NAHJ president blames ‘poor decision making’ for panel fiasco

Daily Republic | San Francisco Chronicle | Maynard Institute

Ruben Navarrette says a Republican strategist got booted from a panel at the National Association for Hispanic Journalists’ annual convention because California Assembly Speaker John Perez, a Democrat, objected.

Navarrette’s article “like the ones before it and after are accurate in actions taken, but incorrectly suggest the reasons why,” NAHJ President Hugo Balta tells Poynter in an email. “In the end — I am in agreement … poor decision making was made. I assume full responsibility for that.”

Navarrette says Perez complained to NAHJ about a planned panel appearance by Hector Barajas, a Republican strategist. Perez’s spokesperson Steve Maviglio told Navarrette the speaker objected because the program “said this panel was for Latino elected officials.” The actress Eva Longoria and Maria Teresa Kumar of the group Voto Latino were both on the panel.

In Carla Marinucci’s account of the dustup in the San Francisco Chronicle, Chronicle Editorial Page Editor John Diaz says “I was at that session, and I was, if anything, struck by the Speaker’s graciousness toward Republicans.”

State Rep. Rocky Chavez, a Republican, filled in for Barajas on the panel after Perez called him.

In his email to Poynter, Balta says Navarrette “is using NAHJ (and the incident) for his own benefit,” objecting in particular to Navarrette saying on Twitter NAHJ stands for “Not Actual Honest Journalists.”

“It is clear that Navarrette is more concerned about getting traffic for his column than looking for ways to ensure incidents like these do not occur again,” Balta said.

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  • Steven Maviglio

    Ms. Longoria was the moderator for the panel; she was not on the panel. The panel is described in the conference brochure to be a discussion of “Latino politicians.” The Speaker was invited to be on such a panel, and the invitation noted he would be on the panel with former Gov. Bill Richardson and Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez. When the organizers told him they couldn’t find any Republican elected officials, he contacted Republican Assemblyman Chavez, who agreed to appear. What we’re talking about is replacing an ex-legislative staffer with an elected Republican official so that the invitation was honored. Instead of politely bowing out, Mr.