Dear Sponsors,

I want to thank you for not only taking the initiative to sponsor a panel on fake news, but also canceling the panel when you realized the event could no longer provide constructive dialogue.

From the onset, it was clear the Cal Poly College Republicans chose to invite panelists like blogger Bill Whittle and right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulus to espouse their derogatory views more than weigh in on “fake news.” They were vastly unqualified to broach the subject. There are many nonpartisan media figures that could’ve discussed fake news, but College Republicans couldn’t come up with any.

According to a statement by College Republicans, they thought Yiannopoulus was “a victim of the fake news media.”

If victims of fake news media are considered qualified panelists, then you should consider me as a future panelist.

One of the event’s sponsors was the Cal Poly Department of Journalism. Oddly enough, a former member of the department’s faculty is an editor of a locally owned and operated fake news site CalCoastNews. For some reason, they also run another news site Cal Coast Times.

Bill Loving is the editor of CalCoastNews and has been during his tenure at Cal Poly when he taught media ethics.

When CalCoastNews was sued for defamation, Loving testified during their trial that as the site’s “gatekeeper,” he believed reporting — which they were being sued over — was accurate.

A unanimous jury disagreed and awarded the plaintiff $1.1 million in damages. Neither Loving nor CalCoastNews apologized for reporting deemed erroneous and defamatory by the court of law.

In light of their guilty verdict, the New Times reported their pattern of publishing defamatory was nothing new, having terrorized grieving families, residents, non-profit organizations and local businesses with accusations that were demonstrably false.

I reported on CalCoastNews’ controversial reporting practices for six years. As a result, their co-owner Karen Velie threatened my former employer and her family, me and my family. One of the threats she made was to write a story in order to humiliate my employer, who was running for Congress at the time. I consider that blackmail.

Since then, Velie published a series of articles and claims about me, falsely accusing me of being a “government troll” paid by a county supervisor, threatening one of her contributors with a firearm; impersonating her online; forgery; personally harassing children and grandchildren of CalCoastNews reporters; “cyber harassment” of CalCoastNews reporters; harassing CalCoastNews advertisers; calling on my followers to personally and physically “harm” her; being somehow involved in placing dead cats on her porch and poisoning her beloved family dog; stalking her at her home; falsely accusing my father of stalking her at her home; that “multiple people” have reported my “stalking” and “cyber harassment” to law enforcement; that I discussed tossing bleach into her daughter’s eyes.

In July last year, Velie attempted to file a restraining order on me after I politely asked her questions about the false allegations she wrote about me. She claimed I physically threatened her and her daughters inside the courthouse where I asked her questions; that I reportedly fled the courthouse with the bailiff chasing me. The bailiff couldn’t recall any of that happening.

The judge found no evidence that I stalked or harassed her, though he admonished me based on her tearful and perjured testimony.

As a result of her allegations, my family and I endured significant mental and physical anguish. I have applied for jobs only for potential employers to turn me down either because of her “reporting” on me or personal retaliation by Velie if she learned I was employed by them. When I found work, I had to keep my professional whereabouts anonymous. I’ve also been the recipient of many harassing messages and death threats from her readers. To this day, I continue to receive harassment from her supporters. Because she discussed purchasing a firearm in her restraining order filing to deal with incidents conjured by her wild imagination, I’ve had numerous conversations with law enforcement about her own behavior.

Recently, Velie filed a lawsuit against the same county supervisor she alleged was paying me to “troll” and falsely claimed I was his “business associate.”

Yes, I know a thing or two about fake news.

Yes, I have spoken up about it and will continue to do so with candor and transparency.

If you are interested in bringing back the idea of a fake news panel, please allow me to participate and set the truth free for my sake and everyone else’s. It’s time to bring integrity back to Cal Poly Journalism Dept. by discussing a fake news site their faculty helped enable.

Best regards,

Aaron Ochs

Aaron Ochs is a columnist, marketing entrepreneur and founder of SLO Truth. Ochs is also involved in his community as founder of Save Morro Bay (www.savemorrobay.com).

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