Adult industry news hub Xbiz published an interesting piece recently exposing how ‘The National Center On Sexual Exploitation’ morphed from being an ultra-conservative anti-porn group called ‘Morality In Media’ into a seemingly respectable NGO that the media quotes and politicians listen to on all things to do with ‘sex exploitation’ – from sex trafficking to regulations on sex robots.
From “Morality” to “Sexual Exploitation”
NCOSE was born as “Operation Yorkville” in 1962, formed by a group of clergymen in New York City. Aligned with traditionalist Catholics (this was the era of the Vatican Council II reforms), the group was presented as interfaith, with early press making sure to note that a rabbi had also been included in its inception.
“Operation Yorkville” sounds like a John Wayne movie and soon changed to the more Goldwater-esque “Morality in Media,” the first instance of the group’s rebranding to more effectively mainstream their fringe message.
On the NCOSE website, the group describes their Morality in Media days as being “the beacon of hope and light for those concerned about the insidious trend toward normalization of sexual exploitation in American culture.” Morality in Media “is perhaps the nation’s loudest voice against adult pornography,” a 2014 ThinkProgress article published, “with a coalition that reads like a Who’s Who of conservative Christian organizations.”
That 2014 date is important, because in 2015 Morality in Media rebranded itself as the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. According to the NCOSE website, the change was made “to better describe our scope and mission to expose the seamless connection between all forms of sexual exploitation.”
But a perusal of their press archives paints a very different picture of their motivation. Before rebranding, Morality in Media was cited by such conservative Christian publications as Lifesite News and The Christian Post, and right-wing websites like Breitbart. The odd time that they were mentioned by the mainstream press, such as this New York Times story from 2013, they were referred to as what they actually were — and still are — an “anti-pornography advocacy group.”
Since the organization’s rebranding as NCOSE, they continue to feature heavily in right-wing and conservative Christian media. But when mentioned by the mainstream press, they are rarely referred to as an “anti-pornography advocacy group.”
The newly-christened org is now described as an “anti-abuse and anti-exploitation organization” (Time Magazine), “experts” on human trafficking (Time Warner Cable News), or a group “which works to combat pornography, sex trafficking and sexual violence” (Chicago Tribune). Often, they were simply quoted or referenced as authorities on sexual exploitation with no explanation at all of who they are, what their background is or what special interest they represent, other than that implied by their name (CNN, CNBC, The Today Show, The New York Times).