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The Mayra Flores Boomlet

The Media Research Center and its "news" division heavily hyped a Latino Republican after she won a special election for a congressional seat in Texas -- but had trouble admitting that she lost the seat in the midterm elections.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 3/3/2023

Mayra Flores got excited when Republican Mayra Flores won a special election in June 2022 to fill a congressional seat in Texas, and it immediately portrayed her as the vanguard of a movement to push Latinos in a more Republican direction. Melanie Arter transcribed in a June 15 article:
Republican Mayra Flores’s win over Democrat Dan Sanchez in the special election to replace Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas), who resigned in March, spells the end of the Democrat Party [sic] in the Rio Grande Valley, Rep. August Pfluger (R-Texas) told Fox Business’ “Mornings with Maria.”

“Well, it's the beginning of the end of the Democrat Party in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas and maybe for the Hispanic population who are hard-working, many of them work in the oil and gas industry,” Pfluger said of Flores, who is the wife of a Border Patrol agent.

“Obviously they’re tired of the border and tired of the inflation, the record inflation that we see. Their families are struggling alongside other families. So Mayra Flores winning this seat, she will be a congresswoman. This was a special election,” the congressman said.

“I think what it tells you is that it tells you that the Hispanic population and that everyday working class Americans regardless of our backgrounds, race, ethnicity, are tired of Democrat lies, we are tired of an economy and a crisis that Biden has put us in, and we are tired of lack of transparency,” he said.

Craig Bannister quoted her directly the same day:

Hispanics in her Southwest Texas district want border security, financial security and the economy to take priority over immigration reform, says Republican Rep.-elect Mayra Flores, who flipped a House seat in Tuesday’s special election.

Her victory made her the first Mexican-born U.S. congresswoman and the first Republican ever to win the predominantly Hispanic district.

In an interview with Fox News, Flores said that she won, in large part, because she shares the values – God, family and community – of her Hispanic constituents:


Contrary to the narrative of Democrats and media, Hispanics actually support the Border Patrol, and don’t like the way border agents are being disrespected, Flores told Ballasy.

Arter returned for more Flores stenography in a June 20 article:

Congresswoman-Elect Mayra Flores (R-Texas) told Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures” that the Democrat Party took the people of South Texas for granted, which is why she won the special election to replace Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas).

“Well, to be honest with you South Texas has always been conservative. We're all about faith and family, and hard work. That is who we are but The Democrat party [sic] took us for granted. They felt entitled to our vote, making the same promised over and over and really not making nothing happen, and I honestly had enough,” Flores said.

“I was really fed up with the compadrismo here in South Texas, and that’s the reason why I decided to run and of course the Republican party is investing now in south Texas and that helps us significantly getting the funding out there to the entire district to be able to tell them the Republican party is fighting for their values, that Mayra Flores is fighting for their values - values that are worth fighting for,” she said.

The next day, Bannister wrote an article hyping that "Hispanic voters in southwest border states disapprove of President Joe Biden’s job performance and, nationally, the younger the Hispanic voter, the greater the disapproval, a new survey shows," adding that "The results come in the wake of last week’s special election upset victory by Mexican-born Rep.-elect Mayra Flores, who became the first Republican ever to win a U.S. House seat in her predominantly Hispanic California [sic] district."

But CNS censored the fact that Flores has far-right views and has been QAnon-curious, putting the QAnon hashtag in tweets; she also spread the conspiracy theory that the Capitol riot was caused by Antifa in since-deleted tweets. Instead, it seized upon an incident at Flores' swearing-in in order to smear Nancy Pelosi. Bannister hyped in a June 27 article:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) allegedly elbowed the young child of Rep. Mayra Flores (R-Texas) at a photo op at Flores’ swearing-in ceremony last week.

“I love this princess stood her ground, while Nancy showed her true colors,” conservative actor James Woods tweeted Sunday, posting video of the incident.

“I am so proud of my strong, beautiful daughter for not allowing this to faze her,” Rep. Flores tweeted, replying to Woods’ post. “She continued to smile and pose for the picture like a Queen. No child should be pushed to the side for a photo op. PERIOD!!” Flores added.

Flores, who won a special election earlier this month, is the first Mexican-born member of Congress and the first Republican ever to win her district’s House seat.

Bannister waited until the next day before bothering to balance the story by telling the other side of it, which he disingenuously framed as "damage control":

After video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (R-Calif.) elbowing and hip-checking the young daughter of Rep. Mayra Flores (R-Texas) went viral on Monday, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff took to Twitter to do damage control.

Deputy Chief of Staff Drew Hammill claimed that Pelosi was simply trying to make sure Flores’ little girl wasn’t hidden from the cameras during the photo op on June 21, held after the Texas congresswoman was sworn in.

