Tony Ortega’s Readers Respond: “This is Horrifying”

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In our last installment we began to make the case that Tony Ortega’s role as Editor-At-Large at the Village Voice made him the final word on what was published in that paper concerning the defense of Backpage. As we concluded then, the words he published he bears responsibility for, whether he was the original author or not.

It seems that Tony Ortega’s readership agreed with us, as was evidenced by the outrage in the form of angry letters addressed to Ortega after he had the gall to publish an unhinged attack on Nicholas Kristof. Ortega’s attempted take-down piece came in the wake of a New York Times article written by Kristof which exposed Backpage’s complicity in the underage sex trafficking ring that would ultimately see its offices forcibly shut down and its CEO’s arrested.

A sampling of several of Village Voice readers comments detail the shock and horror they felt to read Tony’s pathetic efforts to justify the unjustifiable.

As one reader wrote to Ortega:

“Okay, so, you work with the law to locate victims, but how about locating the perpetrators? How about ensuring that no advertiser is, in fact, involved in the sex trade. How many cases has Village Voice prosecuted? In case you folks were unaware, there’s a war going on against women in this country, headed up mainly by the far right. But this is a different front in the war, one in which “progressive” entities such as Village Voice is wittingly or unwittingly playing a part. How about this: *eliminate sex ads altogether.* Craigs List (sic) did, and so should you. Period. End of story.”

Exactly. Despite Ortega’s claims that “hundreds of staff” were dedicated to keeping juveniles off the site and tasked — per the article — to work “proactively with law enforcement in their efforts to locate victims,” there is so far no evidence at all to suggest that Village Voice did any of either.

This fact was not lost on his readers, who went on say:

“This is horrifying. You are basically defending your right to continue supporting forced prostitution and sexual slavery. Even though what you’re profiting from is tragic and a violation of human rights. Is that what the Village Voice now stands for now? I certainly hope not.”

You, Tony Ortega, were doing precisely that weren’t you? By “defending your right to continue supporting forced prostitution and sexual slavery” you directly endorsed and contributed to the same victimization of children your corporate masters were profiting off of.

The point we made remains unanswered and uncontested: as Editor-At-Large it was Tony Ortega who oversaw and implemented the public propaganda campaign to exonerate Backpage. As such, we at the blog argue he is just as responsible for the “tragic violations of human rights” as anyone.

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