Some of the most popular questions I get about Defamers are about the various anonymous smear campaigns associated with CalCoastNews. Not often do you have an online tabloid being fervently supported by anonymous, radicalized accounts that pop out of nowhere to push their conspiracy theories. Sure, there are fans of the website, but not many of them spend days, weeks and even months cultivating online campaigns touting conspiracy theories their founders exclusively allege — and continue to allege to this day with reckless abandon.
Once every two months, I hear from musicians who are connected to CalCoastNews co-founder Daniel Blackburn’s son Alan. Like his father, Alan is a filmmaker and documentarian. Alan, a resident of Santa Cruz, is friends with a number of session musicians residing in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Every now and then, I’d hear from one of those musicians, most of whom I don’t know personally.
They would reach out to me because they were concerned about Alan’s “obsession” with me, with that obsession reportedly teetering between ambiguously threatening remarks and a desire to “expose” me as a key player in an elaborate conspiracy theory to take the website down. The younger Blackburn reportedly bragged about reporting me to unnamed law enforcement and that “justice was coming soon.” That’s a lot of hearsay that’s ultimately false and meaningless. The first time someone reached out to me about his comments, I shrugged them off. And for the most part, I continue to shrug them off. But I appreciate the concern nonetheless.
When CalCoastNews announced they were participating in “Lying in Trash,” a documentary about the “plot to bury [them]” as a “news agency,” I immediately recognized Alan’s handiwork from behind the camera.
In 2013, I looked into a series of YouTube videos and fake accounts promoting the conspiracy theory that SLO County District 3 Supervisor Adam Hill and a smattering of government employees orchestrated the “kidnapping” of CalCoastNews co-founder Karen Velie’s grandchildren. Some of the accounts hid behind this strange Christian crusader/Knights of Templar imagery, calling for the “spilled blood” of Velie’s perceived adversaries while other accounts masqueraded as independent news reporting outlets and impersonating actual stations like…