Hammill criticized media that reported the incident for misrepresenting Pelosi’s purported good deed:

“It’s sad to see ‘news outlets’ that know better misrepresent the Speaker’s effort to ensure Rep. Flores’ daughters wouldn’t be hidden behind her in all of the photos of such an important moment for their family.”

However, there seems to have been no reason for Pelosi to take action to ensure Flores’ child “wouldn’t be hidden behind her,” since the viral video appears to show that the little girl wasn’t behind Pelosi, but clearly visible at her side.

Yes, CNS generated two "news" stories out of this minor incident, for the apparent sole purpose of attacking Pelosi.

Meanwhile, the Flores party at CNS continued:

As Flores faced another election bid to permanently fill her seat in the fall midterms, CNS cranked out some more stenography for her in October, in addition to including a comment from her among right-wingers praising Tulsi Gabbard for officially leaving the "Democrat Party":

Flores ultimately received the coveted victim designation in an Oct. 28 article by Bannister:

When the nation’s first Mexican-born congresswoman tried to join the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), she was told she couldn’t, because she didn’t fit its stereotype of Hispanic values and party affiliation.

On Wednesday, Townhall broke the news that the CHC had rejected Rep. Mayra Flores’ (R-Texas) request to join the caucus.

Nowhere on the “About” page of the caucus’ website does it say that membership is restricted to Democrats, though CHC Spokesman Sebastian Roa says it is required by the group’s bylaws. The caucus bylaws changed after former Republican Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo's rejection in 2017.


"I thought joining the Congressional Hispanic Caucus would be a constructive way to build bridges and work in a bipartisan manner on behalf of our constituents. I was wrong,” Flores told Townhall.

“This denial once again proves a bias towards conservative Latinas that don’t fit their narrative or ideology," Flores added.

Bannister offered no evidence that a right-winger like Flores ever expressed any previous desire to "build bridges and work in a bipartisan manner."

That, however, was the last pre-election hurrah for Flores at CNS: Flores lost the election to permanently fill that seat to a Democrat Vicente Gonzalez by more than 8 percentage points during a campaign that included Flores refusing to debate Gonzalez and a local Republican official being accused of sexual assault.

Still, CNS tried to make Flores happen. A Nov. 10 article by Lauren Shank about conservatives complaining that Republicans didn't sweep the midterms as expected included Flores rage-tweeting "The RED WAVE did not happen. Republicans and Independents stayed home. DO NOT COMPLAIN ABOUT THE RESULTS IF YOU DID NOT DO YOUR PART!" But it didn't mention that Flores lost her election. Meanwhile, Arter wrote in a Dec. 7 article:

Rep. Mayra Flores (R-Texas) told reporters at a Capitol Hill press conference on the Border Patrol suicide rates on Wednesday that Border Patrol agents feel abandoned by the Biden administration.

“I’m a wife of a Border Patrol agent, and it is an honor standing here today on behalf of all those who can't speak out for themselves - our heroes, our Border Patrol agents. Abandoned. Those are the exact words so many Border Patrol agents have talked to me about. They feel abandoned by this administration, abandoned. This shouldn't be political. This shouldn't be about Republican or Democrat,” said Flores.

Flores’ was speaking at a Capitol Hill press conference on the Border Patrol suicide rates. As of Dec. 4, 14 Border Patrol agents have committed suicide since January, which is more than any year in over a decade, CBP confirmed to The New York Post.

Arter didn't tell her readers that Flores lost her race and would be out of Congress by the end of the month, making her words somewhat meaningless.

Boosting Flores at the MRC

Similarly, CNS' parent, the Media Research Center, stopped doing "media research" and went into right-wing cheerleader mode for Flores. Curtis Houck gushed in a June 15 post:

On Tuesday night, history was made in southeast Texas as Republican Mayra Flores won a special election in Texas’s 34th Congressional District, becoming the first Mexican-born woman to be elected to Congress and did so by winning a district President Biden won by 13 points in 2020.

But not surprisingly, it fetched scant attention Wednesday morning on the English and Spanish broadcast networks with ABC’s Good Morning America (GMA) and NBC’s Today hiding from viewers this ominous sign for liberals.


Over on Univision’s ¡Despierta América!, Flores only got six seconds in a brief via Satcha Pretto: “Finally, the Texas special election gives Republicans a House seat.”

In the past, the networks certainly have covered past special elections, but, of course, they were either a D-to-R flip or because they were enamored with the Democrat.

Of course, if a Democrat had won the seat, Houck and the MRC would have censored all mention of it. Nicholas Fondacaro kept up the gushing -- and attacking anyone who wouldn't gush like him -- later in the day:

The cast of ABC’s The View was in something of a panic Wednesday after several congressional primaries revealed which Republican candidates would be squaring up against Democrats in November in what’s likely to be a massive red wave victory for the right. But the coven was in such denial that they aggressively shot down any mention of the red wave and completely ignored the historic win by Latina Republican Mayra Flores in a special election flipping a seat occupied by Democrats for over 100 years.

