There has been a furious Internet debate in Mexican-American circles ever since I wrote a story about how Teresa Hernandez, a prominent member of the Orange County Republican Party and token Mexican in the influential Lincoln Club, outed herself as a fan of Donald Trump to the Orange County Register, going so far as to say "I also love him." Calls to boycott Cielito Lindo, the Mexican restaurant in South El Monte operated by Teresa and her husband, Jose, began to spread, along with barbs thrown at Jose, a big name in the mariachi world through his Mariachi Sol de Mexico. On the other side, Hernandez's supporters have called me a liar, a yellow journalist, and other niceties (most prominent among them: failed Santa Ana Unified School District Board of Trustees candidate Angie Rosario Cano and current member Cecilia Iglesias, the latter who said on Facebook that I'm "always out to destroy our own Latino community with his negative journalism"—congrats! Now you've got my attention).
Somewhere in the mix of all this was Ann Coulter, who declared Cielito Lindo the best Mexican restaurant in California while tweeting out my story—just STFU, Ann! And I've received dozens of emails and Facebook messages by readers in the middle of it all, who wanted to know if my article was real, if I wasn't making stuff up
All in a day's work. But far more noxious has been attempts by Teresa and Jose to walk back her professed Trump love while trashing the reporting of myself and Register writer Martin Wisckol. Through a campaign of innuendo, misinformation, and outright lies, Teresa and Jose—but especially Jose—have tried to save face during this mess at the expense of two reporters just doing their jobs.
The fun started on February 28, the day my story originally appeared. That morning, Teresa reached out to me via email to let me know "some statements about my position...are not true" and that she "would be happy to be interviewed, so the correct statements could be printed." I wasn't able to respond until two days later—there was that whole Anaheim KKK beatdown I had to deal with. Over email, I asked Teresa if Wisckol had misquoted her and that I was "more than happy to run any response" she had.
Teresa never responded. But by then, Jose was already on the warpath. The following appeared on his personal Facebook page on Feb. 27:
In case Hernandez makes his page private and the above is no longer viewable, the money quotes are that my piece was "misleading" and full of "lies," that I didn't interview Jose or Teresa, and that I made people think that he supports Trump. But Jose is playing nothing but pendejadas here. My article specifically stated that I was using Teresa's quotes from Wiskol's story. There was no reason for me to interview her or Jose about her statements—the story was about what Teresa had told the Register, especially the parts where she said, "I also love [Trump]" despite being "scared what he is going to say" and "I am willing to overlook all of The Donald’s flaws" if he did things she agreed with in spite of his overall scumbaggery.
I also never said or even implied that Jose supported Trump, but did point out the truth: that he's married to Teresa, that his Mariachi Sol de Mexico once did a performance in front of a bunch of old gabachos at the Balboa Bay Club that was Hispandering at its worst, and that he has previously performed at Republican fundraisers. In fact, thanks to the glories of NBC News, here's Jose Hernandez a couple of years ago doing a tequila shot with failed GOP candidates Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina during the annual dinner of the Hispanic 100 PAC, a group of OC vendidos who support Republican causes and candidates (here's the link in case the below doesn't work):
Jose didn't stop with his Facebook post. Ever since, he (and to a lesser extent, his wife) has jumped on any and every Facebook thread to whine about my story, claiming in one thread that "We don't even know [OC Weekly], never met them"—a damn lie, considering we interviewed him over the phone about his mariachi outreach in Orange County four years ago. He even started trolling me on my personal Instagram—Instagram!—to the point where I had to block him.
Last week, Jose ratcheted up his campaign against me—but this time, he also went against Wisckol. On March 31, he appeared on a KMEX-TV Channel 34 segment ostensibly tied to the 35th anniversary of Mariachi Sol de Mexico. I say "ostensibly," because while 2016 is the group's coral anniversary year, the video really served as propaganda for Hernandez to rehabilitate his image—even though my story wasn't about him—and defend his wife's honor. The segment is titled online in Spanish as "Jose Hernandez, Mariachi Sol de Mexico, Denies Supporting Donald Trump," and while KMEX doesn't allow embedding of its videos, you can see it in its entirety here.
The Sol de Mexico frontman was able to toss out catnip to Spanish-speaking fans like "I've always [had it in] in my heart that I'm 100 percent Mexican" and that his job is to try to get "young [Mexicans] to feel proud of who they are." And KMEX reporter Stephanie Bradford—who gushed that Jose was a "grand representative of Mexican culture around the world" who "feels a great commitment to our community" and whose Sol de Mexico "continues to be one of the best mariachis in the United States"—took Jose's bait. In her narration, Bradford stated that the Hernandezes "have been in the eye of a hurricane, following an article that said Jose Hernandez, with his wife, Teresa, support Donald Trump."
