Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s, D-Mass., decision to release a DNA test this week and lay claim once again to Native American ancestry was an unmitigated disaster. It reflected poorly on both her judgment and her credibility.
But certain newsrooms are looking for ways to make the Massachusetts senator’s unintentionally hilarious self-own into something negative about President Trump. Because why focus on the story at hand when you can score lazy “Resistance” points?
“President Trump lashes out at Sen. Warren over DNA test results she released indicating she has Native American heritage, and he says her claims are ‘a scam and a lie’ despite her proof,” the Associated Press tweeted Tuesday morning.
The story itself added, “Trump, who belittles Warren by calling her ‘Pocahontas,’ seized on the conclusion [of the DNA test] in a series of tweets early Tuesday.” The report, which really tries too hard, ends with a line about how the president has “bucked decades of precedent” by refusing to release his tax returns.
First, can we please retire the severely worn-out “Republicans seize” cliché? Reaction pieces are fine, but not when they take away from the newsworthy story at hand.
Second, what is the Associated Press on about with this “proof” bit? Did we read different tests?
As we all reported yesterday, the DNA report shows that Warren is maybe six or 10 generations removed from having any ties to Native American ancestry, if even that. That would make her somewhere between 1/64th to 1/1,024th Native American. It’s unclear just how thin her ties are. It all depends on the ancestral roots of the senator’s great-great-great-great-grandmother, which neither the report nor Warren can say. Also, the study wasn’t even based on Native American DNA from within the United States, but on Mexican, Peruvian, and Colombian DNA. This seems like, uh, a bit of a problem.
To put it simply, the report is hardly vindication or “proof” for the senator. The kindest way of putting it is to say that it raises more questions than it answers.
For instance, was Harvard Law School, where Warren taught in the 1990s, aware that the best she can say is that she is 1/64th Cherokee Indian (maybe) when it cited her supposed ancestral background in response to the criticism it lacked minority representation? Was the Fordham Law Review aware of Warren’s very thin claims when it referred to her in 1997 as Harvard Law School's "first woman of color”?
Were either Harvard University or the University of Pennsylvania aware of her infinitesimal connection when they identified her as "Native American" on federal forms? Was Warren herself aware that she is only 1/64th Native American (maybe) when she listed herself for nearly a decade as a "minority” in the Association of American Law Schools desk book?
Lastly, how does Warren's tenuous claim to Native American heritage comport with her oft-repeated claim that her parents were forced to elope because her supposedly Cherokee mother was ostracized by her father's family?
"She was a beautiful girl who played the piano. And he was head over heels in love with her and wanted to marry her. And his family was bitterly opposed to that because she was part Native American," Warren told Fox News as recently as 2017.
Rather than address any of the damning questions, the AP chose instead to go after Trump’s reaction to Warren’s “proof” of Native American heritage.
Did we redefine the meaning of the word “proof” overnight and no one told me? That’s OK if we did. I’d just like a heads-up next time.