“I'm a conservative. I'm a Republican. And listening to Russell Fry who unseated Tom Rice, a principled conservative who voted to impeach Donald Trump,” whined guest co-host Alyssa Farah Griffin. “But here's what I would warn. The red wave is coming. Republicans are going to win the midterms short of something unforeseen that I cannot predict now.”

However, Houck and Fondacaro -- as did its CNS compadres -- were censoring the fact that Flores is much farther to the right than they would have readers believe: Flores used QAnon hashtags in posts on Facebook and Instagram, despite hollow denials that she's a conspiracy theory enthusiast. When MSNBC's Joy Reid pointed out this inconvenient fact and called her "QAnon-curious," it was up to Aidan Moorehouse to go into damage-control mode and pretend her denials were meaningful in a June 16 post:

Apparently, Reid still thinks Q is relevant — which is hilarious on its own — but what makes her claim all the more ridiculous is that the only connection between Flores and Q seems to be, according to The Texas Tribune, the use of Q-related hashtags in social media posts already containing a shotgun blast of conservative hashtags meant to generate clicks on the right, such as putting #secondamendment on an Instagram post about COVID-19.

Flores herself has said, “I’ve always been against any of that [QAnon]. I’ve never been supportive of it,” but of course, that’s just smoke and mirrors. After all, everyone knows a hashtag equals full and total endorsement (#sarcasm).

A June 18 post by Jorge Bonilla brought things back into denial-and-censorship mode, cheering that "a Univision newscast spoke glowingly of the election of a conservative" and "closed out the report on the election of a Texas Republican with 'Latino pride'. A huge shift is underway."

Bonilla returned on June 28 with a bizarro-world complaint: Flores' Democratic opponent in the general election, Vicente Gonzalez, sounded like a Republican when he pointed out that Flores is an immigrant who came the U.S. at age 6 while he"was born in South Texas, the son of a Korean war veteran." Bonilla would normally cheer such remarks, but he melted down here:

So not only does “real Texan” González attack Flores for being an immigrant, but he then tries to clean it up by saying that he was actually calling her out over her stance on immigration- which he did by coming really close to an accusation of race treason. Now, where’s the corporate Latino media on this? Because if an Anglo Republican had said that he was the “Real Texan” in a contested race against an immigrant from Burgos, Tamaulipas, Mexico, I guaran-dang-tee you that Univision and Telemundo run multiple A-block cycles on the story and would’ve led their newscasts with it on the day that Carrasquillo’s piece first ran.

“Anti-immigrant rhetoric” is their bread and butter. It’s what they do. Any rando yelling “speak English” at a Latino immigrant is virtually guaranteed three minutes on any Univision or Telemundo national newscast. Remember the outrage when Jorge Ramos got himself thrown out of candidate Donald Trump’s press conference in Iowa?


Where is the rally to Mayra Flores’ defense? Where are the outraged opinion columns and A-block segments denouncing what is clearly, by Latino corporate media standards, “anti-immigrant rhetoric”? Is she not “one of our own” due to the R next to her name and thinks unauthorized thoughts on such matters as abortion or immigration?

I renew my call to Univision and Telemundo’s national news divisions. Live by the rules you've created and call out this blatant anti-immigrant rhetoric. Or forever stand complicit.

We'd ask why Bonilla isn't living by the anti-immigrant rules created by his employer, but we already know that at the MRC, trying to own the libs takes precedence over ideological consistency. Indeed, he rehashed his complaint on Tim Graham's July 1 podcast.

In a June 30 post, Kathleen Krumhansl embraced the right-wing clickbait of Nancy Pelosi purportedly elbowing Flores' child at her swearing-in:

The national Latino networks exist to serve the Latino community first and foremost, right? Wrong. Hispanics actually come a distant second behind their corporate interests, as was confirmed with their coverage of the historic swearing in of Congresswoman Mayra Flores (R-TX) by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

During a photo op following the ceremony, a sneering Pelosi was caught on camera elbowing one of Flores’s daughters. This display got ample coverage from the mainstream media, along with Pelosi's lame excuse that she was only making sure that the little girl was not hidden from the camera.

At the Spanish-speaking newsrooms however, the on-camera humiliation of a little brown girl by the second person in line to succeed the president of the United States, was edited out from the videos as Univision, CNN En Español and Estrella TV wiped the incident from their reports while Telemundo bypassed the historic ceremony (and Nancy's wickedness) altogether. In other words, they all appeared to agree that covering for Pelosi was infinitely more important than saving face for the family of a Republican Latina.
Related articles on ConWebWatch:

The MRC's Watch-Chihuahua

The MRC's War on Jorge Ramos

Krumhansl completely ignored the fact that the truth is much more benign: Pelosi was trying to make sure the child would be visible for the cameras. But Krumhansl's seething hatred for Pelosi blinded her to anything that might make the House speaker less evil.

