David Gregory inquired on the basis of race!

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2012

Will Maddow take him on: Last evening, David Gregory moderated the second debate between Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren.

He devoted the first eighteen minutes to the dispute, or pseudo-dispute, about Elizabeth Warren’s ancestry.

Later, on the Maddow show, Barney Frank said this about that: “I was frankly disappointed in David Gregory’s choice of topics. To spend many minutes on this non-issue of Cherokee ancestry and about a minute and a half on Afghanistan is about as bad a set of priorities as I have seen.”

Did Gregory make a bad choice of topics? We suppose it depends on the degree of interest this dispute is generating in Massachusetts.

For ourselves, we would offer a criticism of the way he explored the topic: He never asked Warren to explain the nature or degree of her Native American ancestry.

If memory serves, Warren said she does consider herself Native American. The Boston Herald quotes her this way: “I consider myself as having a Native American background...that's what I am.”

That's fine with us! But on what basis does Warren so consider herself? What's the basis of her claim to this ancestry? Gregory never tried to nail that down. Why spend eighteen minutes on this topic without asking about that? (We don’t have a transcript of last night’s event.)

Back on the Maddow show, Rachel Maddow was repeating the opaque formulation she has employed in the past few weeks. She didn’t join Frank in criticizing Gregory. Instead, she complained about Brown’s continuing conduct, using a vague turn of phrase:
MADDOW (10/1/12): Today was the second debate between Scott Brown and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren. There are two surprising things you`ll remember in the first debate. First was the vehemence with which Scott Brown attacked Elizabeth Warren on the basis of race in the first debate, saying he could tell by looking at the Oklahoma-born law professor that she wasn’t really Native American.

That was followed up by two Scott Brown TV ads attacking Elizabeth Warren on the basis of race. It was also followed by a bunch of Scott Brown staffers at a political event mocking Native Americans with fake war whoops and tomahawk chops.

Tonight, Scott Brown addressed the same controversy and kept arguing that race is relevant and a decision the voters have to make in the Massachusetts Senate race. He still did not apologize for staffers making fun of Native Americans even though the principal chief of the Cherokee tribe asked him to. And he failed to explain how he knows Elizabeth Warren is not Native American—you know, other than just by looking at her.
In that first debate, Brown made a clumsy or foolish statement when he implied that you can tell someone’s ancestry simply by visual inspection. Subsequently, his staff behaved very foolishly.

Last night, Maddow said that Brown still hasn’t apologized for his staff's conduct, although the Boston Globe reported that his spokesperson released this statement: "Senator Brown has spoken to his entire staff including the individuals involved in this unacceptable behavior and issued them their one and only warning that this type of conduct will not be tolerated.”

That said, Brown’s a pol and we critique journalists. We were struck last night to see Maddow clinging to last week’s formulation: Brown has been “attacking Warren on the basis of race.”

Actually, Brown has been saying that Warren sought professional advancement by saying she is Native American when she actually isn’t. Since that is the actual accusation, it would have made sense for Gregory to try to determine the nature and extent of Warren’s Native American ancestry, if he was going to spend all that time on the topic.

Meanwhile, Maddow seems extremely reluctant to voice the actual accusation. Instead, she offers pleasing weasel words about being “attacked on the basis of race.”

Elizabeth Warren is “being attacked on the basis of race!” That sounds like a very bad thing—but George Wallace was “attacked on the basis of race” by liberals for many years. In short, there’s nothing wrong with “being attacked on the basis of race,” depending on the nature of the conduct and the complaint.

Maddow seems unwilling to state the nature of Brown’s complaint.

For ourselves, we have no idea what the facts of this matter may be. This strikes us as a tangential matter—but then, we said the same thing about Mitt Romney’s behavior in high school.

That said, if someone makes a bogus claim of minority status to gain career advancement, that’s a ratty thing to do. We have no idea if Warren did that, but there’s nothing obviously wrong with “attacking” someone “on the basis of” that kind of conduct.

This brings us back to last week’s discussion between Maddow and Melissa Harris-Perry. Maddow kept saying, very vaguely, that Brown was “campaign[ing] against Elizabeth Warren on the basis of her race.” In turn, Harris-Perry offered one of her trademark outings, featuring extremely long-winded, pseudo-insightful, windy race bafflegab.

Eventually, we got this exchange:
MADDOW (9/24/12): You know, the way that Scott Brown is using—the way that he’s problematizing race in this case, right, the way that he is using it, is to make this argument that Elizabeth Warren might have used her Native American heritage to get ahead through affirmative action. What do you think that he’s getting at there and how connected that is to other claims about essentially stoking resentment on this issue?

