How Many Lawsuits and Legal Threats Must Cal Coast News Get to Report Reality?

Aaron Ochs
4 min readApr 28, 2022
Legal threats and lawsuits against Cal Coast News cost lots of money.

It’s a valid question.

Almost a year ago, I was informed about a retraction demand sent to Cal Coast News from two women who co-organized a vigil for a Kristin Smart vigil. The website accused them of attempting to eject the online tabloid’s photographer from the event. They even accused one of the women of reportedly assaulting and “choking” the photographer despite over a dozen witnesses stating otherwise — that it was their photographer who personally accosted them.

Cal Coast News never updated the article with a denial from both women about the allegations. They never mentioned to readers that they received a written retraction demand. You’d think they would do more to cover their asses after losing a libel lawsuit for $1.1 million.

On Tuesday, District 2 Supervisor Bruce Gibson’s re-election campaign sent Cal Coast News a detailed retraction and apology demand for an article they wrote on April 24 about him allegedly receiving “special favors” from the County that allowed him to make improvements to his Cayucos home, which angered neighbors in the process. The article author, Karen Velie, also alleged the County either outright refused to provide property records or they supposedly claimed documents were missing, “lost” or the records were taken offline.

But there are a few problems with that. For one, the “special favors” accusation (as it was baked in the headline itself) is not substantiated. That was Velie’s editorialized opinion. And the Gibson campaign offered copious evidence showing the opposite is true: that County Counsel communicated with her extensively, provided records as requested, and provided her with a detailed explanation of County codes that she deliberately skewed in her “reporting.” Gibson’s camp brought the receipts. She didn’t.

But what’s the point in demanding retractions from people who steadfastly refuse to report the facts?

It’s one thing to issue a statement that clears the air, but it’s another thing to send a legal retraction demand and expect them to comply when they haven’t. Though there’s actual court record showcasing their egregious journalistic misconduct for the world to see, it’s unrealistic to assume anything will change…

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Aaron Ochs

Author, artist, advocate and entrepreneur from Morro Bay, California.