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Questions Remain After Boston Globe Corrects Warren Story

Questions Remain After Boston Globe Corrects Warren Story

Buried in the “For the Record” section, the Boston Globe today admitted that it made a major error in one of its initial reports on Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)’s claim of Native American ancestry:

Correction: Because of a reporting error, a story in the May 1 Metro section and the accompanying headline incorrectly described the 1894 document that was purported to list Elizabeth Warren’s great-great-great grandmother as a Cherokee. The document, alluded to in a family newsletter found by the New England Historic Genealogical Society, was an application for a marriage license, not the license itself. Neither the society nor the Globe has seen the primary document, whose existence has not been proven.

The corrected story by Boston Globe staffer Noah Bierman, titled “Document ties Warren kin to Cherokees,” ran on May 1 in the Globe‘s Metro section. The text of the story read:

A record unearthed Monday shows that US Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren has a great-great-great grandmother listed in an 1894 document as a Cherokee, said a genealogist at the New England Historic and Genealogy Society.

The shred of evidence could validate her assertion that she has Native American ancestry, making her 1/32 American Indian, but may not put an end to the questions swirling around the subject…

Chris Child, a genealogist at the New England Historic and Genealogy Society, said he began digging into Warren’s family history on Thursday, when media interest emerged.

At first, he found no link between Warren’s family and Native Americans in her native Oklahoma.

But Monday afternoon, he said, he discovered a few links. Warren’s great-great-great grandmother, O.C. Sarah Smith, is listed on her son’s 1894 marriage license as a Cherokee. [emphasis added]

The Globe actually broke the story at 7:48 pm on the previous day, Monday April 30, in an article titled “Genealogist says Warren may be able to claim Cherokee heritage,” when Boston Globe staffer Noah Bierman filed a report that included exactly the text shown above. 

On May 1, the Boston Herald reported that Child said he discovered the key documents–which he described in that story as a “marriage certificate” rather than a 2006 family newsletter–at 4 PM on Monday, April 30, three hours and forty eight minutes before the Boston Globe article that “broke” the story that day:

Child — who originally could find no Native American lineage in Warren’s family when the Herald broke the story last Friday — said he uncovered a marriage certificate at 4 p.m. yesterday [April 30] after fielding calls from countless media outlets and even Warren’s own campaign.

Today’s “correction” by the Boston Globe leaves several questions about their initial reporting of New England Historic Genealogical Society genealogist Chris Child’s statements about Elizabeth Warren’s ancestry unanswered. It states that the May 1 story and the accompanying headline “incorrectly described the 1894 document that was purported to list Elizabeth Warren’s great-great-great grandmother as a Cherokee.” However, as New England Historic Genealogical Society spokesman Tom Champoux has subsequently admitted on May 9, the original source document was not an 1894 document, as the Globe’s correction today suggests. Instead, it was a 2006 family newsletter.

Emails to Chris Child at the New England Historic Genealogical Society and to Boston Globe reporter Noah Bierman questioning this morning’s corrections of the May 1 story went unreturned this morning.

Michael Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) is a Breitbart News contributor, Editor of Broadside Books’ Voices of the Tea Party e-book series, and author of Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement.

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