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Vice President Kamala Harris speaks to the media, June 8, 2021, in Mexico City. (AP) Vice President Kamala Harris speaks to the media, June 8, 2021, in Mexico City. (AP)

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks to the media, June 8, 2021, in Mexico City. (AP)

Gabrielle Settles
By Gabrielle Settles June 10, 2021

If Your Time is short

  • The person who told Kamala Harris “I voted for you” at a Mexico City news conference was not a Univision reporter. She was part of an academic research program.

  • She was introduced during the press Q&A portion by White House staff as being with Univision. 

  • The White House said the woman misrepresented herself as part of Univision’s crew.

An incident at a June 8, 2021, press conference with Vice President Kamala Harris in Mexico City turned heads among journalists and non-journalists alike. But what appeared to be a breach of professional ethics turned out to be a case of misidentification. 

During the news conference, a woman who was introduced by Harris’ chief White House spokesperson Symone Sanders as "Maria Fernanda at Univision," told Harris before asking a question, "For me it’s an honor, because I actually got to vote for the first time as a nationalized citizen, and I voted for you."  

Harris appeared grateful, but some in the media were piqued by the apparent ethical breach. News reporters for mainstream networks are generally barred by ethics codes from publicly expressing their political leanings. 

 

Los Angeles Times White House reporter Noah Bierman chided the questioner, tweeting, "Not sure I’ve ever seen a reporter tell a politician that she voted for her, as a Univision reporter just did during the Kamala Harris news conference before asking a question."

But later in the day, Univision and White House personnel issued statements seeking to clear up what happened: The questioner, identified as Maria Fernanda Reyes, was not a Univision reporter — or a reporter at all. 

Univision’s president, Daniel Coronell, tweeted: "Let it be clear to everyone that Ms. Maria Fernanda Reyes is not part of this media organization."

A real Univision reporter with a similar name, Maria Fernanda Lopez, tweeted to clarify that she was not the one who asked the question at the press conference.

"I have never traveled to Mexico, I was in ... Miami during the incident where Maria Fernanda REYES claimed to be a reporter of @UniNoticias [and] asked @KamalaHarris saying an unethical comment," Lopez tweeted.

A White House official said the questioner had "misrepresented herself to the vice president’s staff as part of Univision’s crew, which was properly credentialed for the event. This person underwent the same level of security screening and was never a security threat to the VP."

José Zamora, Univision’s senior vice president of strategic communications and news, said Reyes was invited to the press conference due to her role in a research and education program at Stanford University called the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative

"She was called to make a question and introduced as a member of Univision," Zamora said. "They introduced her incorrectly, and both her and the person that introduced her failed to make the necessary correction."

Zamora pointed to a June 9, 2021 Univision interview with Reyes, where the mixup was clarified and corrected. 

Correction: An earlier version of this story wrongly said Reyes was invited to the press conference by Univision. The story has been updated. 

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News conference attendee who told Kamala Harris “I voted for you” was not a reporter