After a bizarre, early-presidential ploy by Democratic Senator and presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren involving a DNA test and a campaign-style video release, the headline over the New York Times story spun mightily on her behalf: “Elizabeth Warren’s DNA Results Put Trump on Defensive, but Also Raise Questions,” by Jonathan Martin on Tuesday. The eventual front-page headline on Tuesday: “With DNA Test, Warren Signals Interest in 2020.”
Warren’s claims were hit from all sides, with commentators noting that Warren at most may be 1/64 Native American (not necessarily Cherokee, as she claimed in a recipe she submitted to a cookbook, tastefully titled “Pow Wow Chow”). In fact, the DNA test suggested she could be as little as 1/1024 Native American – a detail the Times relegated to paragraph 14.
Reporter Martin tried to link Trump’s anti-Warren “Pocahontas” jibe to the tawdry “birther” issue, though in this case Trump’s mockery is based in fact, with Warren latching on to vague family lore or sheer invention to advance her academic career under the guise of an ethnic minority.
It is a racial taunt made by the president of the United States, not unlike his discredited claim that Barack Obama was not born in America.
And just as President Trump’s embrace of birtherism led to the remarkable spectacle of President Obama’s birth certificate being distributed in the White House, Mr. Trump’s unrelenting mockery of Senator Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas” -- questioning her claims about having Native American heritage -- has prompted Ms. Warren to release the results of a DNA test that she says provide proof of her ancestry.
But couldn’t Warren instead be the one making a mockery of racial heritage, by claiming Native American heritage on preposterously weak evidence?
There is “strong evidence” that Ms. Warren has Native American pedigree “6-10 generations ago,” according to a document she released Monday from Dr. Carlos Bustamante, a renowned geneticist. The error rate is less than one-in-a-thousand, he said.
Ms. Warren’s elaborate attempt to neutralize Mr. Trump’s attacks represented the surest sign yet that she intends to run for president in 2020. Not only did the Massachusetts senator release the DNA results, but she created a fact-check website that details her Native American ancestry and her Oklahoma roots. The site also includes documents that Ms. Warren says make clear her heritage “had no role whatsoever” in her advancement during her academic rise as a Harvard law professor -- as some Republicans have asserted.
That above paragraph was more strongly pro-Warren in an earlier version collected by newsdiffs.org, which read:
In releasing a DNA test, Ms. Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, was rebutting the taunts of Mr. Trump and other conservatives, who have mocked her as “Pocahontas” and claimed she used her heritage to gain an advantage when she was a law professor.
Yet even as she sought to defuse the issue, Ms. Warren was criticized on both the right and the left Monday. Conservatives mocked her for releasing a test that indicated she is anywhere between 1/64th and 1/1,024th Native American.
“Elizabeth Warren hasn’t dealt with a problem, she has highlighted it and opened up other avenues for attack,” wrote the editor of the conservative National Review, Rich Lowry, on Twitter. “For Trump, 1/1024th will be priceless material.”
And liberals, as well as conservatives, said Ms. Warren had still not adequately addressed why she changed her ethnic identity from white to Native American as a law professor in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
And Cherokee Nation, which is based in Oklahoma, also criticized Ms. Warren, saying in a statement she was “undermining tribal interests” by claiming Native American heritage....
Martin politely noted the thin scientific reed Warren is hanging her heritage on, before returning to the cruel villainy of Trump.
But by day’s end, Ms. Warren got a reminder of the sort of political foe she is up against.
Speaking to reporters in Georgia, where he was inspecting hurricane damage, Mr. Trump said he would only keep his $1 million pledge “if I can test her personally,’’ then added: “That will not be something that I enjoy doing.”
Martin skipped parts of the long saga that show Warren blatantly misrepresenting her family history, like this detail noted by New York magazine in 2016:
Warren said she was told her parents eloped because her paternal grandparents said of her mother, “No. You cannot marry her, because she is part Cherokee and part Delaware.” She also recalled her Aunt Bee lamenting many times that her father (Warren’s grandfather) “had high cheekbones, like all of the Indians do,” but she didn’t inherit them.
Another detail skipped: Reporter Maggie Haberman (then with Politico, now with the Times) on a 1997 Fordham Law Review piece describing Warren as Harvard Law School's "first woman of color.”
The Times has previously excoriated Trump’s mockery, while mostly skipping the offensiveness of a white academic leaning so hard on her “Native American” heritage.