The Basest Of Conceivable Scoundrels

Sometimes in the mad onrush of history we default into a sort of complacent read of events. Much of the shock of ‘breaking news’ at the time is lost on us as years pass and the calamitous impact of ‘events as they happen’ is dulled. This week we’re going to try something a little different here at the blog. We’re going to be jumping back in time as it were, to examine the contemporaneous reporting surrounding Tony Ortega and the part he played for the Backpage organization. As news detailing Backpage’s sordid underage sex trafficking ring began to break, their propaganda arm (in the form of one Tony Ortega) geared up to convince us all that it was no big deal.

CNN was the first major televised news outlet to run with the story, and they began their exposé on Tony and his friends this way:

“When Craigslist pulled the plug on its adult services section last summer, it stepped out of a raging controversy over accusations its site had become a marketplace for pimps to sell underage girls. The ads left Craigslist, but they didn’t go away.

Many simply migrated to other websites, most notably, backpage.com. Backpage is owned by the Village Voice Media group.

The report further alerted the nation that an internet research firm called the AIM Group had just uncovered the website’s adult ad revenues jumped to $2 million in December, up more than 25 percent from the previous month.

This was the first red flag, and despite all Tony Ortega’s failed attempts at downplaying the issue, the cat was already out of the bag.

Something fishy was going on and the media outlets were quick to pounce.

CNN was days away from airing a report titled, “Selling the Girl Next Door,” which would focus on the online child prostitution business, naming and shaming Backpage as the driving force behind the growing epidemic.

Awareness of what Backpage was up to was about to go mainstream.

The media would have much more to say on the subject following the airing CNN Backpage report. But in this moment, just the bare facts outstripped whatever commentary could be brought to these revelations.

The facts would them speak for themselves and were more than enough: Child sex trafficking.   $2,000,000 in December. 

Depravity on this scale had been unimaginable until the reckless pimps in charge at the Village Voice Media figured out how to pervert the wonder of the internet into a tool for the basest of conceivable scoundrels.

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