This is a screenshot taken from the Facebook page “Team Adam Hill Watch,” which was created by the Knights Templar. Remember those guys? You know, the guys that just so happen to exclusively share CalCoastNews coverage and uploaded a video that was produced and shared by the son of the site’s co-founder? They’re back, and they’ve expanded their guerilla, quasi-anonymous social media marketing campaign. Suffice to say, it’s quite disturbing.
On February 8, CalCoastNews published a video on their website showing writer Josh Friedman interviewing Tea Party gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly, who previously penned a letter to San Luis Obispo County Social Services Director Lee Collins about the child welfare case involving co-publisher Karen Velie‘s grandchildren. The interview with Donnelly centered around the case, which recently resulted in the children being reunited with their mother.
New details were revealed from Donnelly. Donnelly claimed that Velie’s grandchildren were taken away because “the dishes were dirty,” and there was “stuff on the floor.” Donnelly stated that, in his opinion, the taking of Velie’s grandchildren was “payback” for their exposes on corruption in SLO County. Then Donnelly quickly pivoted to the claim that Child Welfare Services “kidnaps kids for cash,” and “they’re letting kids die on their watch.” The interview proved to be just as incendiary and unsubstantiated as CalCoastNews’ self-victimizing coverage of the case, but that’s nothing new.
It only took a day before a video was posted by “Team Adam Hill Watch,” otherwise known as “NewsBreak77” and Knights Templar, which superimposed CalCoastNews-exclusive propaganda — including the gratuitous mention of District 3 Supervisor Hill as being the “alleged kidnapper” of those children — and cut the video down to two minutes. The video was subsequently posted on CalCoastNews as a comment under the original video by Friedman.
But wait! There’s more.
The “Knights Templar” has created several anonymous accounts to promote CalCoastNews coverage on YouTube, specifically coverage that pertains to Supervisor Hill:
Robert Bacon is the pseudonym that created the “Citizens Protecting Children” Facebook page, and shared content with CalCoastNews co-founder Daniel Blackburn‘s son Alan. Alan Blackburn shared content from Citizens Protecting Children under a series of confirmed aliases, including his organization Star Knowledge TV and Star Knowledge Conference. Most of the videos on this account cover the debate between Supervisor Hill and Forbes columnist Steven Hayward
Robert Bacon’s alternative account. Videos that are uploaded to this account heavily promote Hayward’s blog PowerLineBlog.com, Hayward’s original article about the excessive local bureaucracies in SLO County, the Forbes Magazine website, but this account steers clear of any mention of CalCoastNews. However, the videos posted are the exact same videos uploaded on the Robert Bacon account. According to his Google Plus profile, the Longarm account shared the video on Hill and Child Welfare Services to the FreeSLO YouTube channel, which is maintained by CalCoastNews’ Friedman. After my article was published about the “Knights Templar” connection to CalCoastNews, Friedman quietly removed Longarm’s comments
Robert Bacon’s second alternative account. Only one video was posted, which had the “Newsbreak77” branding. Much like Bacon’s Facebook account, “Erik” had posted videos and CalCoastNews articles on several Facebook pages, including The Tribune, New Times, PowerLineBlog.com, Los Angeles Times, Planet Infowars (founded by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones). While the name is obviously fake, the profile photo he used and the information he put in his profile was not. The man in the photo is David Twigger, Programs Chair for the Phoenix, Arizona Chapter of the National Association for Catering and Events. The Facebook profile of Erik Goodblood (now removed) indicated that he was a “caterer from Scottsdale, Arizona.”
This is the most active account out of the four. All of the videos that appeared on the other accounts have been uploaded to the NewsBreak77 account. Bacon is attempting to show that CalCoastNews coverage is being covered by a local news station, but there’s no station in SLO County called “Newsbreak 77.” If you look at the passenger side door of the vehicle, it reads WHDH-TV. WHDH is News 7, an NBC station located in Boston. So why would a Boston news station cover sensationalist, hyper-local stories from the opposite side of the coast? Answer: they don’t.
Obviously, a lot of time was put into setting up these accounts, creating and maintaining a corresponding Facebook profile for each YouTube account. I wanted to ask
Alan Blackburn “Robert Bacon” why he’s been creating multiple accounts to promote CalCoastNews. I managed to post as myself on the Team Adam Hill Watch Facebook page and address “Mr. Bacon” himself. I also pointed out that the avatar he was using for Bacon was a photo of Bill Flick, a printmaker from North Carolina.
Bacon wrote a reply to me, which he left on Facebook for ten seconds before quickly deleting the comment and banning me from all his anonymous accounts. He wrote, “We’re doing work for the people. You don’t understand. Why don’t you leave my father and I alone?”
What CalCoastNews is doing is dangerous. By focusing almost exclusively on one politician and obsessively promoting coverage of said politician under multiple identities, it sets a dangerous precedent. By doing what they’re doing, CalCoastNews is encouraging predatory behavior under wildly false pretenses. They think they’re being clever by creating more exposure for themselves, but their charade is actually psychotic and deeply sadistic.