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Frantic Obama supporter puts new spin on old medium

January 25, 2010 | 10:15 am

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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