Many individuals commented to me that I was completely delusional about my belief that the up-and-coming Newspaper Tree was going to be nothing more than a propaganda outlet for Woody Hunt and his friends: Paul Foster, Bill Sanders and the other proponents of the destruction of El Paso. My blog post of March 7, 2013 described how the non-profit designation was important to them. My hypothesis is that the cabal must control the public perception of the community in order to continue to push forth their public policy agenda. One of the ways they do this is by controlling the public discussion. This is where the Newspaper Tree comes in.

Everyone knows that the mass-media, as we once understood it to be, is no longer feasible with the advent of blogging. News is more difficult to control now because most bloggers don’t care much about money, or their overhead is so little that they can’t be economically threatened. Their driving force is their own personal agenda. With the costs to produce and publish a blog post being close to zero the ability of the bloggers to dominate the public perception increasingly grows. The newspapers cannot compete with online media because their overhead is just too costly. Professional journalists are forced to reinvent themselves leaving a void the newspaper previously filled.

In the case of El Paso, the daily local news is filled by the four local television stations. The televised news is dominated by quick sound-bites limiting their ability to offer full coverage of the political events of the community. Gotcha and to the point local politics is all that they can offer. This is because the television audience tunes in for the weather, the fluff and the digested news bites in between the television shows they actually tuned in to watch in the first place. Notice how the commentary about the television news media centers on the inconvenience of the interruption of a favorite show to bring “late-breaking news” or that the weather person wasn’t correct. Television news is about quick sound bites that the viewership ingests to feel like they know what is going on in the city. Those looking for national, international, economic or sports, except local school sports, rely on the Internet or national broadcasts.

The print media, covering local political news are the El Paso Inc., and the El Paso Times. The problem for both is their inability to offer proper coverage of the local political scene. In the case of the El Paso, Inc., as a business centered weekly news outlet, they are both hampered by their limited coverage and reach. In the case of the El Paso Times their attempt to cover the full local political spectrum is hampered by Bob Moore’s insistence at being part of the news rather than letting his subordinates cover the news like a newspaper should.

The other print media in El Paso, El Diario, is currently a footnote as a resource for informing the electorate. Although the paper has a wide reach it is nonetheless a Spanish speaking community that it engages. Unfortunately, the voters that actually cast a vote on Election Day are a small subset of the overall electorate of the community. This group is politically engaged and active in staying informed about the political issues. Generally they are comfortable in the English language. These are the people that vote the politicians into office. The Diario’s engagement of them is extremely limited.

The ruling cabal is too aware of this and they fully understand the advantage of controlling the engaged voters’ perception of the public policy agenda.

As examples, take the 2001 election of Ray Caballero. Initially Caballero controlled the public perception by creating the impression that he was going to significantly change the political divide of the city. He created the public perception of riding in on a “white horse” to save the community. He did this by gaming his announcement of running for office. He first proclaimed his support Belen Robles and just before the deadline to file for office he announced his candidacy. This strategy allowed him to create “face time” in the political circuit without having to defend his agenda. He controlled his public persona through a now defunct political radio show and with the help of Bob Moore at the El Paso Times. And he had his groupies devouring everything he had to feed them. This allowed him the ability to erode Larry Francis’ platform by allowing the political undercurrent to be developed against Francis by others while he proclaimed innocence. Ray Caballero knew that with the number of candidates the outcome would be determined by a run-off election, all he needed to do was place second on election night.

Two things significant things worked against Larry Francis. The first was that although he was not the incumbent he was treated as such because he had a previous political history. He was forced to defend it. Ray Caballero was the newcomer and he had no record that he needed to defend. Although he had plenty of detractors, including his own family, Ray Caballero was able to silence them via the support of the El Paso Times and the creation of political undercurrent in the electorate consciousness through Beto O’Rourke’s Stanton Street Magazine and the radio station.

Public perception was manipulated in order to catapult Ray Caballero into office. Caballero never realized this, instead he thought it was his own charisma had put him in office and he immediately ignored the power of the internet driven community perception. He and his cohorts soon realized that what did them in was their late realization that the political radio driven public perception model was now replaced by the internet driven one.

After Caballero’s loss, they immediately went to work. They funded, supported and cultivated the Newspaper Tree as the vehicle to put them into office. Susie Byrd, Veronica Escobar, Steve Ortega and Beto O’Rourke, disciples of Ray Caballero used the Newspaper Tree as their base of operations to put themselves into office. The network they built was used to control the public policy agenda and the network’s database was used to reach directly into the engaged voters. This base of influence was leveraged directly to the active and likely voter.

Two things happened at this point, the first was that they soon became distracted by their individual ambitions and, two; the realization that organically produced online propaganda requires a paid staff. At first they tried a traditional business model based on advertising revenues. That immediately negated their ability to influence public policy because of their reliance on advertising revenues from the general community. Basically businesses had no interest in supporting an agenda driven outlet.

But since they were riding high on their own success they never realized the anger against the “progressives” that was rising within the community. Of course, the FBI investigation into public corruption forced everyone to take a step backwards and let the dust settle a little before embarking further on their own agenda.

At first they felt some the community’s anger towards them but they felt they were in control as they were insulated by bureaucracy and they controlled the County, through Veronica Escobar, the city through Susie Byrd and Steve Ortega and they even had leverage at the federal level through Beto O’Rourke. They continued to be insulated from the community’s anger, or so they thought.

But they had learned their lesson from the Ray Caballero saga and started to take steps by looking for ways to resurrect their Newspaper Tree as a vehicle for the agenda. They wrapped themselves around the cloak of “ending corruption” as their battle cry and enlisted Woody Hunt to fund their public manipulation engine. Of course, Hunt is no dummy and realized that not only could he leverage a tool for his stable of useful idiots but he could also get some of his money back through donations to non-profits. It also had the air of him investing in his own community. And the model had the added benefit of the potential of using public funds as part of the funding mechanism. After all, the Community Scholars had not only funded the latest stable of useful idiots but it had done so with the taxpayer’s own monies via the local public schools.

So in 2010 they embarked on making the now defunct Newspaper Tree a non-profit. It was approved earlier this year. This month they posted job and intern postings that indicated that they had hoped to fill them during the month of June.

When they will actually begin to publish is still a question and I think it will have a lot to do with the outcome of Saturday’s elections. What we do know are two things.

First, the editor and publisher is Emanuel Anthony Martinez. Martinez worked for Ray Caballero in 2003. He was the one that actually launched the Newspaper Tree before going off to work for Eliot Shapleigh. The Newspaper Tree was actually an offshoot of Beto O’Rourke’s online magazine, Stanton Street, from circa 1999 to 2002. Notice the dots that are beginning to connect?

Second, guess who the major benefactor is to the Newspaper Tree. That would be Woody Hunt. Those of you who have followed my rants here know that Woody Hunt, Paul Foster and Bill Sanders are the ones directly behind the destruction of city hall and the taxpayer funded ballpark. And, according to outgoing mayor John Cook’s recent mea-culpa, Hunt met with Joyce Wilson to secretly destroy city hall and to get the taxpayers to pay for their latest playground, the ballpark.

You also know that I have been asserting that Ray Caballero continues to be connected to Susie Byrd, Veronica Escobar, Beto O’Rourke, Steve Ortega and Eliot Shapleigh’s ongoing political shenanigans. All of these are interconnected to each other, as well as Paul Foster, Myrna Deckert, Woody Hunt and Bill Sanders. There are a few others from the Mexican side of the border that have their own agenda but are working in conjunction with their El Paso counterparts. In later editions I will begin to reveal them to you.

In the case of my belief that the resurrection of the Newspapre Tree as a propaganda machine, of course, the normal response is where is the proof? It’s just another rant from a blogger, in this case me.

As the downtown debacle continues to unravel more and more information is starting to filter out. Among the latest is from journalist Debbie Nathan, who in 2003 wrote a very favorable profile of Ray Caballero for the Texas Observer titled; “El Mayor vs. Los Good Old Boys”. Debbie Nathan is not your typical “blogger” instead she is a journalist with years of experience. Also, her writings seem to indicate that she supported the initiatives of the “progressives” as led by Ray Caballero.

Although I have never met Nathan personally my two or three email interactions with her, as well as her writings on Facebook portray her to be an old-style journalist that abhors what journalism has become as a result of the Internet.

Recently Nathan has posted two very poignant online posts that clearly show the bias in the upcoming Newspaper Tree and her postings support my argument. Nathan is no blogger; in fact she has shown a serious distaste for the blogging community. More importantly, Debbie Nathan was employed by the Newspaper Tree in anticipation of becoming one of their lead investigative reporters. That is until she was “shown the door” as she writes in a comment she made on “El Chuqueño” blog on June 6, 2012.

In that blog, Nathan describes how she researched and was ready to publish a report regarding the downtown ballpark. Debbie Nathan wrote that she wanted to publish her piece on the downtown ballpark but that the El Paso Community Foundation “didn’t want to share it with other media” and did not want to publish it either. Nathan adds that she attempted to get a copy of a PDNG report and in response a “major El Paso Community Fdn. (Foundation) donor, then visited Eric Pearson and complained” about her asking for the report. She adds that the donor suggested that the “Newspaper Tree” show her the door. Debbie Nathan then writes on that blog comment that she was “shown the door”.

Although she does not name the “major donor” we can assume that it could be Woody Hunt as he is the one who gave a major donation to the El Paso Community Foundation that allowed it to purchase the Newspaper Tree assets from Keith Mahar and have the seed money to hire Louie Gilot, Anthony Martinez, Nathan and others without publishing a single write up.

On June 11, 2013; Debbie Nathan posted on her Facebook the following:

“I vividly remember the attending hours of the June 26, 2012 City Council meeting and returning to the Newspaper Tree office literally nauseous, after witnessing the baseball-stadium vote taken away from the citizenry in one fell swoop. I had already read stadium advisor Rick Horrow’s book, the one Mayor Cook discusses in the piece below. I spent the rest of the summer, while Newspaper Tree dragged its heels about publishing, trying to get other journalists at functioning papers, such as David Crowder at Inc., to read Horrow. And I kept talking about that shocking June 26 meeting. My reporting certainly predicted the political brouhaha that has overtaken the city now. But unfortunately, because of Community Fdn’s unwillingness to let NPT publish, my reporting languished. Notable now is that NPT’s current publisher, Anthony Martinez — who is also acting as editor–is very close to Steve Ortega: socializes with him and has been appointed twice by Ortega to city boards. NPT was funded by Woody Hunt primarily, per Hunt, to “fight corruption.” A narrow view of corruption confines it to illegal acts. A broader view, which the national press and poli folks discuss, is political machination without transparency. If Newspaper Tree in its new incarnation sticks to the traditional definition, you’ll see lots of expose of small fry with names like Willy and Chilo, and nothing about the much more sophisticated kind of corruption that troubles El Paso.”

I have on previous occasions tried to ask Debbie Nathan about the information she has about downtown redevelopment and although she has been cordial she, nonetheless, has not been willing to let me quote her on my blog. I get the sense that she wants nothing to do with me or bloggers in general so although I would have liked to get her input on these items I did not bother and instead let her posts speak for themselves.

Her Facebook post is very telling and to the point. She wrote that Anthony Martinez “is very close to Steve Ortega”. She also acknowledges that the Newspaper Tree was “funded by Woody Hunt”.

And she then adds something that clearly supports my notion that the Newspaper Tree will be nothing more than an agenda-driven publication designed to sway public policy. She wrote that “you’ll see lots of expose of small fry with names like Willy and Chilo, and nothing about much more sophisticated kind of corruption that troubles El Paso.”

This clearly lays out the agenda of the upcoming Newspaper Tree. It is no longer the notion of a blogger without proof.

This issue becomes even more important as Saturday’s elections come to a close. Regardless of the outcome on Saturday night the cabal is now fully aware that the electorate is angry. They are also very vulnerable to a new political faction stepping in to claim a piece of El Paso. They will not want to allow this to happen and this makes the launch of the Newspaper Tree very critical to them.

Do not be surprised to see the Newspaper Tree come alive quickly should Oscar Leeser win on Saturday night and not play ball with the cabal. With the city manager position likely to become a political hot potato I have no doubt that the initial pieces from Martinez’ Newspaper Tree will be focused on managing the future of the city manager’s position in El Paso.

Although Hunt would like the community to believe that his generosity in funding the Newspaper Tree is about fighting corruption the reality, as perfectly laid out by Nathan is that fighting corruption comes in many different flavors. Which corruption do you think Hunt and et al will allow the Newspaper Tree to focus on?

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...