Well, it has been about a month since Mayor Villaraigosa revealed to us his affair with Mirthala Salinas, and he still faces an onslaught of questions from the media wherever he goes. The latest happened yesterday at an event at the Port of Los Angeles, where he was to speak about Target’s cleaner burning trucks. A few weeks ago, there were media reports about how exposure to traffic pollution is harming us. Given the traffic scenario in LA and the amount of time people are stuck in it, I would rank this issue as being pretty important, but as expected, the Salinas love affair took center stage. People love to watch a train wreck, and recent surveys indicate that as many as six in ten married couples have had at least one unfaithful partner. Misery loves company, and if people are more drawn to these scandals because they are reflecting on their own infidelity issues, then expect to hear more about the Mayor and his soap opera love life. It is good for ratings– it gets people talking, but we pay less attention to the public policy issues at hand. This latest episode with the media perfectly illustrates this and is yet another reason why I wish the mayor had stopped his skirt chasing ways.
At the same press conference, Azteca America reporter Alicia Unger Kaza was pushed into a container by a plain clothes officer, as she ran into a restricted area of the Port to chase after the mayor. Here’s the video. Ok, she wasn’t supposed to be in that particular area of the Port, but there was no need for the officer to shove her as he did. And did you see his silly grin when he tries to block her off along with the rest of the reporters? No wonder people have been calling the cops pigs for years, it is almost as if he gets off by shoving that woman. This officer has been reassigned to an administrative job, while the Port police investigate his actions. We all know that there wouldn’t have been a paparazzi-like chase after the Mayor had he not been screwing around. Come on now, he’s not that magnetic.
Added the the fallout, Salinas and the KVEA news director Al Corral have both been suspended for two months without pay. KVEA’s general manager, Manuel Abud has lost his job but may be reassigned. Telemundo’s highest ranking executive was also given a formal reprimand, and two lower level employees were suspended for a week. And according to the LA Times, Telemundo isn’t addressing who knew what and when in its findings regarding this conflict of interest matter. So we will never really know whether these punishments and reprimands are appropriate. I’m disappointed that they didn’t fire Mirthala Salinas and the news director. She clearly crossed the line, and the news director allowed her to continue reporting on the mayor. Supposedly, the whole news room was aware of this affair for over a year, but they chose not to distance Mirthala Salinas from the mayor in her professional capacity. For a station that broadcasts to a largely Latino audience, I find this especially apalling in the United States. Most Latino immigrants come here in hopes of leaving behind places where impropriety and ethical questions with politicians and the media run rampant. And what does Telemundo do? They adopt a third-world code of ethics.