Ortega is a Spanish surname. It derives from Latin urtica, meaning “nettle.”
Tony Ortega is a hack “journalist” who has spent his career in an apparent attempt to live up to the derivation of his name—a plant with stinging hairs that cause pain and irritation. “Journalist” is in quotes for reasons that will be obvious as you read on.
I must admit that I was completely unaware of Ortega until I read about him here on STAND and wondered: who is this person trying so hard to irritate my church?
Turns out he has a checkered past, consisting of many failed attempts to appear brighter than he is.
If you’re so inclined, you can read about him here. And here. And here.
The thing is, Ortega missed his calling. He claims to be a journalist, but his true vocation is fiction.
For example, as editor of the Broward New Times, he published a story a reporter brought him about a man who married his own daughter. There was only one slight problem: the man didn’t marry his own daughter. Ortega did no diligence, due or otherwise, on the story—he simply published it.
That didn’t go so well for him.
But Ortega already had a taste for tabloid fiction and a trail of it behind him, and he wasn’t about to stop.
His next step down the career ladder after his stint at the Broward New Times was to The Village Voice, from which he later “retired” in disgrace.
Writing under a pseudonym for New Times LA, he had earlier claimed that two teenaged girls who had been brutally raped were making plans to capitalize on their misfortune by starring in a reality TV show about it. The girls were real but the plans and the TV show were pure Ortega invention, as was a later fictional retraction where he—this time writing as an editor—apologized for the story and claimed the writer had been fired. The identities of the two girls were thus spread far and wide, to the detriment of their reputations. But that wasn’t Ortega’s problem, apparently.
Having done what damage he could in LA, Ortega packed up his bags and moved on to another unlucky publication, the Kansas City Pitch, where he wrote a story about the remains of Confederate soldiers found at a construction site in Kansas City. Again, pure fiction. There were no such remains—but the story was written convincingly enough that several prominent Kansas City citizens became very publicly upset before it was proven that the story was bogus.
Tony was summarily pitched from the Kansas City Pitch.
His next step down the career ladder after his stint at the Broward New Times was to The Village Voice, from which he later “retired” in disgrace after neglecting his editorial duties while obsessing about Scientology. There, he simultaneously served as apologist-in-chief for Backpage.com, the infamous sex-trafficking website he defended vociferously. The one that was taken down by the federal government.
It may be hard to spot the common denominator of all of Ortega’s flops, but I’ll tell you what I see.
That was the end of the line for Tony as an employee. As a nettle, it seems the ones he stung most were his employers.
So, having failed at any actual publications (and any actual investigation), Ortega descended to his current full-time job of being a religion-attacking barb from his little backwater blog.
It may be hard to spot the common denominator of all of Ortega’s flops, but I’ll tell you what I see: they each attempt to foment outrage over something that never happened.
And so he lives in his bunker, blogging on to oblivion, rendering his anti-religious rants—and ironically, but fittingly, exercising his true talent.
As a fiction writer.