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Univision anchor criticized for speaking Spanish and discussing Trump in Cal State Fullerton address

Univision anchor criticized for speaking Spanish and discussing Trump in Cal State Fullerton address
Cal State Fullerton officials deemed Univision anchor Maria Elena Salinas' commencement speech appropriate. (Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)

Univision anchor Maria Elena Salinas did not think she would incite any controversy when she delivered a small part of her commencement address at Cal State Fullerton in Spanish, or when she discussed the media’s role in covering presidential candidate Donald Trump.

But Salinas was briefly heckled during her remarks at the graduation ceremony for Fullerton communications students when she asked if she could say a few words in Spanish — someone in the crowd yelled “No!” — and then again before she took a selfie with the crowd, according to a video by obtained by the Washington Post.

Salinas also drew shouts when she touched on how the media is perceived: “They blame us so much for so many things that now they’re even blaming us, the media, for creating Donald Trump.”

https://twitter.com/eRtwngr/status/735220701947416580

Monse Rodriguez, who attended the ceremony and graduated that day, said she didn’t think Salinas was advocating or criticizing Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, although she acknowledged that some in the crowd seemed tense when Salinas brought him up.

But Rodriguez said she thought the remarks were practical.

“She didn’t say you should or should not vote for Donald Trump,” Rodriguez said. “She was saying to do your job as a journalist.”

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(Video via Washington Post)

Trump famously sparred with Univision after he called Mexicans “drug dealers” and “rapists.” Jorge Ramos, one of Salinas’ colleagues, was escorted from an Iowa press conference after he challenged Trump about his remarks.

Cal State Fullerton officials said they were aware of concerns but felt that Salinas’ speech was appropriate.

“The university’s inclusive environment demands that an array of viewpoints be voiced and, in addition, that the resulting discourse is honored and supported," said Jeff Cook, the university’s chief communications officer.

Salinas said she heard some shouting from the crowd during her remarks but couldn’t hear the exact words. She said she was surprised when she checked her phone later and saw many insult-filled tweets telling her to speak English.

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Salinas said she was especially surprised by the reaction because she delivered a similar commencement speech at American University in Washington, D.C., earlier this month, including remarks about Trump, and did not experience any backlash.

“There are some pretty nasty words and some pretty nasty comments,” she said. The speech’s aftermath has “degenerated into something that shows the division in this country.”

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jason.song@latimes.com

@byjsong

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