Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates appeared on Friday’s Good Morning America to promote a new series on genealogy and revealed to George Stephanopoulos that he might be related to Hillary Clinton. Gates told the former Democratic staffer turned journalist, "You are very likely a maternal cousin with Hillary Clinton."[Audio available here.]
Gates, who very famously was involved in an altercation with the Cambridge police in 2009, recounted how Stephanopoulos (to promote the GMA segment) submitted a swab sample for the DNA company 23andMe: "According to 23andMe, George, you most likely share an ancestor with a very prominent American woman, a person who, like your haplotype, is an intrepid traveler yourself."
Stephanopoulos, who worked in the Clinton White House in the mid-‘90s, joked, "I feel fantastic to have a cousin Hillary." Gates added, "And you know, the more I look at you, the more you look like Hillary."
The entire piece was jokey and obviously not overly serious. However, considering that the ABC host is also close friends with Democratic strategist James Carville and is reportedly in close contact with Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, this might not help separate himself from the liberal establishment.
On a side note, Stephanopoulos never mentioned the 2009 controversy involving Gates and the Cambridge police department.
A transcript of the relevant section of the segment, which aired at 8:37am EST, follows:
HENRY LOUIS GATES: According to 23andMe, George, you most likely share an ancestor with a very prominent American woman, a person who, like your haplotype, is an intrepid traveler yourself. Now, for five dollars, and we’ve been friends for a long time, five bucks, I’ll give you five bucks if you can guess who this person is?
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: An intrepid traveler. Amelia Earhart?
GATES: Okay, Amelia Earhart. Is that your best guess?
STEPHANOPOULOS: You’re going to string this out, aren’t you?
GATES: Okay. Amelia Earhart, absolutely not. I'm going to read you a statement from 23andme, by their lead geneticists, Joanna Mountain [PH]. She says, "There is one intrepid, traveling famous woman who genealogists claim also has George's haplo-group, Haplo-group X. You are very likely a maternal cousin with Hillary Clinton. [Everyone laughs.]
STEPHANOPOULOS: You’re putting me on.
GATES: And you know, the more I look at you, the more you look like Hillary.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Sorry, Secretary Clinton, I did not set this up.
GATES: Now, George, we have to stress-
STEPHANOPOULOS: Cousin Hillary, right there.
GATES: Now, George, we have to stress, it's very likely, because, as far as we know, the Secretary of State hasn't been tested. We hope she does get tested.
STEPHANOPOULOS: She may not get tested now.
GATES: According to genealogists, she ascends from a woman who lived in France the 17th century and all of the female descendants have the X Haplotype. So, 23andme says it’s a very likely match. Now, how does that make you feel, good brother?
STEPHANOPOULOS: I feel fantastic to have a cousin Hillary. Thanks very much, Skip Gates. You can see Faces of America on PBS on Wednesdays from February 10 to March 3.