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Frantic Obama supporter puts new spin on old medium

Morning-paper
Her name, we think, is Ellie Light, or maybe that's a composite. Claiming to be a local resident, Ellie has been writing letters to editors all over the world defending President Obama against his critics.

In nearly-identical letters to scores of publications, Light writes in defense of the president. Since news of her serial letter-writing campaign surfaced in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, one sleuth has tracked 70 sightings of Ellie Light letters. (She did not make the Los Angeles Times).

This one ran in Ohio's Chillicothe Gazette, a template for the others: "Today, the president is being attacked as if he were a salesman who promised us that our problems would wash off in the morning,. He never made such a promise. It's time for Americans to realize governing is hard work and that a president can't just wave a magic wand and fix everything."

Conservative bloggers are having a field day, calling Light part of an Astroturf campaign to artificially prop up the president's standing. Some think Light is actually First Lady Michelle Obama or National Security Council aide Samantha Power.

"I'm flattered, and I must give the Tea Partiers credit for even knowing who [Power] is," Light shot back in an e-mail to the Plain Dealer. "But what I want to point out is that, if I were a person trying to imply this huge groundswell of support for our beleaguered president, then I would have signed the letter with different names."

New media has also jumped on the bandwagon. A biting Who is Ellie Light fan page has formed on Facebook -- suggesting that Light is actually Obama -- and a Wikipedia page has been drafted in her honor.

As the sparring continues over what Ellie Light means, let's pause to celebrate this remarkable if overlooked aspect of the story: at a time when newspapers are in economic free-fall and the future of the industry is said to be in doubt, turns out that quaint anachronism called The Letter to the Editor still packs some punch.

Who knew?

-- Johanna Neuman

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Comments () | Archives (11)

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The Gladys Hardy of the White House, perhaps?

It may be that the Letters to the Editor may "pack some punch", but back in the day when newspapers were relevant, editors checked to see that the writer was legitimate. It was necessary to submit an address, a phone number, etc., and those were checked for legitimacy. Is that no longer the case? This seems more equivalent to internet spam. What's next for Ellie Light - Viagra ads?

You overlooked the most important aspect of the story! Editors are failing to do due dillegence in verifying that these letters are actually from readers!

You have not demonstrated any relevance of Letters to the Editor. On the contrary, you demonstrate that they are riddled with leftist garbage, manipulated to slobbering shills for Obamunism.

Much of Obama's "popularity" is due to liberal media bias and dishonest propagandists in the Democrat Party.

"Ellie Light" has been in 65 Publications in 31 states & D.C.

Well, at least we know what the Hussein's wife has been up to for the past year. ROFLMAO

You guys don't think the President has any strong supporters out there. He does, and I am one of them. Maybe just maybe I will join Ellie Light, whoever she is. I will start sending letters to the Editors in support of the President.It's so stupid of you to even fall for anyone saying that Ellie Light could be Michelle Obama. You the media have decided to jump on the bandwagon of those who act like this crisis this country faced should be sloved in one year. When it had eight to start. So to whomever this Ellie Light is, let me say this. God Bless You.

Someone please help wrestle the Democratic party away from these progressives\communists before they destroy it forever. So many of my buddies are so ashamed they voted for this fraud. We wanted him to be a moderate leader like the platform he ran on, not a Maoist.

Time to register as an independent.

Robert Lang
Hillsboro mo.

You forgot to mention that she typically lied and made up addresses to make it appear she is a local resident.

Astroturf.

Ellie Light was able to fool the editors at the snailpapers who printed her "letter" because they were asleep at their job of vetting letters to the editor. There are several people doing this now globally, getting similar letters in newspapers from the Taipei Times to the New York Times, well, the IHT, without anyone checking. Andrew Prieditis, anyone? Tim Storey, anyone? Paul Hopkins, anyone? Usually these people are rightwing wingnuts speaking up for religion and things like that, but Ellie is a leftwing faux letter writer. It's easy. You send in letters by email today, give a fake hometown near the paper's city, and nobody calls to verify. Anyone could do this. In fact, several rightwing groups have info on how to do this. Snailpapers don't care anymore about accuracy, even in letters to the editor. Vet is a three letter word no editor wants to work with anymore, it seems

Ellie Light, I applaud you. Your letter, regardless of how many papers it was in, is spot on! I will not try to speculate who you are, just keep it up and perhaps others will join you.

Jan, "... On the contrary, you demonstrate that they are riddled with leftist garbage, manipulated to slobbering shills for Obamunism." All one has to do is to change "Obamunism" to "Palinuism" or "Beckunism" or "Limbouism" or "O'Riellyuism and change "leftist" to "right-wing," and we have a true statement. These pipers pull the strings and you slobbering shills blindly follow!


Ellie White, if that's her name, faked her address, pretending to reside in the newspaper readership area, and when contacted provided a street address as well (at least according to one editor, at the Chillicothe Gazette, in Ohio).

Is this the new definition of a letter-writing campaign?

The Ellie White letter appeared in our area newspaper, and a local resident wrote a letter to the editor in response to "Ellie." So it wasn't just the editors who got punked. So did local readers, who believed she was a real person from their town or city.

Does this story matter? The NY Times, USA Today and many others thought so in 2003 when a group of soldiers in Iraq each sent the same letter highlighting overlooked success stories, written by an army public affairs officer, to 11 hometown newspapers.

Who is Ellie Light? A "star-struck girl" as she described herself in a comment on my blog, a grandmother as she claimed elsewhere, or part of a PR machine operating unethically to sway public opinion? I'd read the newspaper that broke that story.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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