When the New York Times cited Flores' QAnon-curious activism to call her a "far-right Latina," Bonilla greivance-mongered in a July 7 post ranting that the Times was trying to "other" Flores:

The purpose of yesterday’s disgusting New York Times hit job on Texas congressional candidates Cassy García, Mónica de la Cruz, and Congresswoman Mayra Flores (R-TX34), titled “The Rise of the Far-Right Latina”, was to signal them as race-traitors to the rest of the Acela Media, and have that as the frame of how they are covered going forward. But such efforts are not likely to succeed.


Take notice of the things that are flagged for Times readers: adjacency to Trump (including a direct comparison to Georgia firebrand Marjorie Taylor Greene), the appeals to “God, family, country”, and policy specifics on abortion and school choice. These, in this order, are meant to represent to Times readers that the Texas Trio are well outside of the Hispanic mainstream (as imagined by the Times).


The NYT piece creates a permission structure for the rest of the Acela Media and their customers to vilify and racially disqualify the Texas Trio, in a manner reminiscent of the vile treatment of Justice Clarence Thomas since the Dobbs ruling. But such efforts are likely to fail.

Univision and Telemundo, which have far greater reach in South Texas than The New York Times, made sure to run glowing “Latina Pride” stories when Flores won her special election. Immigrant success stories usually get top billing on these networks, and to hide the historic election to Congress of a woman born in Burgos, Tamaulipas, Mexico would have constituted a grave departure from their norms.

As the election heats up, you should expect more of these pieces to run in the Acela Media and on cable. But now you know why they run.

Yes, Bonilla used the term "Acela media" three times, as if that means anything to people outside his right-wing, anti-media bubble.

The MRC's designed Times' hater, Clay Waters, cranked out his own whining piece on the Times article two days later, this time invoking his employer's hatred for the new White House press secretary:

Latina Republican Mayra Flores’ historic win in a Texas congressional district in the Rio Grande Valley was greeted by the Times not with celebration but bitterness and denial. This is the same newspaper that loves to mark such supposed ethnic milestones on the Democratic side, as shown in the nauseating tributes to Sen. Kamala Harris and Biden press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

While both Bonilla and Waters block-quoted the part of the Times article that pointed out Flores' use of QAnon hashtags, they didn't comment on them further or try to downplay it -- which would seem to be a quiet, grudging acceptance that the "far-right Latina" descriptor is, in fact, not inaccurate.

An Aug. 1 post by Mark Finkelstein tried to blame Flores' opponent, Gonzalez, for a blogger whom the campaign had paid for advertising services referring to Flores as "Miss Frijoles," huffing, "Gonzalez wasn't paying for advertising—he was paying for slurs—and the blogger delivered." He went on to complain that "Due to redistricting, the district is now considerably more favorable to Democrats than when Flores won it by three points last month."

After that, however, the only notable reference to Flores before the midterms was a Sept. 22 post by Kevin Tober highlighting an NBC News report on Hispanics allegedly shifting more Republican, quoting the reporter noting that "Republicans proudly tout Mayra Flores, a Latino Republican who recently won a Democratic-held House seat in largely Hispanic south Texas."

But when Flores lost to Gonzalez and the much-hyped "red wave" never materialized, it was Bonilla's turn to go into damage control mode. A Nov. 13 post (also in Spanish) complained the "sexist" Gonzalez went on Univision where he "spike[d] the ball with a series of baseless and bigoted statements what went unchallenged by [host] Jorge Ramos." More damage control on Flores' loss followed:

You would think that Ramos would’ve immediately called González out after talking about “hatred and racism”, whether for the publication of misogynistic statements against Flores by a blogger paid with campaign funds, or for González’ claim to be the “real Texan” in the race vis-a-vis the immigrant Flores. But you’d think wrong. Ramos did none of the things that he would’ve certainly and relentlessly done had there been an R after González’ name. Instead, he meekly wrapped up the interview. Mission accomplished.

Ramos tread very lightly with Flores throughout the campaign, but singled her out as the face of the failed red wave as soon as he had a chance. The truth, of course, is that Flores overperformed in a district that was drawn D+16, slashing that difference by half. That important fact went unmentioned. But, as we know, the truth is a rare commodity at the nation’s corporate Spanish-language networks, which studies have shown to be the largest spreader of Spanish-language disinformation.

Bonilla repeated his declaration that Flores "overperformed" in another post that day (also in Spanish) complaining that "the left and the media (pardon the redundancy) are working overtime to conflate the very real and ongoing Hispanic shift with the big 'Red Wave' that ended up not materializing beyond Florida."

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