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Woman misidentified as reporter who praised Harris calls incident a 'misunderstanding'

Woman misidentified as reporter who praised Harris calls incident a 'misunderstanding'
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A woman who was misidentified as a reporter and heaped praise on Vice President Harris during a Tuesday press conference in Mexico City pushed back on calls to apologize, calling the incident a "misunderstanding."

Maria Fernanda Reyes, the woman in question, told Univision's Maria Antonieta Collins during an interview Wednesday morning that she was invited to attend a meeting with Harris prior to the press conference.

Reyes was called on during the press conference by her given name, "Maria Fernanda," and identified by a moderator as a Univision reporter. The press conference was organized at the end of Harris's first foreign trip.

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"What I think is this was a misunderstanding that was neither my fault nor the fault of the journalists. If any damage was done to the network or to its journalists I offer them an apology," Reyes said on Univision's morning news show, "Despierta América."

"But it's necessary to clarify that the reason why Univision was there was because they were interviewing me for something else," she added.

Reyes said she had shown Univision reporters into the building, identifying herself to Harris's staff as a member of the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative (SLEI) and the Women's Economic Forum.

The woman said she told White House staff she did not want access to the press conference, but was roped in with the Univision team after a minor accident involving a falling camera. "I didn't say 'Univision,' the ones who said 'Univision' were from [Harris's] team," Reyes asserted.

A White House official on Wednesday pushed back against Reyes's claims, saying she "misrepresented herself to both Univision and to the Vice President’s staff. She misrepresented herself to the Vice President’s staff as part of Univision’s crew, which was properly credentialed for the event."

The official added that Reyes "underwent the same level of security screening and was never a security threat to the VP."

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The incident came as Harris wrapped up her first foreign trip since taking office, which was overshadowed by questions about why she had not visited the U.S.-Mexico border and the vice president's remarks urging would-be asylum seekers from Guatemala "do not come, do not come."

Harris met with domestic leaders on the issue of migration during her two-day visit to Mexico and Guatemala.

Despite not being associated with Univision, Reyes did not correct her affiliation at the time and prefaced her question to Harris with praise for the vice president and an admittance of having voted for her in 2020.

"Thank you, Madam Vice President, for me it’s an honor because I actually got to vote for the first time as a naturalized citizen and I voted for you,” the woman told Harris, who thanked her, before asking a question.

The incident raised eyebrows and set off a search for the mystery Univision reporter. 

Univision News president Daniel Coronell later responded to video of the incident on Tuesday, saying the woman was not affiliated with the Spanish-language network.

"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," Coronell wrote.