Opinion » Shredder

All the 'news' that's fit to spit



CalCoastNews (CCN), the right-wing blog pretending to be a news source, has stuck its libelous foot in its mouth again. In an Aug. 18 "news" story titled "Protesters demand money from San Luis Obispo business owners," "journalists" Karen Velie and Josh Friedman claim, "A group of protesters affiliated with Mayor Heidi Harmon organized Black Lives Matter demonstrations in San Luis Obispo and demanded that downtown businesses pay reparations for boarding up their windows after local activists took to the streets."


If CCN is to be believed, SLO Mayor Heidi Harmon, Black Lives Matter (BLM) protest organizer Tianna Arata, Tianna's mother Michelle Arata, Courtney Haile (one of the founders of local organization R.A.C.E. Matters SLO), Cal Poly quarterback Jalen Hamler, "and other Cal Poly students" are part of a conspiracy to extort money from local businesses.

As evidence of this purported extortion scheme, CCN quoted Tricia Hamachai from a letter she sent to the SLO City Council accusing Tianna Arata of saying Asians are racist and claiming Cal Poly football players Hamler and Xavier Moore "aggressively verbally attacked Abrianna Torres, a young Black woman," for not being Black enough.

Totally lame if true! You three should be ashamed of your behavior, though it's hardly tantamount to extortion.

At the end of its story, CCN published an Instagram post, purportedly from Michelle Arata, that read, "We will be comprising (sic) an official letter asking these businesses who have pushed this message of fear by boarding up their shop, to make reparations in financial donations to local and national Black Lives Matter agencies."

I think the key word here is "asking." There's no demand! And what if a business refuses to donate?

"Many of the businesses that refused to pay received dozens of angry posts on Yelp, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook," CCN claimed without citing any examples.

To further its case of conspiracy, CCN also posted a clip of Freidman interviewing Mayor Harmon, who said she fully supported BLM and helped local protest organizers draft a statement that in part declared that racism is a "public health emergency."

A mayor who's against racism? That's your smoking gun?

CCN also posted a short video of a protester saying through a megaphone, "We need to stop shopping at businesses that don't support Black Lives Matter."

Boycotts aren't new. How is this part of a big conspiracy?

Finally, CCN posted a letter that read, "Dear R.A.C.E. Matters SLO, please accept this $1,000 donation from Finney's Crafthouse."

Now if it said, "Please accept this $1,000 extortion payment. Please don't burn our businesses to the ground," then I'd say, "Hey CCN, you might be on to something here."

This is all such a crock of nonsense! Since first publishing their story, CCN already had to post a clarification because Courtney Haile claimed the story libeled her. Then CCN added an editor's note listing their "evidence."

This isn't journalism. It's two right-wing activists disguised as journalists throwing shit in the air to see what sticks. It's a conspiracy theory in desperate need of actual support. A non-cohesive mountain of disconnected molehills doesn't make a rumor true. It means you have more reporting work to do, more "facts" to investigate before publication.

Don't be distracted by shiny objects—CCN is publishing rumors that fit their agenda.

On Aug. 25, peaceful protesters gathered on the steps of the SLO County Courthouse to call for District Attorney Dan Dow to not prosecute the litany of trumped-up charges leveled against Tianna Arata by the SLO Police Department. These charges, the community backlash against the protesters, and CCN's absurd claim of extortion—these are the last gasps of a racist infrastructure under threat.

Following the protest, SLO Police Chief Deanna Cantrell and City Manager Derek Johnson participated in a press conference "webinar" to take questions from the media, most of whom forgot to show up, and the three media outlets that did—KSBY, KCOY, and KCBX—lobbed a few softball questions that elicited mostly long-winded non-answers. The best question was to Cantrell, who was asked to respond to Arata's lawyer's claim that she perjured herself on documents sent to the DA.

"Did not!" she said.

I wish I'd heard about the press conference! To Johnson, "How strong is your kung fu? Your thoughts on the crane kick?" To Cantrell, "Where's your backup Glock? Do you have it on you? Are you sure?" Also to Cantrell, "Follow up: Do you still eat at El Pollo Loco?"

Good grief! How much more foolish can SLO County look?

To that question, Andy Caldwell, conservative talk radio host and candidate running for U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal's 24th Congressional District seat apparently wants you to hold his beer. Did you see his most recent ad that trots out the old scorpion and frog fable? Today's "woke progressives" are the scorpion in the story "who literally stung the minds of young people raging against America," he said, adding that schools are teaching kids they're "victims."

Sorry, Andy, but "woke progressives" simply want the rich and corporations to stop hogging all the boats so we can all get across the river without drowning. And seriously, dude, don't you think your analogy would work better if Trump was the scorpion and his MAGA sycophants were the frog? Δ

The Shredder is woke from its nap. Send comments to shredder@newtimesslo.com.


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