By Pam Martens: December 7, 2020 ~
The New York Times columnist and two-time Pulitzer winner, Nicholas Kristof, has managed to do in one column what Canada, the U.S. Department of Justice, Visa and Mastercard have failed to do: send a strong message that profiting from the rape of children will result in dire consequences.
At 7:06 a.m. on Friday, Kristof Tweeted this:
“I’ve spent the last few months reporting this piece about Pornhub. What most people don’t realize is that it’s infested with rape videos. I talked to child trafficking survivors whose rape videos the company had distributed and monetized. Unconscionable.”
“Unconscionable” is a peculiar word to use given the breadth of Kristof’s article. If monetizing the rape of children isn’t criminal in the U.S. and Canada, we’re living in a sicker era than any of us have imagined. (Pornhub, a video website accessible on the internet, is owned by the Canadian porn conglomerate, MindGeek.)
Kristof’s article makes an overwhelming case against Pornhub with first-hand accounts from underage victims and evidence like the following, which, hopefully, the legal department of the New York Times has provided to law enforcement:
“I came across many videos on Pornhub that were recordings of assaults on unconscious women and girls. The rapists would open the eyelids of the victims and touch their eyeballs to show that they were nonresponsive.
“Pornhub profited this fall from a video of a naked woman being tortured by a gang of men in China. It is monetizing video compilations with titles like “Screaming Teen,” “Degraded Teen” and “Extreme Choking.” Look at a choking video and it may suggest also searching for “She Can’t Breathe.”
Equally amoral and sickening, Kristof says that Pornhub has an algorithm that offers users suggestions on how to search for videos of interest. Some of its search suggestions include “young tiny teen,” “extra small petite teen,” “tiny Asian teen” or “young girl,” according to Kristof.
One day after the article appeared online at the Times, hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, who has 180,000 Twitter followers, Tweeted a link to the article with this appeal:
“In your mind replace the victims with your daughter or son. We could fix this problem by making it illegal for porn sites to allow content to be posted before review by a monitor, and ages and consents of participants validated.”
Sorry Ackman, but Pornhub’s entrenched business model is to profit from this content while issuing preposterous public denials. In response to the well-documented Times article, Pornhub told Reuters: “Any assertion that we allow CSAM (child sexual abuse material) is irresponsible and flagrantly untrue.”
A more realistic plan for Pornhub is to simply shut it down. A petition to do just that has gained more than 2 million signatures.
PayPal withdrew its payment system from Pornhub a year ago but Visa and Mastercard continued to accept payments on the site. CNN reported that “American Express prohibits its cards from being accepted on Pornhub, citing a longstanding policy that prohibits cards from being used on digital adult content sites, according to an American Express spokesperson.”
Both American Express and Visa are two of the stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, a leading bellwether index of the “health” of the U.S. economy. One of the companies, American Express, is taking the high road. The other, Visa, just ran its reputation into a ditch.
By Sunday, the fallout had reached such a pitch that Visa told the Associated Press that it was “aware of the allegations” and “actively engaging with the relevant financial institutions to investigate, in addition to engaging directly with the site’s parent company, MindGeek.”
Mastercard told the Associated Press it would take “immediate action” if it was able to substantiate the allegations.
The impunity with which Pornhub has been operating under the noses of the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice is reminiscent of how it took the intrepid reporting of Julie K. Brown in the Miami Herald to force the hand of law enforcement to finally throw Jeffrey Epstein in jail on sex trafficking charges.
In July of 2006, the Palm Beach, Florida Police Chief, Michael Reiter, handed a deeply investigated case against Epstein over to the FBI. It took just eight months for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Florida to have a 53-page Federal indictment ready to file against Epstein involving sexual assaults against dozens of underage girls. But the indictment was never filed. A “deal” was worked out by then U.S. Attorney, Alex Acosta, and Epstein’s well-connected lawyers. Federal charges were dropped against Epstein and he was allowed to plead guilty to only Florida state charges: one count of soliciting sex from a minor and one count of soliciting sex from an adult woman. Epstein served just 13 months in jail while also given a work release program which enabled him to sit in his well-appointed office 12 hours a day and be driven around by his chauffeured limo.
It was only through the public outrage unleashed by Brown’s reporting in the Miami Herald and her emotional personal video interviews with Epstein’s victims, that the Justice Department was forced to bring sex trafficking charges against Epstein in 2019 in the Southern District of New York.
Before Epstein could be brought to justice and witnesses called in an open public trial of the matter, he died under suspicious circumstances in a federal prison in New York City. The death was ruled a suicide by the New York medical examiner.
In a manner quite similar to Epstein, Pornhub has tried to burnish its image with charitable donations. Epstein plied MIT with hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations, which MIT accepted, even after he pleaded guilty to soliciting sex from a minor.