HARRIS-PERRY: You know, it’s quirky, because you know, to the extent that that should be the claim, it ought to be sort of people of color would feel irritation about it, the idea that someone who is socially constructed by most people who look at her as white. And this idea that, well wait a minute, to the extent that affirmative action is in part about redressing historic wrongs based on discrimination, it should be black communities, Latinos, and indigenous peoples who would say, wait a minute, we don’t want someone who appears to have the visual image of whiteness to take advantage of things that were meant to redress historic wrongs.

So, it’s a weird kind of claim because it's like she’s so white, you should be mad that she claims that she’s brown?
Just as an aside, does Warren actually “claim that she’s brown?” To watch this whole segment, click here.

In this one instance, Maddow at least semi-explained what Brown is claiming—why he’s “problematizing race in this case.” (Is Chris Hayes writing for Maddow?) In the process, Maddow pretended that she barely understands Brown’s very puzzling charge—and Harris-Perry offered an astonishing statement about who should be upset by the conduct Brown is alleging.

Black people can complain about this! White folk, not so much!

The professor didn’t know, or chose not to say, that various Native Americans already have complained, rightly or wrongly, about Warren’s claims. (Parker and Barbaro had the story at the convention! Just click here.) But good grief! Warren may be perfectly innocent of any bad faith or bad conduct. But if someone did claim Native American heritage in bad faith as a way to get ahead, does Harris-Perry really mean what she said? That black people could criticize such an act, but white people couldn’t?

We’re so old that we can remember when the low-IQ Stalinist-leaners did lots of harm to progressive interests. People like that went away for a time. We'll guess they’re prepared to come back.

Maddow’s astonishment and David Gregory: This is part of what Maddow said last Monday:
MADDOW (9/24/12): As weird as it is to see a Senate candidate having to do a political ad explaining what their ethnic background is, how much weirder is it that that’s because all of the attacks on her in this campaign are about her race? I don’t understand why this isn`t a national scandal.

Scott Brown’s campaign against Elizabeth Warren is on the basis of her race. I find it to be astonishing that it’s not more upsetting to more people.
Last week, Maddow said she was astonished, that this should be a national scandal. Tonight, will she complain that David Gregory was attacking or challenging Warren on the basis of race?

Will she voice her astonishment tonight? Maddow’s a savvy, self-dealing player. Our advice:

Don’t be holding your breath.

30 comments:

  1. I don't get the problem here. From what I have read she never used her heritage to gain advantage. Harvard used it to show diversity at their institution

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    1. Most of us who pay attention have heard that/read that also. It's in Warren's press releases. She's also discussed her ancestry claim in detail. Bob, doubtless, has heard that as well. So why does he persist in demanding to know the basis of her claim of Native American ancestry? Is it because this piece is basically just about another jab at Maddow's "saavy self-dealing"?

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    2. The Anonymous IdiotOctober 3, 2012 at 7:52 AM

      " why does he persist in demanding to know the basis of her claim of Native American ancestry"

      Why no, that never did happen.

      But then, I *am* an idiot, you know!

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  2. Crikey, Bob. What does it matter and why waste 30 seconds discussing Elizabeth Warren's heritage?

    You know why? Because Scott Brown doesn't have anything else to hammer her with. So it becomes a big deal that even the Daily Howler demands answers to.

    Way to carry his water, Somerby.


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    1. He's got such a grudge against MSNBC hosts he's willing to help Republicans just to carry it out. G

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    2. You folks seem odd to me.

      The people on "our" side are being fatuous and deceiving "our" side. Maddow is performing a disservice to all Democrats by saying Brown is attacking Warren "on the basis of her race."

      Maddow makes Democrats stupid. Before now, we had to rely on Republicans cutting public education funding for that.

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  3. I fail to see how any water is being carried. Once again, representatives from our side are going around crying "racist" where it's not appropriate.

    Bob's right: our tribe just fucking loves it. Someone has to call it out.

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    1. By quoting the Boston Herald to support of his thesis?

      Bollocks!

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  4. bob, your lordship, darling. youve got bigger fish to fry than whether or not she has any genuine-real-american bloodlines. note some of the irish-y sounding names in her genealogy*. they may have originally been irish-catholic. . . . intermarriage rates between americans with an irish-catholic heritage and other social outcasts was relatively high. . . . so get on the ball mr. journalist, high lord defender of americans with non-irish-catholic heritage.

    * http://northshorejournal.org/LinkedImages//2012/05/Ancestors-of-Herring-Elizabeth.pdf

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    1. lowercaseguys casemanagerOctober 3, 2012 at 7:54 AM

      Yeah! It's all about the Irish Catholic Americans, like always!

      lowercaseguy -- You can't make him up!

