Tony Ortega: “Uninformed Backpage Crusader”

Tony Ortega

At the Village Voice during the era of Backpage, the buck stopped with its Editor-At-Large, Tony Ortega. It turns out this fact is as important as it is damning because it means that nothing was printed in the alt tabloid weekly during his tenure which had not at some level met with his endorsement. And nowhere was this truer than when it came to the issue of mounting a propagandistic defense of the Backpage human trafficking syndicate.

Tony Ortega might be silent in recent years on the subject of Backpage and its rampant for-profit abuse against children and young women but back in 2012 when Backpage and the Village Voice Media corporation seemed untouchable Tony Ortega was singing a very different tune indeed.

An opinion piece first published on Wednesday, March 12 of 2012 under an intentionally anonymous “Village Voice Media” byline, Tony Ortega published an attack piece on venerated New York Times newsman, Nicholas D. Kristof. It was called, “What Nick Kristof Got Wrong: Village Voice Media Responds.”

Ostensibly written as a cheap clap-back for the unforgivable offensive of exposing Tony Ortega’s Village Voice to be the gleeful promoters of child sex trafficking many already understood them to be, the article was intended to be a point-by-point rebuttal of Kristof’s exposé which had then recently been published by The New York Times.

Needless to say, the shoddy Village Voice opinion piece was wildly unsuccessful in its ridiculous attempt to discredit The Times’s reporting and Kristof’s article would go on to inform the Senate’s decision to begin a full scale investigation into Backpage’s business practices.

As The Village Voice media is quoting as saying in the article:

“Backpage dedicates hundreds of staff to screen adult classifieds in order to keep juveniles off the site and to work proactively with law enforcement in their efforts to locate victims. When the authorities have concerns, we share paperwork and records and help them make cases.”

Really Tony? Hundreds of staff ‘dedicated’ to screening adult classified ads to “keep juveniles off the site?” As someone who seemed so intent on making Kristof look foolish for what your article referred to as a “concocted story to suit his agenda” your bald face lie is patently laughable.

How did your ‘hundreds’ of staff miss the horrifyingly staggering number underage children we’ve since learned were turned into sex traffic victims by the company paying your salary? Perhaps, to quote your failed assault on Kristof, you were flat “wrong about the most devastating ‘facts’.”

There’s simply no way to make sense of such an obviously false statement except to say that it was a lie, pure and simple. And you knew it was a lie, didn’t you Tony? You knew the truth wasn’t on your side and so you had no option but to try and smear the reputation of the reporter exposing you for waging, in the words of your article, an “uninformed crusade”.

Whether or not it was you yourself, Tony, who penned the piece is largely irreverent. Though there is more than ample evidence in the snarky tone and blasé know-it-all dismissal of an objectively superior journalist to suggest that you were its author, the simple fact that it was published under your editorial eye with your knowledge and endorsement makes you responsible for its content and culpable for its blatant deceitfulness.

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