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Matt Gaetz targets CNN in new ad to "fight back" against sexual misconduct claims

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) announced Wednesday a six-figure ad buy for a spot that takes aim at CNN as part of an offensive to hit back at mounting sexual misconduct allegations, Politico first reported.

Driving the news: Gaetz is under federal investigation following sex trafficking allegations, and the House Ethics Committee has also opened an inquiry. Announcing the 30-second ad, to run in his Florida Panhandle district, Gaetz called on his Twitter followers to "help us fight back!"


  • The Friends of Matt Gaetz campaign committee said in the statement to Politico that the ad was designed to highlight a smear campaign against him, which it added was "aimed at taking out a Congressman of the United States."

The big picture: Gaetz has strongly denied all allegations against him.

  • Two of his senior aides resigned earlier this month over the claims, but Gaetz declared last Friday that he's not "going anywhere" and vowed he had "not yet begun to fight."

Of note: The ad features footage from Project Veritas, a conservative activist group known for using practices considered unethical in journalism, including deceptive editing and spreading disinformation.

  • A man identified as a CNN employee in the ad speaks about the news outlet's coverage of Gaetz.
  • Representatives for Gaetz and CNN did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

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Why the startup world needs to ditch "unicorns" for "dragons"

When Aileen Lee originally coined the term "unicorn" in late 2013, she was describing the 39 "U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors."

Flashback: It got redefined in early 2015 by yours truly and Erin Griffith, in a cover story for Fortune, as any privately-held startup valued at $1 billion or more. At the time, we counted 80 of them.

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