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  5. Some people just don't get it. Bob Somerby doesn't really care if EW is part Cherokee or not.

    His focus, as always, is on the media.

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    1. Right. Bob's focus is on the "media" for not demanding Warren to prove her heritage. Not on demanding Brown to prove what has become his major mud that Warren used her heritage to any advantage.

      And I quote:

      --

      For ourselves, we have no idea what the facts of this matter may be. This strikes us as a tangential matter—but then, we said the same thing about Mitt Romney’s behavior in high school.

      That said, if someone makes a bogus claim of minority status to gain career advancement, that’s a ratty thing to do. We have no idea if Warren did that, but there’s nothing obviously wrong with “attacking” someone “on the basis of” that kind of conduct.

      --

      Sorry, but from where I come from, when you make an allegation against somebody, you had better be able to back it up with evidence. Brown doesn't have a single document, or a single person, to support his claim that Warren used her minority status to an unfair advantage. In fact, everyone involved in hiring Warren at Harvard have said, quite clearly, that they weren't even aware she was Native American, and that it never came up once in the hiring process.

      But that's not good enough for Somerby. You see, it could still be true. He ignores both the evidence and the lack thereof, and pretents he has "no idea what the facts of the matter may be."

      Well, here are the "facts of the matter." Scott Brown doesn't want to talk about real issues, so he comes up with a bogus claim that, coincidentally (?) also appeals to the worst instincts of the voters he is trying to hold -- that Warren is another undeserving "minority" who got a job over more qualified non-minority candidates merely by claiming minority status.

      If there is media criticism to be made here, it is of the failure of the media to demand that Brown prove his charges, not any failure of the media to hold Warren's feet to the fire and demand she prove she is Native American.





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    2. And re: Mitt's behavior in high school.

      The bigger story here is not what Mitt did nearly 50 years ago, but how he reacted to the story today. "I don't remember" and "I did a lot of stupid things as a kid" as tried to blow it off as typical high school hi-jinks.

      Every other living person involved in the bullying incident remembered in great detail and with great regret. It says more about Mitt that he either can't or he is not exactly telling the truth about it than Somerby, shrewd analyst that he is, either cares to admit or is unable to.

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    3. The Anonymous IdiotOctober 3, 2012 at 7:50 AM

      "failure of the media to hold Warren's feet to the fire and demand she prove she is Native American"

      Yes, yes, I am an idiot.

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    4. Yes, yes, you are an idiot.

      I quote Somerby, since you obviously missed, or don't want to admit he wrote this:

      "Actually, Brown has been saying that Warren sought professional advancement by saying she is Native American when she actually isn’t. Since that is the actual accusation, it would have made sense for Gregory to try to determine the nature and extent of Warren’s Native American ancestry, if he was going to spend all that time on the topic."

      And thank God for Barney Frank: “I was frankly disappointed in David Gregory’s choice of topics. To spend many minutes on this non-issue of Cherokee ancestry and about a minute and a half on Afghanistan is about as bad a set of priorities as I have seen.”

      Isn't this what Bob has been harping on for 13 years about the "War on Gore"? The nonsensical focus on trivia at the expense of real issues?

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    5. Oh, and since "Brown has been saying that Warren sought professional advancement by saying she is Native American when she actually isn’t" it would have made far more sense to me for Gregory "to try to determine" the factual basis for Brown's rather specific accusation, rather than "the nature and extent of Warren’s Native American ancestry."

      In other words, Somerby, the larger issue -- that a candidate gets to say anything they want, and that's OK because "we don't know the facts of the matter."

      So what "facts" do you want? Proof of Native American ancestry instead of proof that Warren ever used it for advantage in landing jobs and career advancement.

      Which is exactly where Scott Brown wants the focus.

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    6. Your quote, imbecile, doesn't show in the least that Somerby wants "the media to hold Warren's feet to the fire."

      But since you haven't got reading comprehension going in your favor, I'll explain it to you:

      "Since that is the actual accusation, it would have made sense for Gregory to try to determine the nature and extent of Warren’s Native American ancestry, if he was going to spend all that time on the topic."

      The translation of that, since you so obviously can't get it through your head, is:

      "David Gregory is a charlatan and a time-waster. He had a pretend attempt to address this issue, that actually didn't address it."

      Only an idiot such as yourself could think it means "the media should hold Warren's feet to the fire."

      (I'm being nice to you, you notice? I'm pretending you actually believe the stupid shit you post.

      A more uncharitable reading, but an accurate one no doubt, would be that you don't believe you own bullshit for a second, it's just your reflexive anti-Somerby bias coming out again. We haven't forgotten, you know, your many promises that you wouldn't bother coming around here anymore.)

