Can’t Seem To Get It Right

“I’m getting all wet here….”

Tony’s back in the cesspool, this time with a faux-outrage story about a Maryland teacher. From The Daily Cannibal:

Yikes!

A 23-year-old middle school teacher in Cambridge, Maryland was placed on administrative leave and “taken in for an emergency medical evaluation” after the Dorchester County Board of Education and Sheriff’s Office discovered he had written a novel about a school shooting — that is set 900 years in the future.

WBOC reports that English and Language Arts teacher Patrick McLaw wrote a novel called The Insurrectionist under the pseudonym “Dr. K.S. Voltaer.” According to its official description, novel begins “on 18 March 2902, [the day] a massacre transpired on the campus of Ocean Park High School, claiming the lives of nine hundred forty-seven individuals — the largest school massacre in the nation’s history.”

McLaw was suspended by the Dorchester County Board of Education pending an investigation and is no longer in the area. He is currently at a location known to law enforcement and does not currently have the ability to travel anywhere.”

A schoolteacher is whisked away by the authorities and held incommunicado because he has written a sci-fi novel about a mass school shooting? His home is searched for weapons and bombs; he is “placed on leave” by the school board, and the police will not disclose his whereabouts, he is “not able to travel anywhere,” although he is not under arrest?

Yikes again! What is the country coming to? Jack-booted thugs swooping down on a poor novelist and middle school teacher based on some book he wrote when he was 19? Yep! Sounds like a clear case of hysterical overreaction, and a gross violation of the teacher’s civil rights — to wit, freedom of speech, unreasonable search and seizure, habeas corpus and possibly, since he is black, there is more than a hint of racism.

At least, so we are advised by “Raw Story,” a general news blog covering everything from trendy diets to the latest outrages of the NYPD, whence came the quoted section above.

Well, maybe not.

Read the whole thing:

http://thedailycannibal.com/2014/09/04/raw-deal/

 

Tony Has A New Gig, and…

…Tony has a new boss.

From our friend nemo at The Daily Cannibal:

We looked in recently on Tony Ortega, late editor of the Village Voice, at his new assignment as “Executive Editor” at Raw Story, and couldn’t find much. Far from the sensationalist claptrap that typified his Voice rantings, his articles, which are few and far between, focus almost exclusively on Scientology and “gun violence.” In other words, Tony has chosen his villains well this time: one is an identifiable fraud, and the other appeals to a wide enough cut of hysterical monomaniacs as to guarantee him an enthusiastic audience, however mawkish and shrill his “I feel your pain” arpeggios may get.

The site itself is a kind of Gawker for grownups — but only in the sense that there is little in the way of commentary on the undergarments of teen idols, or the indiscretions of rap stars. Otherwise, it’s almost identical in terms of depth of content versus wattage of

emotional “look at me, aren’t I wonderful” paeans to right-thinking and vengeful dismissals of “not us/ergo not cool” wrong-thinking.

Still, it’s an improvement over Ortega’s last gig, which was noted chiefly for his willing stooge role for kiddie pimps Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey of backpage.com infamy, and his enthusiasm for running stories of the “Billionaire Marries His Own Daughter In Westminster Abbey” mode, with a wonderful indifference to fact or probability. But then, by the time Ortega left the Voice, there wasn’t much to leave. Most recently the rag announced further layoffs, and narrowly averted a strike by employees fed up with salary cuts and terrible coffee. There wasn’t really anywhere left to go but up.

But Raw Story doesn’t exactly stun the reader with its insights or opinions. If there is a hell for serious journalists, Gawker is probably it, but Raw Story isn’t far behind, and some could make a convincing case that Gawker occasionally runs lengthy pieces of admirable thoroughness and admirable investigatory complexity. No trace of this evidences itself at Raw Story.

As for Ortega, he continues to write his book about Scientology, now in the works for quite some time, and whose eventual release will be sure to dazzle those as yet unacquainted with the cult’s demonic avarice. Who these folks might be I cannot say, but Tony, they’re out there. They may be living in caves, clueless as wombats, but they’re your audience, and you deserve each other.

He’s Back, With A Dagger In It

I’m back!

Our friends at The Daily Cannibal have detected motion in the hitherto-lifeless corpse of Tony Ortega, which must have been fished out of the drink by the Haitian voodoo masters. The now-revivified corpse has resurfaced, buoyed by sacs of methane, at another blog.

Read all about it:

When Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey, the kiddie pimp owners of the Village Voice, finally shoved their apologist-in-chief Tony Ortega over the side of their sinking scow, bleeding from multiple stab wounds to the back and bludgeoned by an outraged public into a blessedly comatose state, we thought we had seen the last of him, but we were wrong.  His zombie washed back ashore, and has taken up residence at a blog called The Raw Story, a kind of minor-league “progressive” copycat of the Drudge Report.

