KFI’s Eric Leonard has picked up on the story and have the e-mails as well.Â The story is being broadcast on the 3 PM news.
The Mayor denied in an interview Wednesday that he was fed specific questions and answers written out ahead of time.
E-mails obtained by KFI NEWS reveal news producers at KMEX channel 34 pre-arranged interview questions with L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s office for a regular in-studio segment called, “Villaraigosa A Su Lado” (rough translation: “Villaraigosa on your side.”).
The interview — which is presented as a spontaneous exchange between news anchors and the mayor — aired regularly before news of the mayor’s affair with KVEA reporter Mirthala Salinas became public.
“From time to time I think a number of you [reporters] will give the general thrust of a question,” Villaraigosa explained Wednesday.
But what about specific questions and answers written out ahead of time?
“No,” the mayor said.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa praises Telemundo reporter and girl friend Mirthala Salinas at a news conference in the mid-city area Monday, July 23, 2007.
Actually, Eric Leonard of KFI mentioned the FLAP first. And what is the FLAP, you ask?
ERSNews has exclusively obtained e-mails documenting that Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was receiving written questions in advance, sometimes days in advance, before television interviews that were conducted on the Univision Los Angeles based television station KMEX-TV34. The questions were then asked during on-air interviews conducted by the stations in-studio anchors for a segment known as “Villaraigosa a su lado”, which translates from Spanish as “Villaraigosa on your side”.
The so-called broadcast “interviews” were conducted regularly on Wednesdays each week in 2006 and through mid-2007.
A breach of journalistic ethics?
Even USC Journalism Professor Joe Saltzman (whose Mass Communications class at USC Flap often sat in) called the Univision conduct: “very very poor judgment.”
On Monday, the Mayor at a new conference on traffic praised his girl friend and Telemundo political reporter (even though she on numerous occasions dated politicians with whom she covered as a reporter and announced “on air” the Mayor’s divorce while she was the “other woman.”):
â€œI continue to have the utmost respect and confidence in the journalistic abilities and the high ethical standards of Mirthala Salinas,â€ the mayor said.
â€œI can tell you that I believe that if this investigation addresses all of the issues here, including the fact that she made it absolutely clear the extent of the relationship that we have, that I expect sheâ€™ll be vindicated.â€
Birds of a feather – flock together.
The questions sent to the Mayor were represented to the public as impromptu-unscripted questions. ERSNews had uncovered they were anything but that. The topics ran the gamut of issues concerning Villaraigosaâ€™s job as LAâ€™s mayor.
ERSNews has learned that the questions were provided to the Mayor in advance via a direct link. That link was the Mayorâ€™s Deputy press secretary Diana Rubio. Rubio was working directly with the Executive Producer of Univision and others at KMEX, including at the time the stationâ€™s Vice President of News. Other news staff was well aware of the communications and the intertwined relationship the station had developed with the Mayorâ€™s office. According to sources familiar with the situation, the mayorâ€™s office exerted extensive influence and sway in insuring the Mayor was not put in any light other than a favorable one, something Univision accommodated routinely.
Eric has the e-mail evidence:
Now, how will Univision respond?
And will this story affect NBC/Telemundo’s decision on Mirthala Salinas – that is due at anytime?