It's hard to overstate just how spectacularly poor Elizabeth Warren's decision was to tout an analysis of her DNA results showing she was Native American — as in possibly 1/1,024th Native American.
At first glance, on Monday morning — just three weeks out from a crucial midterm election, out of absolutely nowhere — when the progressive heroine decided to go ahead with this announcement, things looked pretty good, at least from a media perspective.
From ABC News: "Elizabeth Warren reveals proof of Native American ancestry"
Asked Vox's Matthew Yglesias to his more than 400,000 followers on Twitter, "So is Trump going to pay up?"
So is Trump gonna pay up?https://t.co/ozdnGtlhJO— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) October 15, 2018
"No," flatly responded CNBC chief Washington correspondent John Harwood.
“Trump literally challenged Warren in July to do exactly what she just did," wrote CNN politics editor Eric Bradner.
Trump literally challenged Warren in July to do exactly what she just did.— Eric Bradner (@ericbradner) October 15, 2018
At a rally, he said: “I will give you a million dollars to your favorite charity, paid for by Trump, if you take the test and it shows you're an Indian. I have a feeling she will say no." https://t.co/yPGArO4cyo
It should be noted that President Trump did in fact offer the Democratic senator $1 million to take a DNA test. "I will give you a million dollars, to your favorite charity, paid for by Trump, if you take the test and it shows you’re an Indian," he said at a rally in July.
So here's a simple question — and, if possible, take the names "Trump" and "Warren" out of the equation to gain a more objective response, since both are highly polarizing: If someone shows they are 1/1,024th of anything, is that "strong evidence"? Is it proof? And if it isn't, why were many major media outlets willingly presenting it as such?
The tide on Warren's feel-good narrative began to turn by early afternoon on Monday, however, after the Boston Globe issued its second of two corrections to their original story on Warren's ancestry, citing math errors.
Boston Globe issues another correction on the Warren story: She is "between 1/64th and 1/1,024th Native American.” https://t.co/km3p4z5ycO— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) October 15, 2018
Later in the day, the Cherokee Nation delivered what appeared to be the decisive blow to Warren's claim, calling it "inappropriate" and "a mockery."
"Using a DNA test to lay claim to any connection to the Cherokee Nation or any tribal nation, even vaguely, is inappropriate and wrong," said Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. in a statement. "It makes a mockery out of DNA tests and its legitimate uses while also dishonoring legitimate tribal governments and their citizens, whose ancestors are well documented and whose heritage is proven."
And, as if conservatives and/or Trump supporters needed any more motivation to get to the polls in three weeks, prominent Democrats such as Obama 2012 campaign manager Jim Messina questioned why Warren would put the party on the defensive following the disastrous Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, which ended up being a huge momentum boost for the GOP, if polls showing huge jumps in party enthusiasm are any indication.
Argue the substance all you want, but why 22 days before a crucial election where we MUST win house and senate to save America, why did @SenWarren have to do her announcement now? Why can’t Dems ever stay focused???— Jim Messina (@Messina2012) October 15, 2018
The New York Times also jumped on board after the tide shifted, stating: "Liberals, as well as conservatives, said Ms. Warren had still not adequately addressed why she changed her ethnic identity from white to Native American as a law professor in the late 1980s and early 1990s."
Make no mistake, Democrats are worried that its sure-thing blue wave to take back the House and possibly even the Senate is about as sure as Hillary Clinton winning in a landslide in November 2016.
Per a new ABC-Washington Post poll, the blue team now somehow trails the red team by 1 point in 66 toss-up districts on the generic ballot.
Democrats have a 53-42 percent edge in the generic ballot for the House. But inside the 66 districts that are tossups, or only leaning, that lead evaporates into a 46-47 D v. R race. https://t.co/B2VelNrN5Z— Rick Klein (@rickklein) October 15, 2018
Elizabeth Warren is still considered a front-runner in what promises to be a Democratic nomination race that could go as high as 25 candidates.
But Monday's decision to go ahead with a laughable DNA test that only makes her look worse in the places that really matter — where she needs to win, meaning not Massachusetts, New York or California — was one that will follow her throughout the 2020 campaign.
Already, you can see the signs at Trump rallies: "1/1,024th."
As Fox News radio host Guy Benson told "Special Report" host Bret Baier on Monday: "This is an embarrassment, right? It’s an embarrassment for her, it’s an embarrassment for anyone in the media who try to pretend like today’s news was good news for her. ... She’s appealing, ironically, to tribal politics.”
If this is a preview of things to come in the next president election in terms of narrative and media coverage, only two words come to mind: Hot mess.
Joe Concha (@JoeConchaTV) is a media reporter for The Hill and host of "What America's Thinking."