Wright's Thomas Jefferson 'Pedophilia' Assertion: Only 'Fix News' Covers It (see Update)

April 14th, 2008 6:15 PM

This morning, I noted at BizzyBlog that during a Saturday eulogy for a former appellate judge, Mr. R. Eugene Pincham, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, "former" pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ and acknowledged mentor of presidential candidate Barack Obama, characterized Fox News as "Fix News." This criticism was, of course meant to be derogatory.

I suggested (fifth item at link) that the "Fix News" name is really a good one:

I like the “Fix News” nickname, because Fox does fix and repair a lot of what Old Media misreports and distorts.

Little did I know at the time that Old Media coverage of Wright's eulogy sermonizing would become proof of that.

The audio of Wright's Saturday sermon can be downloaded at the web page containing Art Golab's coverage at the Chicago Sun-Times (see first item under "Related Stories"). At roughly the 9:30 mark of its 25-plus minutes, Wright says:

Jefferson had intelligence, but he also had babies by a 15 year-old slave girl. (I) think the judges call that pedophilia.

Apparently, Old Media, including the Sun Times's Golab, don't consider this probable slander worthy of mention. A Google News search on April 11-14 "Thomas Jefferson pedophilia" (not in quotes) at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time showed only two entries (NewsMax and Fox News).


Update: as of 7 PM, the news list has since grown, and now includes ABC News; but ABC only appears in the search because one or more commenters mentioned the pedophilia claim. That claim is not in the body of ABC's story.


So Fox is among the first to "fix," (i.e., fully cover) the story (HT Gateway Pundit):

Though Wright said nothing about Obama or the uproar itself, he alluded to the controversy while briefly back in the pulpit Saturday to deliver a eulogy for a late congregant of Trinity United Church of Christ — former appellate judge R. Eugene Pincham.

Wright, who is on sabbatical before retiring from Trinity United, said America’s mistreatment of blacks is the result of the founding fathers, who “planted slavery and white supremacy in the DNA of this republic.”

First reported by The Chicago Sun Times, Wright told mourners at the funeral that Thomas Jefferson, who partook in “pedophilia,” would also be considered unpatriotic these days because he wrote, “God would punish America for the sin of slavery.” He also quoted Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who said that the U.S. has a “congenital birth defect.”

This text from Wikipedia shows that the historical accuracy of Wright's claim is, at a minimum, very suspect (internal links and footnotes removed):

Whether Jefferson fathered children with Sally Hemings is the subject of considerable controversy. Regarding marriage between blacks and whites, Jefferson wrote that "[t]he amalgamation of whites with blacks produces a degradation to which no lover of his country, no lover of excellence in the human character, can innocently consent." In addition, Hemings was likely the half-sister of Jefferson's deceased wife Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson. The allegation that Jefferson fathered children with Hemings first gained widespread public attention in 1802, when controversial journalist James T. Callender, wrote in a Richmond newspaper, "...[Jefferson] keeps and for many years has kept, as his concubine, one of his slaves. Her name is Sally." Jefferson never responded publicly about this issue but is said to have denied it in his private correspondence.

A 1998 DNA study concluded that there was a DNA link between some of Hemings descendants and the Jefferson family, but it did not conclusively prove that Jefferson himself was their ancestor. (He belonged to the Haplogroup K2 DNA group.) Three studies were released in the early 2000s, following the publication of the DNA evidence. In 2000, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which runs Monticello, appointed a multi-disciplinary, nine-member in-house research committee of Ph.D.s and an M.D. to study the matter of the paternity of Hemings's children. The committee concluded "it is very unlikely that any Jefferson other than Thomas Jefferson was the father of [Hemings's six] children."

In 2001, the Thomas Jefferson Heritage Society commissioned a study by an independent 13-member Scholars Commission. The commission concluded that the Jefferson paternity thesis was not persuasive. On April 12, 2001, they issued a report; at 565 pages, it was far longer than the Foundation report, though many of those pages were devoted to a review of the evidence that the Thomas Jefferson Foundation study examined. The conclusion of most of the Scholars Commission was that "the Jefferson-Hemings allegation is by no means proven"; those members' individual conclusions ranged from "serious skepticism about the charge" to "a conviction that it is almost certainly false." The majority suggested the most likely alternative is that Randolph Jefferson, Thomas's younger brother, was the father of Eston.

The National Genealogical Society Quarterly then published articles reviewing the evidence from a genealogical perspective and concluded that the link between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings was valid.

Regardless of how you interpret the collective weight of the above, Wright's contention, as if beyond dispute, that Jefferson was a pedophile is a rash charge not supported by evidence that "judges" (he used the word, as seen in the audio excerpt) would accept as conclusive.

I'll leave it to readers as to why Old Media, particularly Sun-Times reporter Golab, ignored Wright's reckless rant on Jefferson. Regardless, Fox fortunately has done its part to "fix" the oversight.

If anything positive is to come of this, it may be that, thanks to the Rev. Wright, Fox News has another one-upping nickname it can consider.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.