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What Got Us Here? The Chucopedia Example of Censorship

In this next article in the series, who speaks for El Paso? we will continue to explore how the community is manipulated into accepting the status quo by using Chucopedia as the example.

Censorship is insidious in that its application isn’t often practiced out in the open. Consider the recent example of our article about herd immunity. On June 4, 2021, this publication published El Paso About To Achieve Herd Immunity? Miguel Juárez then shared the post to Chucopedia only for it to be rejected by the moderators of the Facebook group.

Screenshot of Chucopedia discussion about rejected article.

Challenging the decision to decline the article, Juárez sent an email to Debbie Nathan, one of the moderators. This was not the first time that Chucopedia was challenged about the censoring of our content.

In 2020, El Paso Politics began submitting our articles to Chucopedia, among other channels, as part of our audience engagement process. Miguel Juárez also submitted articles from El Paso News, including those written by this author. In an email on November 2, 2020, Debbie Nathan explained why Chucopedia refused to allow an article by this author and submitted by Juárez to Chucopedia.

According to Nathan, the polling article Oscar Leeser Is The Likely Winner Data Shows, showing that Oscar Leeser would prevail in the November 3 election, was “declined because the source of the supposed data is not transparent”. We used proprietary exit polling data tabulation to report our findings, as reported in our article. Like other publications we conduct our own exit polling to understand the political dynamics of the voters.

Nathan elaborated, “we don’t know who is asking people outside the polls how they voted, how many people are being asked, where they are when asked, nor who is running this questioning. We feel it’s not a good idea so close to the election to publish material purporting to say who’s polling better, when we have no idea what the nature of the ‘polling’ is, who’s doing it, who’s paying for it, etc.”

Nathan wrote that she was concerned with “unreliable data influencing an election”.

Our election prediction turned out to be mostly accurate. Our data undervalued Veronica Carbajal’s results.

Early into this year, when it became apparent to us that Chucopedia was actively censoring our articles, this author stopped submitting them to the group.

Although we continued discussing the issue of censorship on Chucopedia, Miguel Juárez’ most recent article submission was not known to this author until Juárez shared an email between him and Nathan about censorship.

In an email on June 6, 2021, Debbie Nathan explained to Juárez that an El Paso Times article recently published “regarding percentage of El Paso County residents vaccinated according to definitions related to acquisition of ‘herd immunity,’” showed that El Paso Politics’ data was “wrong”. Nathan wrote that our article “was not accepted for posting, in order to avoid misleading information about covid. (sic)”

In response, Juárez wrote that, “actually, the data is correct,” adding that “even the County Commissioners verified the information this past week at a Special Meeting.” Juárez added, “I think it’s more of a Paredes Blackout, while Chucopedia moderators freely post EPM’s (El Paso Matters) articles.”

El Paso Matters is owned and operated by Bob Moore, who worked with the Chucopedia moderators at the El Paso Times.

Juárez then wrote to Nathan, “If you’re going to run Chucopedia like a publication (which it’s not), please post your fact checking process publicly on your group page and report the numbers of articles which undergo the same scrutiny as Paredes’ articles, otherwise it would look like your mostly white moderators are picking on a Mexican contributor. In this era of Black Lives Matter, it doesn’t bode well.”

The email dialog was then shared to this author by Miguel Juárez.

In response, we provided Nathan a link to the Texas Health and Human Services COVID-19 Vaccination in Texas dashboard where state officials update the percentage of Texas residents who have been vaccinated daily, to back up our data.

We never received a response from Nathan to our data link and the article remained banned on the site.

A History Of Censorship

In April 2016, Robb Chavez posted a comment to A Look at How Public Personas are Manufactured. In the blog post, this author argued that the Lexmark wage dispute in Juárez was hijacked by certain individuals “to take credit for the efforts of the hard work by others” for political purposes. The Lexmark issue led to a lively discussion on Chucopedia. It then suddenly disappeared from the Facebook group.

On April 25, 2016, Debbie Nathan left a comment on the blog post writing that she took down the discussion on Chucopedia because she could not communicate with the individual that started the discussion. She wrote that she “assumed” that the individual was “blocking” communications, so she censored the discussion. After Nathan realized that the individual was not “blocking” communications she “reposted all the material” that she had taken down. Nathan went on to add, “Chucopedia has three administrators, all of us long time, award-winning border journalists with almost 100 years of experience among us, including in the national press.”

What Nathan reposted was incomplete. It was missing important commentary.

Robb Chavez then responded to Nathan in a comment writing that Nathan’s “explanation for deleting” his comments “is dubious.” Chavez added that he has “previously experienced Ms. Nathan deleting threads that became heated, or whose contents she disagreed with.” Chavez wrote that he was aware of “some off-line speculation prior to her most recent actions as to whether & when she would pull the plug” on the latest debate.

From then on, censorship and Debbie Nathan’s part in it has been a topic of discussion among several individuals.

In tomorrow’s article we will continue to explore how Chucopedia protects certain political powers by censoring posts. We will demonstrate how Bob Moore’s El Paso Matters benefits and why it happens. We believe that by the time our series of articles on who speaks for El Paso? ends the reader will have a clearer understanding why it hurts the community.

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