John Prescott Ellis

John Prescott Ellis (born February 3, 1953), formerly an American journalist and media consultant, and now a partner in the venture-capital firm Sand Hills Partners. He is a nephew of President of the United States George H.W. Bush and a first cousin of President George W. Bush and the former Governor of Florida John Ellis "Jeb" Bush.

Family Background

Ellis's father was Alexander (Sandy) Ellis, an insurance executive in Boston, who studied at Yale University. His mother is Nancy Bush Ellis, a sister of former President George H. W. Bush. Ellis is married to Susan Smith Ellis, the CEO of RED.


Ellis grew up in Concord, Massachusetts and attended Milton Academy high school, he later went to Yale University. He was an Appleman Fellow at the Shorenstein Center at Harvard University.


In 1978, Ellis started working for NBC as a consultant. He then worked on his uncle George H. W. Bush's presidential campaign in 1979, and later returned to NBC, where he worked for the elections unit. In the late 1990s he took a position with Fox News Channel.

After ten years he changed his job and became a consultant and op-ed columnist for "The Boston Globe". From 2002-2004, Ellis served as A Senior Fellow at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. In recognition of his work on behalf of the Department of Defense, he was awarded the Distinguished Civilian Service Award - the US military's highest civilian honor -- by President George W. Bush in January 2005. In the last few years Ellis has worked in investment banking and is a partner in Kerr Creek Partners, and also is a conributing columnist to Real Clear Politics.

Election Night 2000

During the night of the 2000 U.S. presidential election Ellis was working as a consultant for Fox News, where he analyzed data from the Voter News Service. According to an interview that Ellis gave to Jane Mayer of "The New Yorker" magazine in 2000, he was responsible for Fox News' decisions in calling states for Gore or Bush, based on statistical results from the VNS data. Fox News had called Florida for Gore early in the evening, and was the last major network to retract their call for Gore. However, they were the first (at 2:16 am ET) to call Florida for Bush. Ellis also admitted sharing exit poll data with his cousins by phone. After the magazine interview was published, Fox News Vice President John Moody admitted that Ellis had broken rules by sharing the data and was considering disciplinary action.

Ellis provided with a copy of a letter he says he sent to the editor of the New Yorker. In the letter, Ellis says that he “did not share with [Governor Bush] any of the information that was appearing on our screens" during two afternoon phone calls. The letter says that later in the evening "as actual vote results" came in, Ellis spoke frequently with the Bushes about "what was happening” in several states. According to Ellis, other workers on the decision desk – “most of whom are registered Democrats” – were talking to the Gore campaign. Ellis says that he was ultra-scrupulous because of his relationship. "We obeyed those [rules] more strictly than any other news organization, precisely because my cousin was running for president," Ellis told USA Today. []

This controversy was picked up by, amongst others, Michael Moore in his 2004 film Fahrenheit 9/11.

External links

* [ Article on Ellis in the "Boston Phoenix"]
* [ 'One Call Too Many?' CBS-article on Ellis during Election Night ]
* [ PBS interview with Ellis]
* [,2763,399882,00.html "The Guardian" on Ellis' role in Election night 2000]

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