Nicholas Kristof Continues His Anti-Backpage Campaign

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has repeatedly publicized the evils of the Village Voice Media-owned classified site in what has been a systematic campaign to shut the site down.

This week’s edition seems to target critics who argue that prostitution, while illegal, is often still voluntary, and includes the tale of a young New York prostitute who was branded by her pimp. (“Such branding is a reminder that women being sold on the streets in America are – not always, but often – victims rather than criminals,” Kristof writes.) Most of the girl’s dates, she says, came from Backpage.

This newest column comes amid heavy pressure on the company’s advertisers, 36 of which have already pulled their ads, and attorneys general around the country.


  • Thufir_Hawat

    It is difficult to argue against someone like Kristof who so fervently enjoys riding the moral high horse. But Kristof is not especially rigorous when it some to the facts, favoring demagoguery instead, and is not exactly credible.

    For example, earlier this month he asked his readers to boycott Anheuser-Busch for, per Kristof, cynically permitting its products to be sold in large volumes across the state line from the Oglala Sioux Pine Ridge Reservation. His article was occasioned by a lawsuit on behalf of the tribe for “letting” the malt beverages be sold where Pine Ridge residents can so easily get at them. Of course, the issue is a little more nuanced; specifically, the state’s alcohol regulation system prohibits brewers (like Anheuser-Busch) from controlling the chain of distribution; in other words, by law, they *cannot* control their wholesalers, or their retailers or the retailer’s sale to the public. But why would a shallow ideologue let a few facts get in the way of a little walk on the perceived high ground.

    This month he also opined about government mandated flame retardants in furniture. The Chicago Tribune had reported that the main entities behind last generation’s successful push to mandate these chemicals were the chemical manufacturers (of course) and tobacco companies, who worried about litigation over sleeping smokers causing fires. Interesting, but of course, the mandated chemicals are harmful when the residue gets on skin or is inhaled. Kristoff’s conclusion: “This campaign season, you’ll hear fervent denunciations of ‘burdensome government regulation.’ When you do, think of the other side of the story: your home is filled with toxic flame retardants that serve no higher purpose than enriching three companies. The lesson is that we need not only safer couches but also a political system less distorted by toxic money.” What? The chemicals are in your home because of burdensome government regulation but the answer to the problem is more burdensome regulation? As James Taranto averred, Kristof is simply blinded by ideology.

    In the end, he is a ideological hack, willing to ignore facts inconsistent with his argument and inflate those that might be consistent. Fine to quote, I guess, when he is tilting at a windmill that happens to coincide with your interests or ideology (and who at D doesn’t want to stick a finger in the eye of VVM). But a hack nonetheless.