Tony’s Dog

No bite for Kelly?

When Tony O pulled up stakes in Broward County, Florida to hit the big time in the Big Apple at the Village Voice, what did he leave behind?  Among other things, this former employee:

Kelly Cramer, author of the only really big story Ortega ever published, somehow got left out of Tony’s meteoric rise to the top of Village Voice Media.  But here’s her story.

Tony’s Girl

 

Let’s tell them…he married his daughter!

Another clip from the video deposition of Kelly Cramer, author of “Daddy’s Girl” — Tony O’s only big story at the Village Voice.  From the story:

Elena McMahan testified under oath that she never met you.  Never spoke to you.  Or to any other member of the press.

Yet you published a lengthy article detailing your interview with her.  Described her home in Pelham, New York.  The religious medallions on the dashboard of her car.  Her voice.  Her mannerisms.  Presumably you didn’t make this stuff up.  Yet right there, she either calls you a liar, or — let’s face it — very convincingly calls you a liar.  Did this get your to thinking at all?

Watch the Cramer video.  But only if you like watching people squirm.  Hell, you might squirm yourself.

McMahan Story Hoax Update

A startling development regarding Tony Ortega’s biggest hoax — the “Billionaire Bigamy/Incest” story he ran several times at the Village Voice — has some eye-popping video you may want to see in a new story running on another website.  Click here for the entire story.

From the story:

That’s where I spit the bit.  Every fable of this nature seems to have a moment where the inventors can’t resist adding some detail, some element, that shouts out “never happened.”  And the notion that Bruce McMahan and his biological daughter Linda somehow managed to find a secluded corner in the height of London’s tourist season in one of London’s most crowded landmarks and the covertly conduct a quickie marriage seems to me to be bullshit of the purest ray serene.

The story runs two video clips of a sworn deposition where the “Daddy’s Girl” and “Daddy’s Dog” Voice reporter Kelly Cramer is compelled to answer questions about the facts behind the stories.  These stories catapulted Ortega to the editorship of the Voice, and to this day, remain the most-read online Voice stories ever.

The author promises more clips from the deposition in the future.  We’ll keep you advised.

[Reprinted from The Daily Cannibal, which seems to notice these things:]

The Village Voice has appointed Will Bourne as its new editor in chief.  According to the Voice:

Bourne is a veteran writer and editor who got his start writing for Seven Days, a weekly NYC magazine (now dead) owned by Leonard Stern, who also owned the Voice at the time. He has served as the editor at large for Inc. since July. Prior to that, he spent almost five years as the editor of Fast Company, during which the magazine won both a George Polk Award and a Cunningham Award in 2009.

We wish Mr. Bourne well in his new position, as well as the other new recent arrivals at the Voice, music editor Brian McManus and film editor Alan Scherstuhl.  This may surprise those familiar with our longstanding disdain for this publication’s former management and editor, but the Voice has stated that it is under new management, and that its former proprietors, detestable kiddie pimp enablers Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey, no longer have any interest in the publication or in its parent, Village Voice Media.  Tony Ortega, who will mostly likely be remembered only for his willing complicity as Larkin and Lacey’s hatchetman-in-chief, firing the Voice’s most respected writers; and for his shameless head-up-my-bosses’asses, lip-smacking, shit-eating (okay, I’ll stop now)  defense of VVM’s backpage.com child prostitution racket, was unceremoniously dumped as editor prior to Larken and Lacey’s divestiture of VVM, and now enjoys an obscurity befitting his talents.

Mr. Bourne’s stint at Inc., although brief, commends him in particular, as its reputation for editorial quality and accuracy is among the best, largely thanks to Jane Berentson, who just stepped down as its editor in chief a few months ago.  We sincerely hope that Mr. Bourne and his staff can restore the Voice to some measure of its former glory as one of the country’s leading alternative newspapers.  With that, we bury the hatchet with the Village Voice and Village Voice Media, and, as soon as we can rouse our tech staff from its somnolence  we will delete our Village Voice Deathwatch category, re-titling it (for our archives) as “Tony Ortega Sleeps With The Fishes.”

 

What’s New, Kiddiepimp?

Larkin and Lacy on the prowl? For your kids?

The last we heard from the Village Voice Media folks, they were packing up and moving from the Village (as in “Greenwich Village” in New York City) to Denver.  But as for VVM’s bastard stepchild, backpage.com, we hear nary a whisper, which surprises us not at all.

If Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey have anything to say about it, we won’t be hearing much about backpage.com and its child-trafficking empire at all.  What backpage does is best done in the darkest loci, in the windowless rooms and back alleys of the internet, where backpage lurks like a feral beast, stalking its prey beyond the prying eyes of the law and the light of day.  And it doesn’t matter much where its operators sit, as its real location is in keyboards and flatscreens around the country — and, if Larkin and Lacey are to be taken at their word — soon, the world.

Lacey promised us in his last recorded interview that he and Larkin were building backpage into a “global” franchise, which gave us pause When the say “global,” what sorts of ads are we to think they mean?  Do they contemplate a major role advertising used porch furniture in Chile?  Art reproductions in Geneva?  Jute floormats in Ghana?

We’ll just have to see.  But as for the Denver move — this is not a good sign for Village Voice Media, as the old song goes:

“If you can make it here, you’ll make it anywhere.”  Looks like they failed the audition.

In this process it strangely follows the example set by its late editor, Tony Ortega, who has had two tryouts here in the Big Apple and ultimately flunked them both.  The first was way back when in the 70s, when he arrived here as a journalism student, only to be sent packing back to a less rarified atmosphere — specifically, Cal State Fullerton, whence he ultimate received his degree.  I’m sure CSF is a fine school, but it ain’t the Columbia School of Journalism, which spat Tony out like a watermelon seed.

Tony’s second tryout lasted a longer time, when, as the newly appointed editor of the Village Voice about six years ago, he implemented Larkin and Lacey’s slash and burn strategy for reviving the ailing American alt-journalism icon by firing the Voice’s only remaining Pultizer Prize winner (too expensive) and disgusting almost all of the rest of its masthead stars to such a degree that they resigned at a rate as regular as a triathlete’s heartbeat.

Near the end of his unfortunate and undistinguished tenure, Tony assumed the mantle of America’s shining knight in the battle against scientology, abandoning most of his editorial duties in a bizarre flurry of nonstop slags at the cult and its operators.  But it’s hard to play Sir Galahad when you’ve spent the last two years defending your bosses from a steadily-compounding pile of evidence of the child-prostuitution/human trafficking activities of their cash cow (backpage) with the flimsy claims and thin sophistries of a third-rate ward heeler.  Licking Larkin and Lacey’s boots did not ultimately avail him; at the end, they cut him loose with the same disdain they have shown to anyone else they have had dealings with.

So we decided to check up on who is now doing what.  Well, Ortega had found new life in his own blog, which, the last time we checked a few weeks ago, had six “likes.”  When we looked a few minutes ago, the blog was down, and we got the following message:

Welcome! This domain was recently registered at namecheap.com. The domain owner may currently be creating a great site for this domain. Please check back later!

Namecheap.com seems somehow poetically apt for anything involving Ortega, so we’ll just let that sit.  As for Village Voice  Media, we noted that they were advertising online for two new job openings in Denver, both involving low-level online ad marketing.  A quote from one applicant about his/her interview:

I arrived at the interview about 15 minutes early.  The publisher kept me waiting for almost an hour. I am glad I’m not working there….The publisher explained the pay structure and then asked me why would I want to have a downgrade in my career?  After that I ended the interview, perhaps I should have let him know that this position was not anything as it had been advertised. but then again why waste my time?

 

Frankly, we’re not sure what this really means, other than the very telling comment that  ”this position was not anything as it had been advertised.”  Why should this surprise us in the least?

And backpage.com, as we have noted, is slinking through the shadows still.  But we have invested in some night vision goggles, and we keep looking at them.  When they pounce, we’ll be there to see it.  We’ll let you know.

 

Same Old Village Voice?

Disgusted by backpage.com?

The fast shuffle dealt by Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey a couple of weeks ago doesn’t seem to be fooling anyone.  Larkin and Lacey had announced that they were selling Village Voice Media to a group of “private investors,” including several high-ranking VVM staffers  but retaining ownership and control of backpage.com, VVM’s highly profitable online child prostitution racket.

But, according to villagevoice pimps.com, six US senators have sent Larkin and Lacey — as well as Scott Tobias and Christine Brennan, who purportedly now head up the “divested” company —  a letter, which, among other things, demands:

“We insist that you take the steps necessary to terminate the prostitution advertising on Backpage, and we will continue to hold any current or former Village Voice Media subsidiaries and related successor corporate structures accountable until such action has been achieved.”

The senators signing the letter are Mark Kirk, Marco Rubio, Richard Blumenthal, John Cronyn, Richard Durbin and Daniel Akaka.– three Republicans and three Democrats.  It appears that some things do transcend party lines, and turning kids into zombie sex slaves probably ranks near the top of indisputable atrocity.  In a world where “indisputable atrocity” is widely justified, this is probably a good thing.

