NBC Reporter Defends Warren: ‘She Understood She Was Native American’

Appearing on Tuesday’s Megyn Kelly Today, NBC News reporter Morgan Radford attempted to defend Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren’s dubious claim of Native American heritage by arguing that the liberal lawmaker “understood” it to be true. Meanwhile, anchor Megyn Kelly blasted Warren for using the claims of minority status to advance her academic career.

While all three broadcast networks noted the “controversy” and “backlash” sparked by Warren commissioning a DNA test to try to prove Native American ancestry, some in the liberal media still looked for ways to excuse the potential 2020 Democratic candidate’s major gaffe. Radford was one of those apologists, seeming to use her own African American heritage as a way to explain away Warren’s racial misrepresentation:   

 

 

I’m of a different mind. And partly because a lot of black and brown people in this country do not have the data to prove where they come from. Partly, that’s because of slave records that weren’t dated. But secondly, because of miscegenation law. So the concept of quantifying culture, that is a white and majority concept. A lot of us had to rely, as a black person of mixed race, on oral tradition to know where we were from. So she’s not saying, “I used this.”

Kelly countered: “She’s not saying she used it, but she did.” Radford argued: “But acknowledging who you are isn’t using who you are.” Kelly pushed back: “It is when you are touted as the first Native American professor at Harvard Law School and you’re not Native American.” Radford proclaimed: “She understood she was Native American.”

Kelly wasn’t buying it:

That’s not good enough. It’s like, we ripped on a woman not long ago, a young high school girl, for wearing a prom dress that was kimono style, saying she was guilty of culture appropriation. That is what people on the left told us, “You’re not allowed to appropriate anybody’s dress or cultures”....Elizabeth Warren is out there representing that she’s got a heritage that, at best, is probably similar to most Americans in this country, none of whom checked the box.

Minutes later, Radford again tried to suggest that any criticism of Warren was somehow racist: “I’m fundamentally uncomfortable. And why do you get to dictate who or what I am? I don’t want someone putting a pencil in my hair to see if it stays to find out if I’m really black.”

Turning the subject back to Warren being dishonest about her heritage, Kelly declared: “No one would be making an issue out of this if she hadn’t claimed it, as an academic, to advance her own career. And allowed Harvard Law School to tout her as the first Native American professor when she was not. As a person of color, when she was not.”

Wrapping up the panel discussion, Kelly described Warren’s credibility problem: “...if she is not a truthful person, it matters. I mean, we rip on Trump a lot for the spin he offers....It’s fair game for her, too.”

Here are excerpts of the October 16 discussion:

9:04 AM ET

(...)

JACOB SOBOROFF: I do think, though, that the President got caught in a pickle there. Do you think that the President owes Elizabeth Warren a million dollars to her favorite charity?

MEGYN KELLY: No, I don’t think he does. I don’t think he does, because you know why? If you look back – I mean, this is all academic – but if you look back and say – and look what he said, he said, “I’ll make the donation if prove that you’re an Indian,” that’s to quote him.

SOBOROFF: He’s just trying to weasel his way out of it.

KELLY: Did Elizabeth Warren just prove that she’s an Indian? Did she?

MORGAN RADFORD: It would be Native American, for the President.

KELLY: Correct.

RADFORD: Secondly, I’m of a different mind. And partly because a lot of black and brown people in this country do not have the data to prove where they come from. Partly, that’s because of slave records that weren’t dated. But secondly, because of miscegenation law. So the concept of quantifying culture, that is a white and majority concept. A lot of us had to rely, as a black person of mixed race, on oral tradition to know where we were from. So she’s not saying, “I used this.” Acknowledging –  

KELLY: She’s not saying she used it, but she did.

RADFORD: But acknowledging who you are isn’t using who you are.

KELLY: It is when you are touted as the first Native American professor at Harvard Law School and you’re not Native American.

RADFORD: She understood she was Native American.

KELLY: That’s not good enough. It’s like, we ripped on a woman not long ago, a young high school girl, for wearing a prom dress that was kimono style, saying she was guilty of culture appropriation. That is what people on the left told us, “You’re not allowed to appropriate anybody’s dress or cultures.”

RADFORD: Was that her culture?

KELLY: Native American – Elizabeth Warren is out there representing that she’s got a heritage that, at best, is probably similar to most Americans in this country, none of whom checked the box.

MATT ISEMAN [CO-HOST, AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR]: The two things that are interesting to me is, one, this is proof, again once, of Trump being able to dictate the news cycle. He speaks, other people jump in response. And like you [Soboroff] said, rather than talking about issues, Elizabeth Warren is trying to dispel these claims. And for better or worse, this doesn’t seem to be coming out, at least not a slam dunk, in her favor. I agree with you [Radford], I don’t like the papers –

KELLY: Oh, it’s not even close to a slam dunk. She scored on herself, she scored a goal against herself.

(...)

9:07 AM ET

ISEMAN: What I really don’t like, though, is the idea of we’re going backwards to the idea of where people need papers, now, to prove your origins.

RADFORD: I don’t like that.

ISEMAN: And I totally agree with you [Radford]. I don’t like that at all.

RADFORD: I’m fundamentally uncomfortable. And why do you get to dictate who or what I am? I don’t want someone putting a pencil in my hair to see if it stays to find out if I’m really black.

KELLY: No one would be making an issue out of this if she hadn’t claimed it, as an academic, to advance her own career. And allowed Harvard Law School to tout her as the first Native American professor when she was not. As a person of color, when she was not.

(...)

9:08 AM ET

SOBOROFF: Honestly, I just feel like we are tuning out to the issues that people really care about.

KELLY: Totally, it’s a self-inflicted wound.

SOBOROFF: That’s exactly right.

RADFORD: But the President has made this an issue, right? He’s tweeting about it this morning at 8:10 a.m.

SOBOROFF: And we’re playing into it, and we’re playing into it.

KELLY: But he is not the first to call attention to this problem of Elizabeth Warren. When she ran for Senate, it became a problem. And that’s why she touts, saying, “When I ran for – in the Senate, I never identified myself as a Native American.” That’s because it had already become an issue. She had already been hit by this, with this, when she was running. The President’s made the most of it because she slams him, she gives just as good as she gets. And so, the two of them are going at it. But here’s my question to you.

SOBOROFF: Yeah.

KELLY: If this – if she were a Republican, you want to tell me that these same Democrats who are defending her now and saying, “You don’t get to ask, she’s allowed to claim it because it’s, you know, great, great, great, great, great, great grand” –  you don’t think’d be a different reaction?

SOBOROFF: Again, I just think the issues that both the Republicans and the Democrats choose to focus on at the national level are so unbelievably disconnected. I guarantee you, it’s not an issue that anybody in this audience wants to talk about. If you asked, “First things first, what matters to you guys most?” Nobody would say Elizabeth Warren’s Native American heritage. [Applause]

KELLY: But if she’s – if she is not a truthful person, it matters. I mean, we rip on Trump a lot for the spin he offers, if I’m going to be charitable to Trump. Listen, he doesn’t always tell the truth, that’s just a fact. It’s fair game for her, too. It’s fair game for her, too. And what is the history? Originally, when she got questioned on this, she cited her high cheekbones as evidence. That was her evidence that it was okay for her to represent herself as a Native American at Harvard and UPenn, both. Two academic institutions who were touting her heritage.

(...)

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