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    7. Ah yes. What Bob really said was something he didn't say at all.

      Only his loyal tribe with their secret decoder rings got the message.

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    8. Nah, just people who can read. So, you're out.

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  6. BTW - I miss the old header from the original site.

    Caveat lector!

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  7. The Indians agree with Scott? Really?

    http://campaignstops.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/04/elizabeth-warrens-birther-moment/

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/30/opinion/sunday/kill-the-indians-then-copy-them.html?ref=elizabethwarren

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  8. "Did Gregory make a bad choice of topics? We suppose it depends on the degree of interest this dispute is generating in Massachusetts."

    Right, Bob. This is why the media should have hammered Gore more on the bogus "invented the internet" thing, and demanded that Kerry prove that he actually earned his medals in Vietnam.

    After all, those "disputes" generated a lot of "interest" from coast to coast -- merely because they were lodged.

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  9. So Somerby opines on the lack of a cogent analysis and rebuttal from Warren's media defenders, and it sends his liberal readers into a tizzy of accusations based upon the formulation that this piece should be about defending Warren.

    You're right, Bob. "The Children" really have grown into spoiled intellectually-blinkered little goons.

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    1. Since the simple truth has once again gone over your head again, Cecelia, allow me to walk you through it step by step.

      1. Scott Brown makes a very serious allegation that Elizabeth Warren lied about her Native American heritage.

      2. Brown further accuses Warren of using the lie to advance her career.

      3. Brown has presented no evidence to support either accusation, and the second one has been refuted by members of the Harvard committee who interviewed and hired her, who have said the issue of her heritage never came up.

      4. Somerby is not in the least bit bothered that Gregory continued waste time to advance this silliness. On the contrary "it depends on the degree of interest this dispute has in Massachusetts".

      5. Somerby believes the "nature and extent" of Warren's heritage should be "examined." In other words, it's "birther" all over again.

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    2. Again? Oh, dear...

      Of course, if you truly had any interest in the truth you'd concede that it isn't so cut-and-dried on either side, and thus ripe for examination.

      Harvard would deny that ethnicity had any bearing on Warren's hiring. Their saying otherwise might open a shipping crate full of worms. What we do know is that the powers-that-be at Harvard were aware of Warren's claim to Indian ancestry enough that they claimed her to be a minority member.

      We know too that Warren billed herself as a minority hire by filling out the requisite forms that it took in order for her to appear with the status of Native American in the ALLS Directory.


      On a gut reaction commonsensical note, there are a plethora of Americans with Native American heritage. How many of them are filling out documents that designate themselves as being minority members?

      None of this is a smoking gun, but it's certainly enough to support the more thoughtful and honest position that the matter could use more examination. You know...the position that Somerby holds....



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    3. "4. Somerby is not in the least bit bothered that Gregory continued waste time to advance this silliness."

      Actually, Somerby's phrase "if [Gregory] was going to spend all that time on the topic" sure indicates to most people who can read that he thinks it was a big waste of time.

      But you're not big on reading comprehension, so that probably went right over your head.

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  10. I thought the post was about Maddow's ambition outweighing our interests.

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  11. If there's any issue here at all it would be whether Warren knowingly lied about her ancestry and benefited from her lie. Wouldn't that be easy enough to prove? Let Scott come forward with it.

    My family lore has me as one-sixteenth Cherokee. Whether that's actually true or not,there are a lot of us who live with that belief, based only what our mamas tell us. But I never speak of myself as "Native American" or of my "Native American ancestry." The common language, when the subject comes up, is "part Indian" but we think of ourselves as white.

    To hear Maddow speak of Warren as a put-upon minority is a bit much. I doubt she thinks of herself that way.

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  12. We really still doubt that she wasn't fine with her minority status being used in, at the very least, "flattering" way that would help her career? Being around colleges much of her life she knew that have the status of a minority could only help her in her career. While I don't know if she promoted it all the time, she sure didnt complain when other people were using her claims as a minority to bolster her reputation. According to the Christian Science Monitor:

    1. She listed herself as a minority with the AALS.
    2. Harvard listed that they a Native American on staff
    3. The Crimson listed her as the first woman with a minority background to be tenured.
    4. Was also listed as a "Women of color" by the Harvard Women's Law Journal
    3. According to CSM, "Warren has not asked that Harvard release documents related to her hiring, as Brown has urged her to do. Some important details about her career advancement remain in question."

    http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Elections/Senate/2012/0926/Elizabeth-Warren-and-Cherokee-heritage-what-is-known-about-allegations/%28page%29/2

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