The White House says it is “looking into” an incident at Vice President Kamala Harris’ press conference in Mexico Tuesday night, where a woman, identified by a moderator as a reporter for Univision, was given the opportunity to ask a fawning question of the VP and to tell Harris that she voted for the Biden-Harris ticket in the 2020 presidential election.
The woman, who identified herself as Maria Fernanda but gave no last name — a moderator added that she was from Univision — first told Harris that she was a naturalized citizen and that she voted for Harris in the 2020 election: “Thank you Madame 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.”
She then asked Harris her advice for “women of color on both sides of the border.”
“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?” Fernanda drooled.
— Jorge Bonilla (@BonillaJL) June 8, 2021
The interaction set off a firestorm on social media, with commentators chastizing both the reporter and the Vice President. Eventually, the head of Univision, Daniel Coronell, weighed in, denying that “Maria Fernanda” worked for the network and suggested that the incident was a case of mistaken identity by a moderator calling on reporters who had questions.
“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,” he tweeted. Their reporter, Maria Fernanda Lopez, was in Miami, Florida, at the time of the interaction.
Symone Sanders, the vice president’s spokeswoman responded by saying that the Vice President’s office is “looking into” the incident.
“Thank you for bringing this to our attention,” Sanders tweeted. “We are looking into this.”
Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We are looking into this. https://t.co/5gVsyOoudr
— SDS (@SymoneSanders46) June 9, 2021
Sanders did not elaborate on what the concern was, but it appears Maria Fernanda Reyes — who, Fox News reported Wednesday, is “a San Francisco Bay area entrepreneur” who “spends much of her time traveling and works with farmers in the U.S., Mexico, and India” — was able to gain access to the press conference through contacts she had through activism, leaving some commentators to question whether there was adequate security at Harris’ event.
Maria Fernanda Reyes was “invited to the Harris event through connections she has through her work. She said like everyone else who was there, she was asked if she would be interested in asking Harris a question,” Fox News said. “She said she was surprised by how quickly her question blew up. She said that she wished the substance of her question got more attention than the mistake.”
She also told Univision’s morning program, “Despierta América,” that she tried to correct the record.
“[A]t the end of the press conference, the Univision reporter and I both approached the same (WH) communications person, and we clarified, advising that María Fernanda Reyes is (from) Stanford Latino,” she told the Univision morning anchor. “In fact, she took notes and said, ‘Don’t worry. This will be clarified in the White House transcript. It was a mistake on our end.'”
The Univision anchor told Maria Fernanda Reyes that the transcript was not updated. “This morning- it’s been nearly 24 hours after the fact- the White House has not yet issued any clarification in that regard. On the contrary, they thanked us for issuing the clarification and have made no correction.”
The White House has not commented further on the incident.
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