Can time finally be running out for Mr. Ortega?
Last week the Village Voice ran a feature story about one Tamicka Bourges, a student at for-profit Berkeley College, who had gone heavily into debt to finance a degree that she failed to get.
The Voice writes:
” “My parents never made a lot of money, so I was hoping that with a business bachelor’s degree, I could go into banking,’ says Bourges, who describes her high school performance as ‘OK.’ She received B’s and C’s in most of her classes, but performed poorly on the SAT. ‘Harvard was out of the question,’ she laughs.”
Actually, she didn’t laugh. She couldn’t. She doesn’t exist.
She was made up, along with a “Berkeley College spokesperson,” by one Ron Sgobbo, a freelance writer for the Voice, which makes more and more frequent use of non-staff personnel now that it can’t afford to keep any full-time reporters around (see related story).
Mr. Sgobbo appears to be a real person, however, in spite of his surname, which is suspiciously parodic. Nor is suspicion in this regard unwarranted, as Tony Ortega, the Voice’s editor, has already been caught posting two similarly-fraudulent stories under fictitious names (“Antoine Oman” and “Cesar Oman”) in the past (see related story).
Wonderful, isn’t it? Ortega runs a story with no attempt whatever to verify anything it says. No one at the Voice checked anything about this story — not with the college, not with “Ms. Bourges” — they just said “What the hell” and let it run.
Sound familiar? It does to us. And certainly it does to Mr. Ortega, who never lets the facts get in the way of an eye-catching headline. This may go some way to explain his remarkable gullibility — or his tacit complicity — regarding the McMahan libel he re-knits every six months or so. In that story, however, the gravest and most insulting allegations were made by the Voice based on the flimsiest of evidence — actually, no real “evidence” at all — and a fable concocted from the nastiest corners of the human heart, by some of the nastiest people to possess one.
Can time finally be running out for Mr. Ortega? His McMahan story is about to be exposed as a complete fabrication, like the one above and the others he has either fathered or sponsored in his strange journalistic journey. The management of Village Voice Media faces a choice: lose Ortega, who becomes more of an embarrassment each passing week, or lose their business. And while I am sure Mssrs. Larkin and Lacey regard their boy with nothing but affection, I am reminded of a line from Prizzi’s Honor:
“The Prizzis would rather eat their children than part with money. And they are very fond of their children.”
Eating children? Well, we can’t ask VV Media to do that. Leave that to the Cannibal.