Ellie Light sure gets around.
In recent weeks, Light has published virtually identical “Letters to the Editor” in support of President Barack Obama in more than a dozen newspapers. Every letter claimed a different residence for Light that happened to be in the newspaper’s circulation area.
“It’s time for Americans to realize that governing is hard work, and that a president can’t just wave a magic wand and fix everything,” said a letter from alleged Philadelphian Ellie Light, that was published in the Jan. 19 edition of The Philadelphia Daily News.
A letter from Light in the Jan. 20 edition of the San Francisco Examiner concluded with an identical sentence, but with an address for Light all the way across the country in Daly City, California.
President Barack Obama has both detractors and fans. A curious number of his fans are named Ellie Light.
Variations of Light’s letter ran in Ohio’s Mansfield News Journal on Jan. 13, with Light claiming an address in Mansfield; in New Mexico’s Ruidoso News on Jan. 12, claiming an address in Three Rivers; in South Carolina’s The Sun News on Jan. 18, claiming an address in Myrtle Beach; and in the Daily News Leader of Staunton, Virginia on Jan. 15, claiming an address in Waynesboro. Her publications list includes other papers in Ohio, West Virginia, Maine, Michigan, Iowa, Pennsylvania and California, all claiming separate addresses.
Light – who e-mailed an identical missive to this reporter on Jan. 16 without listing a hometown – would not answer e-mailed questions about the address discrepancies in newspapers that ran her letter, or her identity, although she did say she wasn’t a former co-worker of this reporter’s who had a similar name.
“I do not write as a representative of any organization,” she said in an e-mail. “The letter I wrote was motivated by surprise and wonderment at the absence of any media support for our President, who won a record-breaking election by a landslide less than 18 months ago, and now, seems to be abandoned by all, supposedly for the infantile reason that he couldn’t make all of Bush’s errors disappear in one day.”
University of Missouri journalism professor Tom Rosenstiel, co-author of a textbook on journalistic values titled “The Elements of Journalism,” reacted with surprise and wonderment upon learning of Light’s widespread publication under multiple addresses.
He said newspapers might be able to avoid similar situations in the future by requesting street addresses and home telephone numbers from would-be correspondents, and verifying that those addresses and phone numbers exist.
"Just because it is inconvenient for us in the news business to find out who people are doesn’t mean it isn’t important anymore,” Rosenstiel said. “It is not OK for people to have multiple identities. This is something that people in the news business and in the business of printing “letters to the editor” need to be aware of.”
The Plain Dealer asks letter writers for a phone number for verification purposes.
Letters were titled:
Soapbox: Obama told us solutions will take time
Fixing inherited problems
America’s problems will take time to fix
No magic wand to fix everything
Happy talk vs. truth
Obama faces hard choices
President can't fix everything overnight
Obama never promised quick solutions
Obama never said he had a magic wand
President Obama said fixing our problems wouldn't be easy
Solutions take time
And so the meme is spread. Question is - who is behind this?
UPDATE: - Looks like the guys at Hillbuzz have cracked the code!
◼ Question of the Day: Who is Ellie Light?
◼ Ellie Light: Who is She and What Does She Want?
◼ Ellie Light: Obama Astroturfer? Or Very, Very, Very Energetic But Independent Letter Writer? With Houses All Over the Nation?
UPDATE(S): Ellie Jeanne Light
◼ 62 publications in 29 states and the District of Columbia, 3 national publications and a Yahoo link.
2 foreign publications.
Claims residence in Long Beach, CA; Waynesboro, VA; Hunstville, AL; Salinas, CA; Daly City, CA; San Felipe, CA; Santa Cruz, CA; Grass Valley, CA; Gustine, CA; Willits, CA; Vallejo, CA; San Lyuis Obispo, CA; Myrtle Beach, SC; Greenwich, CT; Bridgeport, CT; Barberville, FL; Gainesville, GA; - - you get the idea, complete list at the link.
The sleuths are uncovering even more.
◼ Still More Astroturfing: Gloria Elle and Jan Chen Write the Same Letter; UPDATED: Two More Pairings Found