Staying in the Hate Game

We made a decision some time ago that the only way we’d continue to stay in this game was to focus not on the same old political essay writing but on original reporting, surprising our readers by not being predictable, and by doing our best to piss off everyone — right, left, and center.” Tony Ortega Editor-in-Chief, Village Voice

When Backpage had its domain seized by Federal authorities recently it may have appeared to be a sudden unexpected twist nobody saw coming. In reality the takedown was the culmination of a long, sustained effort undertaken by authorities and aided by public outrcy. As The Daily Beast noted:

Year after year, Backpage continued to come under fire. Attorneys general from 48 states wrote a letter asking Village Voice Media to take down Backpage’s adult ads, citing “the company’s facilitation of the sexual exploitation of children.” The letter continued, We have tracked more than 50 instances, in 22 states over three years, of charges filed against those trafficking or attempting to traffic minors on Backpage. These cases often involve runaways ensnared by adults seeking to make money by sexually exploiting them. In some cases, minors are pictured in advertisements.”

And it wasn’t just Attorneys general who began campaigning against Ortega’s Backpage CNN and celebrities like Ashton Kutcher soon joined the crusade to shut down the online sex trafficking factory Tony Ortega helped create when he launched Backpage from printed page to webpage, giving it an overnight audience of millions across the globe.

True to form, Ortega at once began a disinformation campaign meant to malign both CNN and Kutcher, saying of the latter: “He is a technically literate, if ill-informed, advocate. Kutcher made his bones playing the prankster, dummy, and stoner” adding, “[i]t’s the old hippie ideal of endlessly pushing a lefty agenda to keep up your ‘movement’ cred. Hey, good luck with that. But I live in a cutthroat town, and I have salaries to pay.”

How little has changed in all these years. These days, however, instead of rallying against those who would end the underage sex trade, Ortega has chosen a new target to rage against in Scientology. It’s almost as if he is obsessed by a dark need to continually be hated, abandoning any pretense of journalism in favor his newly adopted motto: “Truth be damned, so long I piss everyone off.” An ugly part to play but Tony Ortega seems hellbent on staying in the game.

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