That was a perfect tee for Jose to take the following swing, where he tried to conflate my story with Wisckol's:
It was an interview where my wife was talking about candidates who do not have much support from large corporations. And she was talking about Bernie Sanders—that she likes something about Bernie Sanders—and also [liked] a thing about Donald Trump: that he was [financing his own campaign] with his own money. But...they took out EVERYTHING that she said about immigration, that she didn't agree with Trump, and they only put the... "Oh, I like Donald Trump." And that—eso no se vale [that's not fair], right?
First off, my article never said Jose supported Trump—Bradford obviously didn't read my story (on Twitter, she claims the article she cited wasn't mine, but another that a viewer sent her. Riiiiiight...). Segundamente, Jose claimed in Spanish that the Teresa quote that got everyone's chonis in a bunch was "Me gusta Donald Trump"—a linguistic sleight-of-hand, since that translates as "I like Donald Trump," while what she actually said—"I also love him"—would translate in Jose's inexact phrasing as "Me encanta Donald Trump." That's a whole other level of commitment in Mexican Spanish, a distinction Jose should know.
More mendacious is Hernandez's description of Wisckol's article. It had nothing to do with outsider candidates and everything to do with Trump—hell, the headline is "Among Orange County's Republicans, Trump is Trouble." Sanders is never mentioned, nor corporations, nor even Trump's self-financed campaign. Teresa is introduced in the story under the section headline "Trump Champion," which also featured GOP wacko Deborah Pauley.
So what did Teresa say about Trump? Here's the first, unexpurgated passage:
Newport Beach small-business owner Teresa Hernandez is among those favoring Trump, though it’s not without mixed feelings.
“He makes me cringe when he speaks,” said Hernandez. “I am scared what he is going to say. But I also love him. I want someone who is going to turn the tables over in Washington. I want someone who has backbone and won’t be bought and knows how to out-negotiate the lobbyists.”
She worries that Rubio and Cruz are too young and could be more susceptible to caving in to special interest pressure if elected. “Trump (is) rough around the edges, but he won’t be bought and he’s enough of a narcissist to come through on his promises (to) bring back jobs, build up the economy,” she said.
That enthusiasm goes beyond what Jose claimed, no? Now, another section:
Specifically, critics point to the Trump’s characterization of many of those crossing the border as “criminals and rapists,” his proposed deportation of everyone in the country illegally and his proposal to build a wall along the southern border.
Hernandez countered that it remains up to the GOP as a whole to recruit and elect more Latino candidates, and to pass immigration reform if it is to connect with the Latino community.
“But more than anything, Latinos want jobs, and if the economy gets better and the process to come across legally gets streamlined, things will change,” she said. “I am willing to overlook all of The Donald’s flaws.”
Sure sounds like support to me!
Teresa—as I pointed out in my original story—has desperately tried in the past to get the Republican Party to stop its scorched-earth policy against Mexicans. In that light, her comments regarding Trump's draconian immigration plan isn't a repudiation of the candidate she professes to love—it's equivocation at its worst.
Now, it could've very well been that Teresa professed her feeling El Bern to Wisckol, and more ardently denounced Trump's immigration plans, and that those quotes didn't make it into the final Register piece. But she never had a problem with his story until after I pointed out her fandom—no correction has run in the Register regarding her quotes, and the article's online time stamp shows there has been no change to it since the day it went up. And when I asked Wisckol—the Register's political reporter since the 1990s, and someone who has written many sympathetic stories about Teresa over the years, including one in 2015 where Teresa said she thought Trump's candidate trait at the time was "negotiator-in-chief"—about Jose's assertions against his reporting, he responded, "My story speaks for itself and I stand by my story."
For the record, Jose denounced Trump in the KMEX report and online, calling him "poison for our people"—good for him. But it was never about you, Jose: it was always about what your wife said, which I remind you is "I also love him"—referring to Trump—and which she nor you have ever denied Teresa saying. And since you decided to make yourself part of the story...well, now you know the rest of the story.
By the way, Jose and Teresa: I would've let ustedes and your acolytes trash-talk me and the Weekly to your desire want if Tere hadn't written the following on Facebook last week, in response to critics:
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More pendejadas.Campaign finance records obtained by the Weekly indicate Teresa has only donated to Republican candidates or causes on a federal, state, and countywide level since 2009, including her own laughable congressional campaign some years back. As we showed above, Jose is very much involved in politics—Mariachi Sol de Mexico also played at a Hispanic 100 event in 2011 where Newt Gingrich was a keynote speaker. Wisckol, not me, originally identified Teresa as "favoring Trump." And to invoke Jesus' name against critics on Good Friday is downright blasphemy—eso no se vale, no?
Don't forget, Tere: it's you who said "But I also love him," referring to Trump. You and your husband can spin that all you want, cry media conspiracy—but you'll have to answer for that one forever.