Who is Ellie Light?

Dateline: Tue 26 Jan 2010

Ellie Light: Dozens more sightings of Obama's most prolific letter-writing fan

By Plain Dealer staff

January 23, 2010, 3:02PM

barack-obama-lordstown-091509.jpgPresident Barack Obama has both detractors and fans. A curious number of his fans are named Ellie Light.

UPDATE: See the latest e-mail response from Ellie Light here.

On Thursday evening, The Plain Dealer's Sabrina Eaton reported on "Ellie Light," who'd had virtually identical letters to the editor published in newspapers around the country, with most of them claiming a different hometown in each paper's circulation area.

Ellie Light responded to the report in a comment, saying "There was lots to write about this week, for example Teddy Kennedy' seat falling to a Republican, or the Supreme Court's ruling allowing corporations to donate unlimited funds to causes they support. Both those events portend unimaginable consequences for democracy in this country. And Ms. Eaton, a "Washington" journalist, decides to spend a few minutes pasting snippets of letters into Google and come up with a story about a letter writer."

Since then, others have followed the trail of the Ellie Light letter. The blog Patterico's Pontifications seems to have the most comprehensive list so far. To the dozen or so originall listed, the blog adds several dozen more, including the Stamford (Conn.) Advocate and the Gainesville (Ga.) Times. The letter has even appeared overseas, including in the Bangkok Post. And now there's a Facebook fan page for her.

In most letters, Light claims a nearby hometown. But in letters published in two papers that have a broader audience -- the Washington Times and USA Today -- her address is listed as Long Beach, Calif. That's the same city used in a letter to the Daily Breeze in California.

(Monday update: One of the papers that appeared to have published the letter, the Green Bay (Wis.) Press-Gazette, posted a statement on its site. It said that the letter was actually printed in sister papers, but appear under the Press-Gazette logo online as well because of the structure of their operation. And it said, speaking for the other papers, "The editors of the [Gannett Wisconsin Media}] papers exercised due diligence to one degree or another, in most cases calling the phone number provided by the writer to confirm she was the author. However, she responded with false information and a series of different hometowns.")

Commenters have questioned the coincidence of so many papers deciding to publish this one letter out of all those they've received. However, most of the letters have appeared in smaller papers, where competition for published letters is not as high. And Politico.com's Ben Smith, who in an unusual decision had published the Ellie Light letter in ful himself, wrote at the time that her words " seemed to crystallize a point his supporters have been trying to make for a while."

Here's what Ellie Light wrote:

A year ago, if we had read in the paper that employers were hiring again, that health care legislation was proceeding without a bump, that Afghanistan suddenly became a nice place to take your kids, we would've known we were being lied to. Back then, we recognized that the problems Obama inherited as president wouldn't go away overnight.

During his campaign, Obama clearly said that an economy that took eight years to break couldn't be fixed in a year, that Afghanistan was a graveyard of empires and would not be an easy venture for us. Candidate Obama didn't feed us happy talk, which is why we elected him. He never said America could solve our health care, economic and security problems without raising the deficit. Instead, he talked of hard choices, of government taking painful and contentious first steps towards fixing problems that can't be left for another day.

Right after Obama's election, we seemed to grasp this. We understood that companies would be happy to squeeze more work out of frightened employees, and would be slow to hire more. We understood that the banks that had extorted us out of billions of dollars, were lying when they said they would share their recovery. We understood that a national consensus on health care would not come easily. Candidate Obama never claimed that his proposed solutions would work flawlessly right out of the box, and we respected him for that.

But 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 that governing is hard work, and that a president can't just wave a magic wand and fix everything.

Video: Andrew Breitbart discusses Ellie Light.


Video: Sean Hannity and Michelle Malkin discuss Ellie Light


Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Superb post.

Editors everywhere are lazy on the background checks. And then there's Fox news, which is like a letter home.


2010-01-26 07:31:53

Ms. Cynical [unverified] said:

What I don't understand is why, if s/he changed hometowns, s/he didn't change the name of the letterwriter. Then nobody would've noticed, eh?

2010-01-26 08:51:43

hendy [Member] said:

Some people believe they're helping, when they're actually sanity-challenged, and/or somewhat harmlessly psycopathic. In this case, she might be on someone's payroll. We'll find out. This kind of help, no one needs.

2010-01-26 10:38:55

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

I've been involved in campaigns Hendy, in which "admirers" have actually gone manic. And in one case, police had to be called.

Some folks are so starved for attention that they'll do or promise anything. Anything...to gain the favour of the candidate.

Hell, some folks even blog, or dig up dirt on alleged political opponents. All in an effort to deliver a carcass to the King and declare: "Look at the dragon I slayed for you!"

It's a sick endeavor, but it's done. All the damned time. Candidates have to put up a shield to kepe a distance from folks like this--if they see them.

2010-01-26 14:27:41

Cope [unverified] said:

Whatever happened to the days when you had to provide your home address and telephone number to have a letter to the editor published? The newspapers should require the same to have commenting privileges on their website articles.

2010-01-26 17:36:50

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

In my editing days, Cope, I personally performed the phone-call check.

And more than once, after that discussion, I pulled the letter.

2010-01-27 05:17:12

E. Light [unverified] said:

Just let an old lady write about her beliefs.

2010-02-02 14:21:55

Shorty Long [unverified] said:


2010-02-02 14:25:30

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

"Just let an old lady write about her beliefs."

That's ok as long as you are honest about it, which you were not by pretending to be a resident of many different places, thus representing local opinion.

I have seen Ellie's explanation for the letter, but she has never responded to pointed questions about her many residences.

2010-02-03 15:20:55

E.L. [unverified] said:

Tom: you also just got punked.


2010-02-04 15:39:14

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