 

 

 

Backpage Lawyer: “Village Voice Media is committed to fighting human trafficking”

“Save the Children!”

“Today, I am still fighting cybercrime and human exploitation — but as general counsel for Village Voice Media Holdings, owner of Backpage.com.”

 Thus spake Liz McDougall, chief legal counsel to Village Voice Media, in a guest editorial published in the Seattle Times.

Backpage.com, the nation’s largest and most profitable online advertiser of so-called “adult” personal advertising, is staggering from a constant body-blow pummeling from all sides of American life — legal challenges, appeals from social organizations, demonstrations by civic groups, petitions from, among others, 48 state attorneys general, and a glare of media attention that increases with each passing day.

Its response:  it claims that, far from being a promoter of teenage prostitution, iit is on the front lines fighting it.

This is but one of the increasingly bizarre defenses that Backpage.com employs.  Past strategies included the now-notorious Tony Ortega “it’s really just not that big a thing” dismissal:

A small group of political activists is quite ready to provide the answer.  In the second decade of the 21st century, we are being told that there’s a widespread, growing, and out of-control problem to fear in our country.  And it has a catchy name: “trafficking.”

Next, there was the equally hilarious “well, at least we’re keeping them off the streets and out of danger” argument, also from Ortega.  Then we got the “we spend millions policing our site to prevent misuse.”  Yes — and you earn tens of millions from that same “misuse.”

Now we have Ms. McDougall, who found herself no longer need at Craigslist, her former employer, when they dropped their adult personals precisely because of this kind of “misuse.”  Both she and Craigslist’s pimps found a warm welcome at Backpage.com.

Ms. McDougall’s arguments are as shallow as they are facile.  A sampling:

To stop human trafficking online, you have to fight it online. To fight it online, you have to be online. And you need allies online.

This a bit like the old “I’m going to work for change from the inside” copout, but with a new twist.  Here, the argument seems to be that Backpage.com, by operating a schoolchild-sex trafficking website, is well-placed to keep an eye on these kinds of shenanigans.  Well, we can’t dispute that. But:

What, so far, have you done?  McDougall responds:

Backpage.com already employs a triple-tiered policing system that includes automated filtering and two levels of manual review of the adult and personal categories.

(Translation:  We have a couple of programs that look for words like “kid” and “Lolita” we paid a few bucks for, and they flag anything that screams “kids for hire.”  Then we have two people, or “levels” who eyeball thousands of ads doing pretty much the same thing.  That’s what we call “policing the website.”)

It also responds to law-enforcement subpoenas within 24 hours or less in almost all cases.

(When the cops call, we answer the phone, and we “respond” because we don’t want to go to the slammer.  Usually we do this pretty quickly, but sometimes we need extra time to cover our asses.)

It uses its own technological tools to voluntarily collect and submit additional evidence to law enforcement from across the Internet.

(Frankly, even we have no idea what kind of fluff and garbage we send the cops here.  It’s misdirection and distraction.  They just throw it out anyway.)

Finally, she offers us the “if we don’t do it, someone else will” excuse — with a conclusion that is as revolting as it is insulting:

Critics who instead call for Backpage.com to eliminate an “adult” category as the only solution to online trafficking miss the proven effect such measures have on online crime — they just drive it elsewhere. Specifically, shutting down cooperative U.S. online services drives criminal traffic to websites operating in the Internet underground and offshore (of which there are thousands).

There, traffickers and pimps can continue to advertise and sell their victims in the U.S., but the online-service providers are beyond care and frequently beyond legal jurisdiction to cooperate voluntarily or by mandate with U.S. law enforcement. The traffickers and their valuable online footprints become invisible again, and the victims remain lost on the Web and in the world — our world. It should be unthinkable.

It already is unthinkable, you toad!  Do you really expect anyone to swallow this?  Do you really mean to say that, by flogging these kids and their bodies all across the American web, you are somehow doing us all a favor?  Making the world safer?

And now, Larkin and Lacey have announced their intention to take Backpage.com global.  They seem to have heeded your advice, Ms. McDougall.  As and when those determined to shut down this hideous business here in the US succeeded, will Backpage.com be poised to operate it in greater safety and security from beyond our borders?

Well, maybe not.  After all, there are very few nations that have the same admirable and relaxed attitude towards free speech that we have here.  It is an attitude most of us cherish and wish to preserve, even in the  face of the costs  that McDougall, Larkin, Lacey and all these rest of the ghastly crew at Backpage.com present.  Backpage.com may find that even nations that wink at most other forms of crime and corruption may gag on the bitter brew that Backpage.com serves up.  We’ll see.

[Reprinted from The Daily Cannibal]