For decades, Tony Ortega has served as a hellhound for the predatory and perverted.
Ortega’s predilection for defending the indefensible, notoriously revealed in his attack-dog tactics for Backpage.com while editor at The Village Voice, stretches back two decades when he was working at the New Times Inc. paper The Pitch in Kansas City.
A local news team at KCTV Channel 5 had produced an investigative series on pedophiles using internet chat rooms to trap children. The investigation was carried out in conjunction with a community organization which in 2003 began flushing out online predators by having volunteers in chat rooms pose as minors.
In the KCTV investigation, men who had chatted online with “girls” or “boys” arranged to meet with them at an address. When they arrived at the location expecting a sexual encounter with a minor, they were met with cameras rolling. During the series, the news team surprised and identified 16 predators.
The investigation led local law enforcement to increase policing of chat rooms and prosecutions of their denizens.
But Tony Ortega threw support to the predators while attacking the station, accusing KCTV of trying to “scare” viewers. Ortega called the reporter behind the series a “dumbass” and wrote that “Channel 5 has now established beyond a doubt that if your 14-year-old is hankering for oral sex and a six-pack of beer from a flabby geriatric, satisfaction is just a few keystrokes away.”
Ortega subsequently devoted six pages of The Pitch to the defense of one of the men caught who claimed entrapment. But Ortega’s rant in support of pedophilia did not stop there. Through the ensuing year, Ortega continued to harangue the station, writing about “the pervert-obsessed ways of KCTV Channel 5,” its “lurid investigations,” and its “sleazy ratings ploy.”
Ortega’s agenda was transparent—give predators free rein to indulge their criminal perversions at the expense of children, while vilifying those who sought to unmask them and bring them to justice.
Mythology describes hellhounds as guardians of the underworld, demons in the guise of dogs who serve as heralds of death. Given his long track record defending predators and their deviant practices, hellhound perfectly describes Tony Ortega.
He is no less the harbinger of evil today than he was two decades ago. Ortega’s pattern has not changed, only the names of those he denigrates—and those he panders to.