Monday, January 25, 2010

Shedding A Little Light

The Cleveland Plain-Dealer does a little sleuthing on one of President Obama's more ardent supporters...

A well-traveled letter writer who has used dozens of different addresses to publish a pro-Obama letter-to-the-editor in at least 40 newspapers around the country in recent weeks denies allegations that she's secretly a White House official or is part of an organized propaganda campaign.

But the Internet has been buzzing about Ellie Light since The Plain Dealer posted a story Thursday to that revealed her prolific letter-writing credits in newspapers ranging from the Philadelphia Daily News (which said she lived in Philadelphia) to the San Francisco Examiner (which said she lived in Daly City, Calif.).
In comments, online readers speculated on her identity and hypothesized that she's part of an organized astroturf campaign designed to artificially boost the president's standing around the country.

Bloggers began compiling a complete list of her publication credits. A Who is Ellie Light fan page formed on Facebook and a Wikipedia page was drafted about her.

...The letters Light published throughout the country were virtually identical. Nearly all of them listed her residence in towns that are in the newspaper's circulation area, though versions of the letter published in USA Today and the Washington Times cited her residence as Long Beach, Calif.

Other papers listed her as living elsewhere in California, as well as in Ohio, Connecticut, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

"Today, the president is being attacked as if he were a salesman who promised us that our problems would wash off in the morning," said a version of Light's letter that ran in Ohio's Chillicothe Gazette, claiming a Chillicothe residence. "He never made such a promise. Its time for Americans to realize governing is hard work and that a president can't just wave a magic wand and fix everything."

...In a Sunday morning e-mail to The Plain Dealer, Light denied speculation that she's actually President Obama, his wife, Michelle, or National Security Council member Samantha Power.

"I'm flattered, and I must give the Tea Partiers credit for even knowing who [Power] is," Light's e-mail said. "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. However, as you may have noticed, my main point is that absence of support for the president.
What's hilarious is that Light's email fails to address the fundamental question of why the same letter was sent to so many publications (see the count thus far here) and claimed to be from so many different locales. Light tries to refute the idea that she's trying to deceive anyone by noting that she could have signed the letter with different names if she wanted to do so, but barring the possibility that she's a real estate mogul, she was trying to deceive people working for the local papers who printed her missives.

I have no idea if this is being orchestrated by people who work for the White House. I tend to think not, because it's incompetent, arrogant, and one would hope they have better things to do. And we all know this White House is competent, humble, and focused on important issues.

Um, yeah.

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