“What the Hell Was This Guy Doing Running the Village Voice?”

What the hell is this guy doing running the Village Voice?That was a question on everyone’s lips the day Tony Ortega took over the role as Editor-in-Chief at the Village Voice. To see Tony Ortega stalking the same halls as Sidney Schanberg, Nat Hentoff, Robert Christegau, Jules Feiffer, and a lot of other eminent names in American letters, must have seemed at the time like a cruel joke.

Long gone were the Pulitzer, Guggenheim and the NEA prize winners who built The Village Voice name; by the time they wheeled Tony Ortega into his office the whole publication was on a countdown to implosion. They’d already burned their way through five editors in two years before finally resorting to Ortega and were facing an imminent bankruptcy. In short: they were just desperate enough to think Tony Ortega would be a wise hire.

How wrong they were.

As Tony Oretga infamously said of his position as dictatorial editor: “We made a decision some time ago that the only way wed 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.

 

Honestly Tony, “doing our best to piss off everybody..?” You, a con-man disguised as a journalist, who bristles the moment someone outs you as a “hack”? You, who have yet to produce a single piece of writing that isn’t thoroughly hackneyed and stale? You are going to lecture us about how your lofty First Amendment mission is to piss people off?

Setting aside the question of exactly what Tony Ortega hopes to accomplish ‘pissing people off’, we would like to point out that the above quote pretty much makes our argument for us. This recycled fratboy bravado act expresses exactly the sort of banal cliché people are talking about when they rightly identify Tony Ortega as a notorious hack.

Frankly it begs the question, “What the hell was this guy doing running the Village Voice?”

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