Sure, the Village Voice may have just avoided a strike — but is it any match for celebrities on Twitter? CNN is reporting that the Voice is engaging in some serious Twitter warfare with Ashton Kutcher, likely to the delight of his more than seven million followers. It began with the Voice‘s derogatory article accusing Kutcher for getting facts about sex trafficking wrong with his (admittedly oddly conceived, but no doubt well-intentioned) “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls” campaign.
As we’ve covered in the past, there is an existing controversy over the fact that Village Voice Media generates a significant revenue from escort ads on its classified site Backpage. So if they call out anyone over sex trade concerns, in fairness they should be prepared for that all to come up. Which it did.
Kutcher fired off a number of tweets, including: “Hey @villagevoice speaking of data, maybe you can help me… How much $ did your ‘escorts’ in you classifieds on backpage make last year?” and “REAL MEN DON’T BUY GIRLS and REAL NEWS PUBLICATIONS DON’T SELL THEM.”
The Voice responded, “Wow, @aplusk having a Twitter meltdown! Hey Ashton, which part this story is inaccurate?… we’ll bite. Tell us the hard facts you have collected. We’ll fact-check for you.” Later, when it seemed like Kutcher wasn’t responding, the publication added: “Where’s your fight now, @aplusk? Did you sleep in, or are you just tuckered out from last night’s Twitter tirade?”
This isn’t the first time the Village Voice Media has been touchy about its escort service ads; the executive editor Mike Lacey sent an enraged email to Kat Stoeffel, the New York Observer reporter who wrote the escort ads story. (Trust us, it’s a must-read.) But Kutcher wasn’t done yet. He sent off another round of tweets, including: “fact: news outlets who have financial interest in trafficking may have interest in applying bias to facts to secure their revenue.”
Meanwhile, the Voice has kept on tweeting. As recently as an hour ago, it was tweeting “@aplusk Still sleeping? How about you wake up and help us convince Congress to spend money on treatment of real teen problems, not hype” and “@aplusk Thanks in part to you, while Congress spends millions to hype mythical numbers, actual causes and treatment go unaddressed.”
Kutcher hasn’t said anything for a while now, but we’re guessing (hoping?) there’s a lot more to come.