Why Tony Ortega Remains The State’s Crucial Witness

Tony Ortega Backpage.com Apologist

As we observed during our look back at the seriously suspect history of Tony Ortega’s ‘career’ as a propagandist for hire for the syndicate behind the child sex trafficking website Backpage, the truth is far stranger than any fiction Ortega has ever invented.

During his tenure at the Village Voice, Ortega was the most public-facing of the small army of apologists Backpage put on the payroll in an attempt to spin the fact they were selling children and vulnerable women on the margins on society for profit. These pay-for-play propagandists did everything they could to frame the organization paying their salaries as the ‘good guy’, unfairly set upon by advocacy activists seeking only to deprive Backpage of its so-called ‘right to free Speech’.

Notably, it was Tony Ortega who on multiple occasions would come to the public defense of Backpage, attacking other journalists, law enforcement – indeed, even the United States Congress — for seeking to get to the bottom of the online sex trade and Backpage’s facilitation of prostitution and human trafficking.

Ortega would proudly tout Backpage’s process of screening personal ads for illegal content, as if to suggest they were committed to doing due diligence in weeding out ‘the criminal element’. In fact, as we have seen, it was this very same ‘criminal element’ which was supplying the life blood (in the form of revenue generated from sexually explicit advertising) that kept Backpage’s profits soaring to heights unseen by any other online sex-selling platform.

It was precisely the process Tony Ortega employed that the Senate Subcommittee which had been designated the task of exposing Backpage criticized as working to, in the Subcommittees words: “…to sanitize the content of innumerable advertisements for illegal transactions—even as Backpage represented to the public and the courts that it merely hosted content created by others.”

It is for this reason that Tony Ortega’s association with Michael Lacey and James Larkin during this critical time makes his participation in their scheme so crucial to law enforcement and prosecutors.

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