A California Democrat vying to unseat Gov. Gavin Newsom in the upcoming recall election had his lawyers send CNN a cease and desist letter Tuesday after the outlet incorrectly reported that “no Democrats are competing against their own party’s governor.”
Kevin Paffrath, a real estate agent also known as the social media personality Meet Kevin, is one of the 46 candidates vying to replace Newsom as governor in the Golden State. He’s also arguably the most recognizable of nine Democrats in the race.
But a CNN report on the state of the recall race made no mention of him Monday. Roughly an hour and 15 minutes after Fox News requested comment, the article was updated to instead read, “Since no party-backed Democrats are competing against their own party’s governor, the state could end up being run by a Republican” – adding the “party-backed” qualifier.
“What jerks; still won’t mention me despite being one or two in the polls against Elder,” he said after CNN updated the article. “They’re creating a false dichotomy: that it’s either Newsom or Elder. So wrong – there are other options, including me.”
He was referring to an August SurveyUSA poll that found a razor-thin majority of Californians favored recalling Newsom and that Paffrath and conservative radio host Larry Elder, a Republican, led the pack with 27% and 23%, respectively.
In an earlier statement to Fox News Tuesday, Paffrath accused CNN of “pocket-endorsing” Newsom, who he called a “selfish liar and failed governor.”
“CNN is trying to keep voters in the dark about our campaign to attempt to help Governor Newsom stay in power,” he said. “Newsom lied to us, overstating fire prevention by 690%, then just today we discover his administration tried to cover up their original statement.”
He also criticized Newsom for taking donations from large corporations, including Netflix, and allowing them to remain open while shutting down small businesses during the height of coronavirus pandemic restrictions.
“One-third of our California restaurants went bankrupt under lockdowns,” he said, referencing a report by state legislators from May.
“He misstated our surplus, lied about ending the high speed rail, and is finally recognizing that this is a Californian recall, not a Republican recall,” Paffrath said.
So the YouTube star took immediate issue with the report, which originally claimed, “Since no Democrats are competing against their own party’s governor, the state could end up being run by a Republican.”
His lawyers called on the news outlet to “immediately correct the record.”
“The purpose of this letter is to demand that you cease and desist your erroneous reporting,” Paffrath’s attorneys wrote to CNN Monday. “The fact is, candidate Kevin Paffrath is a moderate, JFK-style Democrat with emergency-action plans to finally do what Governor Newsom hasn’t: end the water crisis, prevent wildfires, and end the nightly horror of homeless individuals dying in California’s streets.”
“And yet, your website pushes disinformation to California voters looking for serious ‘analysis’ of the recall election,” the letter continues. “Your editors have already been alerted to this truth gap in your recall reporting. Mr. Paffrath’s twitter feed put CNN on blast for its disinformation before, and your failure to correct the record would rise to the level of libel and defamation if based on malicious intent.”
On Tuesday, Sept. 14, California voters will receive a recall ballot containing two questions. The first will ask whether or not Newsom should be recalled. The second asks who should replace him.
“Californians should vote on a JFK-style Democrat on question on #2,” Paffrath said. “Kevin Paffrath.”
The CNN report came despite other major outlets reporting on Paffrath’s chances.
“A 29-year-old YouTube millionaire is leading in a poll to replace Gavin Newsom as the next governor of California,” reads a Business Insider headline from Aug. 16.
On the same day, CNBC reported Paffrath “has a good chance to be the next governor of California.”
Both reports cited the SurveyUSA poll.
“A Democrat is leading the latest recall poll – and it’s not Gavin Newsom,” the LA Magazine’s sub-headline reads.
CNN did not immediately respond to a request for comment, even after updating the article.
But Paffrath called even the update a “slap in the face.”
“Now they literally can’t say ‘we didn’t know,'” he said. “It’s almost more apparent now that they’re censoring us.”
He called it a corrupt attempt to “sandbag Paffrath.”
And it’s not the first time he’s found himself squaring off against a large, liberal corporation in his quest to unseat Newsom.
In May, Paffrath’s Instagram account was briefly shut down after he called Newsom a “weanie baby” in his campaign announcement. He said he was initially told the post violated Instagram’s harassment guidelines, but a spokesperson for the social media platform’s parent company, Facebook, later told Fox News it was an error and that the account had been restored.
That report came weeks after a Judicial Watch freedom of information request confirmed allegations that California officials were coordinating social media “misinformation” censorship efforts through backchannels to Twitter, Facebook and Google.
Republican challengers include Elder, 2018 GOP candidate John Cox, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, reality star and Olympian Caitlin Jenner, state Assemblyman Kevin Kiley and Steve Chavez Lodge, the ex-cop and Army veteran who is engaged to “Real Housewives” star Vicki Gunvalson.