Who would try to save their rapidly-sinking scow by throwing the women and children overboard?  When Tony Ortega feels the heat, that seems to be his first reaction.

When Ortega was subpoenaed to testify (under oath, this time) how he came to print the whacky smorgasbord of manufactured “evidence,” half-truths and outright inventions that comprise his Bruce McMahan smear, three things happened immediately:

  • First, unsurprisingly, he bawled like a baby in a long-winded and predictably puerile rant insisting that McMahan had no right to defend himself.
  • Second, the Voice’s blog brownshirts immediately began flash-spamming the internet with reprints of Ortega’s smear to try to pressure McMahan into backing off.
  • Third — and you won’t believe this one — McMahan’s children and grandchildren began receiving email taunts and insults after at least one blogger reprinted their email addresses.

We have to admit to a certain admiration here — just when we thought that there were no darker depths he could possibly plumb, Ortega finds a deeper fissure, and dives for it like a coprophage into a latrine.

Let’s take these items in reverse order.  First, as to the email attacks:

My God, Mr. Ortega!  Siccing your thugs on the kids and grandkids?  Do you have children of your own?  Do you have parents, or, like some creature of Greek mythology, did you spring fully-formed from the womb of a harpie?  Happily, according to one McMahan family member, they found all this more amusing than annoying, although they may wonder at the desperation of a churl who would condone this kind of nastiness.

The second — the Invasion of the Search Engine Snatchers — is a standard internet promotion scam.  A quick survey of the sites running the McMahan fable show they are almost exclusively located in the third world, chiefly India and Asia, where, for a few dollars a day, you can hire an armada of rent-a-bloggers to spray the internet with  phantom posts like a dog marking a fire hydrant.

Many of these are one-time “blogs” — that is, straw men impostors whose only story is a reprint of Ortega’s “Memo to Bruce McMahan — which appeared right after he received the now-infamous subpoena.  The others paraphrase the story — in almost identical scripts — in a hilarious kind of semi-literate summary replete with serial typos, transposed “facts” and other giveaways of a hasty made-to-order post written by someone leaden-eyed with fatigue in his third or fourth language, and intended to do nothing but promote the original story up the ladders of search engines like Google.

Finally, we have Ortega’s “Memo to Bruce McMahan:  Daughter-Seducer.”  Daughter-seducer?  This guy really knows how to turn a phrase, doesn’t he?   “You, sir, are a — a — a daughter-seducer, sir!”  But his opening, for sheer its ineptitude, for its puling whinyness, for its absurd premise, and for its bizarre attempt to paint the author as the “aggrieved little guy” in this institutional gang-rape, “gets away with the biscuit [for the most embarrassing paragraph ever penned by a journalist] with almost insolent ease(1):”

“Listen, I know you have a lot of money. Like, piles of cash that you don’t know what to do with.  But surely, there’s got to be a better way to throw your money away than to keep trying to haul me into court.”

Actually, we can’t think of anything McMahan could do with his money that could possibly be better defending himself from the Ortegas of this world.  When Ortega decided to make a living from printing and reprinting things that would have gotten him horsewhipped in the public square in an earlier century, showing up in a court of law seems pretty gentle.

Why then all this unseemly public whining?  Show up, tell your side of the story (under oath), and live with the verdict.  Why does Ortega fear this so?  Particularly since he is not the one on trial?

The lawsuit he is being subpoenaed to testify in is a suit by McMahan against his ex-wife.  Ortega is merely a witness.  But he is right to squirm as much as he can to wriggle out of this — because his testimony, if he tells the truth, will probably cost him his job.

You see, his source for his McMahan story has already testified (under oath) that she never spoke to the Village Voice, the Broward-Palm Beach New Times, or any other publication or reporter about Bruce McMahan.  And that is a real problem for Ortega, since the first two stories about McMahan described meetings with her and quoted her at length.

No wonder Mr. Ortega’s minions are suddenly so busy.  He’s feeling the hot breath of inevitable consequence on his neck, and he doesn’t like it one bit.  After these years of taunting McMahan with apparent impunity, it must seem unfair too him that the prey he was chasing so sportively has now turned round on him, and has a fairly fearsome set of fangs.  Because Ortega’s right about one thing:  McMahan has money.  “Like, piles of cash.”  And it looks like he’s decided to a chuck a bale or two of it Ortega’s way, at a mass and velocity Ortega may find — impressive.

Please tell us again, Mr. Ortega, in your unique, if inept, style, why McMahan is wrong to do this?  We always enjoy your work.  It makes perfect kindling for the stewpot, which is finally, where you are concerned, nearing a boil.

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(1)  Stole that one from P.G. Woodhouse,  Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit.