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Citizen pulls plug on Three Sonorans blog

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Citizen pulls plug on Three Sonorans blog

  • Morales, in a photo from his Facebook profile.
    Morales, in a photo from his Facebook profile.

The progressive blog Three Sonorans is no longer to be found at the Tucson Citizen blogging site. Writer David Morales said his blog, which focused on left-wing politics and the Tucson Unified School District's ethnic studies program, was pulled from the site Wednesday morning.

Mark Evans, the administrator of the Citizen's collection of local bloggers, confirmed that he shut down the blog, saying his action was sparked by a "reckless disregard for the truth."

Morales announced the shut down in a posting on Facebook. He did not return repeated phone calls asking for comment.

"This decision wasn't taken lightly. I've been thinking about it for a couple of weeks after (Morales) took out recall petitions on (TUSD Governing Board member Michael) Hicks," Evans said.

But Evans said Morales could continue to write about TUSD if he declared his conflict of interest.

Evans said he moved to shut down the blog because of a "constant reckless disregard for the truth."

Morales "won't call sources he criticizes to give them an opportunity to defend themselves or at least explain their position, even after I've asked him to do so," Evans said.

Evans said he told Morales on Wednesday morning that he was closing the blog.

The Three Sonorans page on the Citizen site has been replaced by a message reading "This user has elected to delete their account and the content is no longer available."

Evans said Morales' writing has been the subject of reader complaints about accuracy, including from state Rep. Daniel Patterson, who threatened legal action over a recent post.

"While the untruth Patterson complained about was minor, it was just one more example," Evans said.

Complaints about Morales' blog were made by anti-ethnic studies activist Lori Hunnicutt (who also briefly had a Citizen blog), TUSD Board President Mark Stegeman, TUSD Assistant Superintendent Lupita Garcia, and the Senate campaign of Rodney Glassman, among others, Evans said.

"All of the times I've asked him to change a post he has, or he has elected to delete them himself," Evans said.

"I only ever deleted one of his posts in which, after Glassman had complained, (Morales) deleted the post, then wrote a new one restating the falsehood as reason for why he deleted the previous one. That simply recommitted the crime, so to speak, so I deleted it," Evans said.

After newspaper chain Gannett Inc. shut down the Tucson Citizen's press and newsgathering operation in May 2009, the company turned the website into a collection of local bloggers. Gannett was under pressure from the U.S. Justice Department and Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard, and ended an investigation into the newspaper's closure by claiming the site would continue to offer a separate "editorial voice" in Tucson.

Evans said he discussed closing the Three Sonorans blog with Gannett executive Kate Marymont, but that "she in no way ordered me to boot him off."

Evans said he "told her I was struggling with determining whether the benefit he brought to the site was being outweighed by the liability he brought to the site. She suggested that, on balance, he's probably harming the reputation of the site and suggested I remove him from the site and let him host his blog elsewhere."

"In the end, it's better for both of us. He won't have anyone to answer to but himself and his readers and I won't have to worry about getting angry phone calls from pissed off people at my mother's funeral," Evans said.

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