Maria Elena Salinas Slams OC Weekly Reporter for Writing Truth About CSUF Speech Fiasco

Our clubs editor Denise De La Cruz has had one hell of a week. On Sunday, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Cal State Fullerton’s College of Communication. On Monday, she wrote a first-person account of how the comm school’s keynote speaker, Univisión anchor Maria Elena Salinas, got booed for speaking Spanish and trashing Trump. Tuesday, Denise saw her story go national; Wednesday saw her do interviews with the Washington Post, New York Times, and more. On Thursday, she realized that Cal State Fullerton’s private Facebook page for the school’s Latino Communications Initiative (a group for Latino comm majors) had kicked her out—this after a week of students and professors complaining that she had brought shame to Cal State Fullerton. And today, Denise gets to deal with the aftermath of Salinas penning an extraordinarily petty column trashing the 23-year-old for her coverage.

All for telling the truth.

In her column, Salinas played the role of wide-eyed innocent who just couldn’t comprehend why her speech—a rambling discourse that was so Latino-centric, it was better suited for a MEChA conference instead of a general commencement—would set off such a firestorm, insisting she never once bashed Trump or urged students to hold politicians like him in check. “I never considered my speech to be ‘bold,'” Salinas wrote, “and had no clue there had been a ‘backlash.'”

So who did she decide to blame for a nasty hate wave directed at her? Denise. 

After extensively quoting a Twitter direct-message exchange between the two (more on that in a bit), Salinas insisted Denise “did not report what I said, but what she thought I was implying. What people read is her interpretation of what I said.”

And then she just got shady:

I’m sure she’ll have a great future in the business. But do we see a lesson here in accurate reporting? Should journalists skip the facts and just provide their personal interpretation of what happened, regardless of the consequences? Granted there is nothing wrong with reporting on how my comments were perceived, but do we just completely erase the already blurred lines between opinion and factual reporting? I don’t think that’s what I meant when I said young journalists are going to re-invent the news business.

Maria: As we say in Spanish, no te hagas.

First off, Salinas quoted Denise without Denise’s knowledge or permission—a bush-league, unethical move even interns know never to do. The two had a long conversation that the Weekly has a copy of; not once did Salinas ask Denise if she could interview her or let our reporter know that the back-and-forth would be used for a column. Far from it, actually: Salinas told Denise, “I have been asked to write a column about what happened but I don’t like grandstanding.”

So instead, the Peabody winner decided to grandstand by writing a column. And before that, she was reduced to publicly trolling 23-year-old Denise on Twitter: 

And Salinas tried to friend Denise on Facebook—huh?

So did Denise offer a “personal interpretation,” or report what Salinas said? First off, any words Salinas might offer on Trump must be colored by the fact she works for Univisión, which has rightfully treated Trump as the monster he is. She previously wrote in a Spanish-language Univisión column that Latino journalists are raring at the bit to go after Trump because his words against Latinos are “the equivalent of a declaration of war against” Latinos, and, “as in any war, an aggression against one of our own brings pride and nationalism to the surface. Insult Hispanic immigrants, with or without papers, and you insult all of us Hispanics. They are not alone.”

Yep, all objectivity there. Next, let’s not forget Salinas objective Facebook post on Trump’s suits:

Now, to what Denise wrote that set off Salinas so:

Salinas’ speech was well-received until it became a little too Latino-centric for some and blatantly anti-Trump. The Univision broadcaster began specifically congratulating Latino journalism graduates for what seemed like a large chunk of her speech. She then began speaking in Spanish and asked the crowd to repeat a few inspirational words after her, in Spanish. This left non-journalism grads and non-Latinos/non-Spanish speakers feeling excluded. Parents in the audience and even students in the ceremony began demanding Salinas switch to a more inclusive tone by shouting phrases such as, “What about us?!” 

Tensions worsened as Salinas began offering advice to journalism students to use the tools of media to rebut political figures such as Donald Trump*. That’s when folks began yelling things to Salinas such as, “Get off the stage!” and “Trash!”

The lead-up to this—besides Salinas’ Latino love-fest at the expense of all other ethnicities—was Salinas’ full-throated defense of advocacy journalism. And this came on the heels of Salinas’ previous, campus-wide speech, where Salinas told the crowd while flashing a smile that Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton “are the only choices” for president,” then followed up with praise for all graduates because “you are the ones who are going to build bridges, not walls,” waiting for applause for the obvious dig at Trump’s wet dream.

The specific passage that Denise paraphrased came where Salinas warned grads that anyone getting jobs this year was in an election year, where media gets transformed into “Public Enemy #1” because people accuse the MSM of bias and politicians accuse reporters of misquoting them. But “thanks to technology,” Salinas told the crowd, “now we can prove that the candidate actually said what he or she said they didn’t say.”

Sure sounds like advice to students about rebutting candidates with technology to us! And which presidential candidate and his followers hate the media more than anyone else? By the time Salinas dropped Trump’s name in her next sentence, mentioning that people are blaming the media for his creation, Salinas didn’t have to say “Donald, eres un pendejo” for everyone to know her real feelings or her intent with her words. 

Here’s the video, via the broadcast of The Young Turks:

What’s most perplexing about all this is why Salinas is so angry at Denise for doing her job. The hate that Salinas received from Titans is insulting and immature; the nastiness she’s receiving from Know Nothings nationwide is a testament to our times. Yet instead of taking the high road and taking the insults in stride, or bashing her critics, she’s going to target the writer who reported all this?

Here’s my personal interpretation of the Univisión anchor’s actions: Maria Elena Salinas expected a hero’s welcome at Cal State Fullerton because she’s Maria Elena Salinas. Her hubris was such that she thought she could get away with a Latino-centric speech, and got annoyed that she couldn’t. She didn’t think the humiliation would become public, and didn’t appreciate a young Latina reporter doing her job writing about what was said and the aftermath. 

And here are the facts: Maria Elena Salinas betrays cowardice by pretending to be objective when she was actually caught pandering. Way to school a cub by quoting direct messages sent in private. That, alone, Maria, should show the world your true integrity. And shame on Cal State Fullerton’s Latino Communications Initiative for not standing by one of their own—could it be because Univisión is a major sponsor of them? Pathetic.

P.S., Maria: Tom Leykis says what’s good—yes, Cerritos!

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