant to make a point.

And as with so much that involves Tony Ortega, the point it’s trying to make is mired in deceit, mistruths and a whole mess of lies. To that end, instead of mocking The New Times for how badly their attempt to rehabilitate Ortega’s irredeemably tarnished image backfired on them we’re going to do what any editor worth their salt really ought to have done in the first place — we’re going to fact

Right out of the gate the staff writer in question lets his readers know that he’s coming from the Tony Ortega school of ‘journalism’, where the truth doesn’t matter and the facts are whatever we dream up along the way. 

Consider how the writer introduces Ortega to his audience:

“In conversation, Ortega loves to tell war stories about his 20 years as a journalist. He is the consummate investigative reporter – terse and confident, a vault of provocative facts and anecdotes.”

Ok, we’re going to stop you right there. War stories? More like fisherman tales, as conversation with Tony Ortega about his accomplishments is likely to include more self-aggrandizing anecdotes about big ones that got away than “provocative facts”. Like his self-published book that he thought would make him famous if only it hadn’t tanked so hard. Or his self-published blog that has languished, unvisited, unremarked upon, in some dark corner of the web all these lonely years.

But all that is beside the point. Note the lie at the heart of this introduction. Tony Ortega the consummate investigative reporter? Who in the world would be foolish enough to buy that?! 

Tony Ortega is a man who has long history of inventing fake scandals to write about, inventing fake ‘witnesses’ to corroborate his fantasies. 

There is no real journalist in the world who would mistake Ortega for a professional, let alone the example of a consummate investigative journalist

Do any of those words apply to Ortega, even in jest??

Fortunately, the writer lets Tony Ortega demonstrate for his readers precisely the kind of ‘consummate’ newsman he is, allowing him to brazenly misrepresent himself for all the world to see.

Ortega brags :

“I was an early champion of blogs…I felt that the alt-weeklies had developed the same voice you use for blogs and the Internet. When I saw what was happening online, I was like, ‘We should be dominating this. This is how we have always written.’”

If by, “dominating this” by writing the same sort of rumor-centric hearsay and flat out libel you’ve always written, then sure. We agree with Tony Ortega there.

Ortega continues:

“Not everyone in our industry was thrilled by blogging at first. But I remember thinking, ‘You guys don’t understand.’ What’s really cool is that some people who write blogs are complete experts in one little niche, in a way that a reporter at a paper can never hope to be. Here is a guy who is doing nothing but keeping an eye on, say, wildlife in Arizona. That’s all he writes about. That’s every story he posts…”

So, Ortega stole the idea to be fixated on Scientology from a guy who blogs incessantly about wildlife in the Arizona desert? Tarantulas and scorpions may be very on brand for a wannabe journalist like Tony Ortega, but let’s get real here, he is nobody’s idea of ‘a complete expert in one little niche’. 

Unless that niche is getting fired and living off the earnings of his wife (Arielle Silverstein) and her wealthy parents. In that case, he has certainly found his area of expertise.

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