The Globe has today’s big story on the apparently never-ending saga of Elizabeth Warren’s heritage.
Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren acknowledged for the first time late Wednesday night that she told Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania that she was Native American, but she continued to insist that race played no role in her recruitment.
“At some point after I was hired by them, I . . . provided that information to the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard,” she said in a statement issued by her campaign. “My Native American heritage is part of who I am, I’m proud of it and I have been open about it.” …
Asked how the issue first came up or how she first reported herself as a minority, she said, “But that’s what I’m trying to say – there was no, there is no reporting for this. It came up in lunch conversation once with faculty, after the fact.”
So, OK. I mean, obviously someone had informed Harvard of Warren’s claim to being Native American at some point, since it’s been well known for weeks that Harvard began publicly touting that fact in 1996, a year after she got tenure there. And it certainly stands to reason that the person most likely to have done so is Warren herself. Now we know that’s the case.
I continue to find it almost inconceivable that, if the Harvard administration knew of Warren’s claim to Native American heritage, that fact would not have been loudly proclaimed at the time she became a tenured faculty member. And, as I’ve shown, there is absolutely no evidence that that happened. Indeed, today’s Globe story agrees with that:
Two key people who recruited her to Harvard have said they did not know of her purported heritage or take it into account when hiring her. The school did not promote her as a Native American when she was hired, despite the fact that it was under intense pressure to diversify its faculty with more minorities.
However, today’s story does pose a bit of a head-scratcher:
[T]he university’s law school began reporting a Native American female professor in federal statistics for the 1992-93 school year, the first year Warren worked at Harvard, as a visiting professor…. The Harvard records do not list a Native American during the years Warren returned to her post at the University of Pennsylvania, but begin to list one in 1995-96, when she returned to Cambridge as a tenured professor.
That certainly suggests that someone at Harvard was aware of Warren’s claim to Native American heritage in 1993, well before Warren was tenured. And Charles Fried, the Republican former Solicitor General who was heavily involved in recruiting Warren to Harvard, acknowledged the peculiarity.
Professor Charles Fried, who sat on the committee that recruited Warren, reiterated to the Globe on Wednesday that he was unaware of Warren’s minority status when she was hired. He said that the committee never discussed it and that he does not consult the legal directory in which Warren had listed herself as a minority.
However, Fried acknowledged Wednesday to the Globe, it seemed strange that the issue of her heritage would not come up during the hiring process since she was recruited in the early 1990s, when the school was under intense pressure to diversify its faculty.
Fried added that he learned of Warren’s purported heritage only later, when he visited her home during a party and asked her about a family picture.
Now, large universities like Harvard are intensely bureaucratic places. So it is certainly possible that the right hand simply did not know what the left hand was doing. The folks responsible for reporting federally-mandated diversity statistics to the Department of Labor are assuredly not the same people responsible for making hiring decisions at the law school, and they may well have been ships passing in the night on this issue. And there’s still the weirdness of Harvard’s saying nothing publicly about Warren’s heritage when they hired her in 1995.
And yet, new details like these leave room for continued doubts about whether there aren’t further details yet to emerge about this. One has a hard time disagreeing with the assessment of the slightly-left-leaning folks at WaPo’s The Fix:
Again, Warren has approached this controversy in all the wrong ways, giving confusing and inconsistent answers that only served to draw out the story. While numerous officials have come forward to affirm that Warren’s ancestry was irrelevant in her hiring, her inability (until now) to explain why she was listed as a minority at all has made her appear to be less than forthright about her past.
Or, more concisely, as The Fix opined on Twitter:
Is it possible that Elizabeth Warren could have handled this Native American thing worse? Answer: No.
One final observation: today’s Globe article is pretty substantial new information on this ongoing story, yet as of now, there is absolutely no mention of it at the Herald. Amazing, really – an important development in a story that the Herald itself broke, and the Herald won’t cover it because it showed up in the other paper. Pathetic, no?
UPDATE: Here is the text of a statement released by the Warren campaign (email, no link):
When I was a little girl, I learned about my family’s heritage the same way everyone else does — from my parents and grandparents.
My mother, grandmother, and aunts were open about my family’s Native American heritage, and I never had any reason to doubt them. What kid asks their grandparents for legal documentation to go along with their family stories? What kid asks their mother for proof in how she describes herself?
My heritage is a part of who I am — and I am proud of it.
But that’s not good enough for Scott Brown and the Republican Party. For several weeks now, they have orchestrated an attack against my family, my job qualifications, and my character. Earlier today, Scott Brown even questioned the honesty of my parents — even though they are not fair game and are not here to defend themselves.
Scott Brown wants me to give up my family and forget where I came from. I’m not doing that — not for politics and not for anything else. I’ll hold on to every memory I can. My family is part of who I am, and they will be part of who I am until I die.
Despite evidence to the contrary, Scott Brown also claims I got special breaks because of my background. That’s not true, and I need your help to fight back:
- The people involved in recruiting and hiring me for my teaching jobs, including Harvard professor Charles Fried — the solicitor-general under Ronald Reagan and a Scott Brown voter in 2010 — have said unequivocally they were not aware of my heritage and that it played no role in my hiring.
- I did not benefit from my heritage when applying to college or law school, and documents reporters have examined prove it.
- I let people know about my Native American heritage in a national directory of law school personnel. At some point after they hired me, I also provided that information to the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard.
I decided to run for the U.S. Senate because the middle class in this country has been hacked at and hammered at and because Washington doesn’t get it.
Scott Brown has a very different vision about who we are as a people, and he votes to make sure the levers of power in Washington continue to work for the big, the powerful and the wealthy.
If everyone in Massachusetts knew where Scott Brown stands on the important issues, voters wouldn’t give him a second term in the U.S. Senate. You know that, I know that, and he knows that, too.
That’s why he has worked so hard to make this campaign about anything else — even my heritage. It’s why his campaign spends so little time on what Massachusetts voters are really concerned about.
On Election Day, we will prevail because our vision is clearer and our ideas are stronger. We are focused on the issues important to middle class families, and our grassroots team will make sure everyone knows about those issues. I need your help to keep fighting the smears, spread the truth, and help us organize to win.
Thank you for being a part of this,