A woman introduced as a Univision reporter lavished praise on Vice President Kamala Harris during a press event in Mexico, even saying she voted for her, but the outlet now insists it has no tie to the self-avowed journalist.
Named as “Maria Fernanda at Univision,” the woman was permitted to ask the VP a question at the Tuesday presser, one of just five journalists called on by staffers for Harris. Before doing so, however, the woman took the opportunity to state “it’s an honor because I actually got to vote for the first time as a naturalized citizen, and I voted for you.”
However, it wasn’t long before the president of Univision News, Daniel Coronell, took to Twitter to distance his organization from the mysterious woman, in both English and Spanish. He gave her full name as “Maria Fernanda Reyes,” but maintained she does not work for Univision, offering no other details.
“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 Kamala Harris,” he said.
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
An anchor for the outlet, Ilia Calderon, echoed Coronell’s post, also stating the woman is not employed with Univision.
Moreover, Univision already had its own correspondent reporting from the press event, Jesica Zermeno, as was noted by Jorge Bonilla of Newsbusters.
While a reporter by the name of Maria Fernanda Lopez does work for a Miami Univision affiliate, the journalist cleared up confusion in a tweet early on Wednesday morning, saying she is not the woman who appeared at the Harris presser.
“I am Maria Fernanda LOPEZ, as stated by our News Director @DCoronell it was a misunderstanding,” she said, adding that she has never traveled to Mexico and was in Miami during the incident with the VP.
Harris’ office has so far offered no clarification on the matter, leaving it unknown how the woman made it through security or what credentials she had to attend the press conference. The VP’s chief spokesperson, Symone Sanders, did note that the Harris team is “looking into” the issue, however.
Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We are looking into this. https://t.co/5gVsyOoudr
— SDS (@SymoneSanders46) June 9, 2021
With the mystery unsolved, theories quickly proliferated online. Critics of both Harris and Univision suggested the mishap could indicate a major “security breach,” or that the media outlet has not been fully forthcoming about its link to the woman.
This means either one of two things:1. @UnivisionNews and @UnivisionPRTeam are lying to us and they have a journalistic scandal on their hands.2. They broke through the @SecretService and the @VP‘s press team led by @SymoneDSanders, which would mean this was a security breach.
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) June 9, 2021
This is a major security breach. How did that happen??? I’m actually worried someone with false credentials got this close to MVP. This time everything ended “well” and no one was hurt, but what about next time?
— Olivia 💛🐝 it’s VP HARRIS (@itsmadamvpforya) June 9, 2021
Yikes, that’s a pretty big security breach.
— JellyKind (@JellyKind) June 9, 2021
Others also questioned the enigmatic woman’s commitment to objectivity, suggesting that reporters don’t typically introduce questions with their personal voting preferences.
What an odd thing to say if your job is to be an impartial reporter.
— Michele Perez Exner (@michelepexner) June 9, 2021
Thank God we have a fair minded and free press to keep politicians and those in power in check, huh?
— Non Compliant Huckleberry (@thepocketgeek) June 8, 2021