Accuracy in Media

Efforts by the mainstream media to rehabilitate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D.-Mass.) and her false claim to be of Cherokee Indian heritage intensified in recent days after Warren’s remarks to a Native American group in Washington, D.C.

Slate took the latest crack at it with a piece headlined, “Elizabeth Warren Addresses (but Doesn’t Apologize for) Contested Claims of Native Ancestry in Surprise Speech.”

“Donald Trump’s inappropriate habit of referring to Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren as ‘Pocahontas’ is a reference to the allegation, first raised during her 2012 Senate campaign, that Warren attested to a Native American heritage that doesn’t exist in order to advance herself through affirmative action,” the story begins.

It’s not that Warren has admitted she is not a Cherokee, as she claimed to gain entrance to minority organizations on various campuses and indicated in her applications for employment at Harvard and Penn.

The Slate article claims there is “no evidence” that Warren “ever asked for or received any ethnicity-based preference in an admissions or hiring process.”

But it links to a Washington Post story from 2012 when she was running against Scott Brown in the Massachusetts Senate race, during which said she probably checked the boxes on her employment applications, but it probably didn’t help her because “she [already] had some notable accomplishments going for her” such as “groundbreaking research” into how the nation’s bankruptcy code was affecting average families.

Warren said this week she is Cherokee on her mother’s side of the family, and that she contributed recipes to a cookbook called “Pow Wow Chow” published in 1984 by the Five Civilized Tribes Museum in Muskogee, Okla. Her entries are signed “Elizabeth Warren – Cherokee.”

She only knows this through family lore and can’t explain why extensive research has failed to establish a connection between Warren and the Cherokee tribe. Her siblings say they heard similar stories; her cousins say they know nothing of these claims to Native American heritage.

The Slate story quotes Warren attempting to massage the issue.

“I get why some people think there’s hay to be made here,” she said. “You won’t find my family members on any rolls, and I’m not enrolled in a tribe. And I want to make something clear. I respect that distinction. I understand that tribal membership is determined by tribes – and only by tribes.”

Slate also provides a link to a 2015 piece it produced about “why so many Americans believe, with no proof, that they have ‘Cherokee blood.’” The piece said about 800,000 Americans claim to have Cherokee blood and that most of them may be telling the truth.

As Europeans settled America, they found Cherokees to be among the most hospitable of all the tribes, the piece argues. Cherokees were willing to marry Europeans in numbers not seen by the other tribes. “Cherokees viewed intermarriage as both a diplomatic tool and as a means of incorporating Europeans into the reciprocal bonds of kinship,” the story explained.

The story’s subtitle says it all: “The history of a myth.”

Slate appears to be trying to deal honestly with the issue. But in its first line, it says it is inappropriate for Trump to point out Warren misrepresented her heritage for career gain.

It used links that did not back up the statements they were asserted to back up. And it offered all kinds of reasons why all this occurred.

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