The Biden administration is no stranger to softball questions from reporters, but in a press conference yesterday with Vice President Kamala Harris, one “reporter” acknowledged her bias outright.
The problem? She was not a reporter at all.
During the Q&A portion of Harris’s press conference in Mexico City, Harris called on Maria Fernanda, a reporter that the White House identified as affiliated with Univision.
Fernanda began her question, saying “Thank you, Madam Vice President. For me it’s an honor because I actually got to vote for the first time as a nationalized citizen. I voted for you.”
VP Kamala Harris calls on Univision reporter, who says “I voted for you.”
Harris responds, “thank you.” pic.twitter.com/k95OTWqKKe
— Mark Bednar (@MarkBednar) June 9, 2021
While the agenda of reporters at CNN and MSNBC is well-known and documented, none of their journalists have ever prefaced a question with whom they cast their ballot for.
Fernanda continued, “My question is, what would you say to these women, those mothers and also women of color on both sides of the border, farmers, many of them who I see every day as a message of hope but also as–what will you do for them in the next coming years?”
Harris proceeded to answer her question, but the interaction caught backlash on behalf of Fernanda and Univision.
Curtis Houck, editor of Newsbusters, tweeted at Univision demanding to know whether or not they were okay with their reporter’s implicit bias after saying she became a U.S. citizen right before the election so she could vote “for [Harris].”
🚨🚨 Univision reporter @mafelopeztv tells Vice President Harris that she became a U.S. citizen right before the election so she could vote “for you.”
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) June 8, 2021
Daniel Coronell, president of Univision News, took to Twitter to do some damage control. He stated that the individual “has no association with Univision” but “claimed to be a reporter.”
He continued, “Let it be clear to everyone that Ms. Maria Fernanda Reyes is not part of this media organization.”
In Mexico an individual which has no association with @Univision claimed to be a reporter for @UniNoticias in order to ask the @VP a question and to compliment @KamalaHarris. Let it be clear to everyone that Ms. Maria Fernanda Reyes is not part of this media organization https://t.co/edxyzRVlt8
— Daniel Coronell (@DCoronell) June 9, 2021
It seems there is a Univision reporter by the name of Maria Fernanda, however she is based in Miami. She told Fox News on Tuesday: “My name is Maria Fernanda LOPEZ, I have never traveled in my life to Mexico. I was in Miami during the incident where a lady named Maria Fernanda REYES was presented by mistake as a Univision reporter, which is incorrect.”
Maria Fernanda Reyes, the attendee mistaken for a Univision reporter, said that she did not correct the moderator when called on her because she got caught up in the moment.
According to her LinkedIn profile, Reyes is a San Francisco Bay area entrepreneur who works with farmers in the U.S., Mexico and India. Reyes was in Mexico City Tuesday helping Mayan farmers and the impoverished when she was asked by colleagues to attend the vice president’s event, according to Fox News.
Her page says she is the founder of AdoptaHero with ties to Stanford University’s Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative.
When asked about the incident, the White House pointed to a tweet from Symone Sanders, Harris’s chief spokesperson, saying the office is “looking into” the matter.
Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We are looking into this. https://t.co/5gVsyOoudr
— SDS (@SymoneSanders46) June 9, 2021
Given that Reyes’s ties with Univision were disproven, Newsbusters editor Curtis Houck pointed out this was likely a security breach at the event which Sanders and the Secret Service will have to answer for.
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) June 9, 2021
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) June 9, 2021
Reyes told Fox News that she wished the substance of her question got more attention than the mistake.
“Everyone’s trying to twist it for their own agenda,” she told Fox News.
“I don’t care. I asked a question,” she added. “If people don’t like it, fine.”
The Biden administration often screens and pre-approves a list of reporters and questions before any kind of press event. There have been no updates yet from the White House on what caused the mistake, nor any word on if they plan to employ new vetting measures.
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