Bill Clinton wasn't a pervert, liar and felon after all! Rather, he was part of an honorable history of venerable men molesting the help. As report co-author Ellis put it: "It is as if Clinton had called one of the most respected character witnesses in all of U.S. history to testify that the primal urge has a most distinguished presidential pedigree." Ellis claimed the new testing proved "beyond any reasonable doubt that Jefferson had a long-term sexual relationship with his mulatto slave."
As the author of the award-winning "American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson" -- and a Vietnam veteran -- Ellis spoke with some authority on the matter. He dismissed the likely protestations from "die-hard Jefferson worshippers," proclaiming the debate over. "Now we know," he said.
Unfortunately, proof of a Jefferson-Hemings liaison was as fanciful as Professor Ellis' war service. Two months after the report's "findings" had been published in every news outlet where English is spoken, there was a slight correction. One of Ellis' co-authors, pathologist Eugene Foster, admitted to the British science journal Nature that they had not proved Thomas Jefferson fathered any children by Sally Hemings. What they meant to say was "Jefferson could have fathered the slave's last child." Just like Ellis could have served in Vietnam.
The scientists had compared the DNA from descendants of Hemings' last son to the DNA of descendants of one of Jefferson's paternal uncles. The report established only that some Jefferson male had fathered a child with Hemings.
That isn't as incriminating as it might sound. There were 25 Jefferson males with the same DNA alive when Hemings conceived her last son. Seven of them were at Monticello during the relevant time period. The report's title was a lie.
This point was being screamed from the rooftops by various Jefferson scholars -- presumably the "die-hard Jefferson worshippers" ridiculed by war hero Ellis. But their protestations didn't get much farther than the rooftops. The American press wasn't interested.
Nor was the American press interested when the co-author of the study later disavowed the report's purported conclusion in Nature. Only eight newspapers even mentioned the correction, and only four admitted that the report had actually narrowed the paternity list to Jefferson ... or one of seven other Jeffersons.
Around the time that Ellis was promoting the phony Jefferson report, he pompously declared in The New York Times that "a poll of the Founders would produce a clear majority" opposing Clinton's impeachment. So now I'm wondering -- did he meet those guys in 'Nam?
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