Past as Prologue

Tony Ortega at the time of his expulsion from Savannna High School

Tony Ortega has long, sordid history as an internet troll attacking Scientology even as he worked to defend The Village Voice’s Backpage.com, the now infamous sex trafficking platform he supported during his time as editor.

It may not come as much of a surprise to learn that this pattern of behavior Ortega has displayed in recent years was very much a hallmark of his youth as well.

Writing for the Columbia Daily Spectator back in February of 1982, Andrew Frank detailed the strange case of Tony Ortega’s expulsion from Savannna High School the previous year.

While working as editor of his school paper during his senior year, Tony Ortega wrote a hit piece ‘exposing’ the efforts of a number of football players’ parents who were attempting to remove the team coach. Having failed to receive approval from the school’s principal before publishing, Ortega quickly found in himself in hot water with the school’s administration.

Rather than apologizing for his lack of journalistic integrity and stepping down from his editorial duties, Ortega chose to double down, distributing leaflets he claimed would explain the content of the article and expose the school’s supposed Orwellian motives for censoring his important article. He was expelled when caught in the act of libeling the Anaheim Union District Board of Trustees, the school board that oversaw Savanna High, while on school property.

The proceeding humiliation Ortega would experience as a result of the expulsion for his admitted ‘yellow journalism’ caused him, in Ortega’s own words, to suffer ‘a trauma that left marked traces on my personality, turning me against journalism’.

Andrew Frank writes: “So what happens when a self-confessed muckraker who hates the world turns against journalism? For answer to that question one need look no further than the sordid “professional career” of one Tony Ortega.”

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