<video type="youtube" id="5cAbQWx0MIg" width="300" height="250" desc="Fox News speculates that Ellie Light was manufactured by an entity similar to ACORN." frame="true" position="right"/> In late January, 2010 several emailed “letters to the editor” began to appear in major cities newspapers. These emails, always signed with the enigmatic name “Ellie Light,” supported President Barack Obama’s administration, admonished moderate Democrats who were skeptical of Obama, and blamed Republicans for all of the world’s woes. Curiously, all of these emails seemed to have originated near to the newspaper they appeared in.
Bleeding heart liberals rejoiced at the content of these emails. Was this some new grass-roots movement that would save Obama’s flagging public image? Nobody could say, but a young reporter, Sabrina Eaton of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, felt compelled to find out just who Ellie Light was. What she discovered surprised us all.
—The invisible Ellie Light
An “Astroturf campaign” is a term referring to a political subterfuge or propaganda planned out and put into use by an organization. This subterfuge is meant to create the impression of being hip and popular but really masks the hidden intent of those who created it. Folks see the Astroturf and think it is grass, something green and wholesome, just like a grass-roots movement founded by common citizens and rooted deep within the community conscience. However the grass is really synthetic plastic and the campaign only a tool used to sway public perception.
Scrambling for Answers
When it was discovered that over 65 major metropolitan newspapers had received emails from Ellie Light, pundits and lawmakers began to take notice. These letters all used the same language and contained nearly identical ideas, but they all were signed by an Ellie Light from some different part of the country. For example, an Ellie Light email sent to the editor of the San Francisco Chronical would be signed “Ellie Light of Northern California,” whereas a letter to the editor of the Denver Post would be signed “Ellie Light of Boulder.”
Republicans smelled something rotten in Washington other than themselves. Journalists scrambled to find out just who this Ellie Light person was, but the person or group had hidden their tracks well and investigators were stumped. Some speculated that the emails originated from the White House staff, noting that David Axelrod, Obama’s chief of staff was fully capable of engineering a stunt like this.
Democrats viciously attacked back, stating that the emails were so obviously a Republican plant, nobody could be stupid enough to believe that they could come from the White House or some politically motivated group.
What was certain was that a blame game was going on and nobody had any real answers. At one point, right wing pundits such as Sean Hannity speculated that Michelle Obama herself wrote the infernal letters.
Sabrina Eaton, a reporter for the Cleveland Plain Dealer who covers events in Washington DC, remembered that she had an old acquaintance named Ellie Light. She sent this Ellie person an email but received no response. Finally, being inquisitive by nature, she plugged the full name of the emails author into Google and was shocked to discover that there were several “letters to the editor” from all over the country and all signed by “Ellie Light.” What she did next is what any self respecting journalist would do: she wrote an article about the phenomena.
<video type="youtube" id="eTjTvF_cEqo" width="300" height="250" desc="Sabrina Eaton tells the full story." frame="true" position="right"/> Sabrina’s article noted that all of the letters had similar diction and writing style and also carried the same message. She was intrigued by this, but at the same time she questioned how newspapers verify the information they print. Because of this, many people noted that just about anybody, using the right tools, could say just about anything on the internet…and get away with it. it was at that point that the political name/blame finger-pointing game began.
At this writing, nobody really knows how the letters were sent. But readers of Encyclopedia Dramatica are well versed in the use of proxies to hide their computers and ultimately their identities. Such common knowledge could have easily been gleaned from the internet and put to use by the perpetrator of the letters to the editor.
With that in mind, the writer of the emails should still be commended for eluding discovery. Some of the nation’s brightest security experts were befuddled by the source of the emails, and it finally took the real person behind the Ellie Light letters to come forward himself for the true beginnings of this massive political troll to be discovered.
Just Who Really Is Ellie Light?
After a series of phone calls and emails, a 51-year-old health care worker named Winston Steward came forward and took the responsibility for the Ellie Light emails. In a case of epic troll's remorse, he stated "I am Winston Steward and have been sending the letters from Ellie Light. I hope this ends any confusion and sets the record straight." Steward claims that he invented the persona of Light to “protect himself from criticism and possible physical attacks” and that he used fake addresses across the country to get newspapers to publish his emails. A quick check against the email address that sent the original email to the Cleveland Plain Dealer against the email address of this admission found that the person behind the confession was the true originator of the emails.
But it gets weirder.
During the process of discovery, Steward, in an attempt to further hide his identity, told news agencies that he was in fact one Barbara Brooks, but most people weren’t fooled as the voice was far too masculine to be a woman. Still, a quick check was again performed, and the real Barbara Brooks was found to be married to Steward. In fact, when she was pressed with questions, she quickly caved in and outted Steward to the national media.
—So you hoax the country and then tell everybody you are a woman...and you expect us to believe you now?
Steward’s reaction to being outted by his wife was just as senseless as the whole mess he was already in. He told reporters that he was no longer married to Brooks but she had another story:
—Wait, just who is crazy here?
However this quote and all that entails has come under scrutiny as well. Is the couple divorced? Steward still claims that they are and cites a divorce attorney's name: "Tabone Enklery," a name that doesn't sound made up at all. Needless to say, there's no attorney by that name registered with the Texas Bar Association. Furthermore, Steward has spelled the name Tabone Enklery several different ways during correspondence.
Many Emails similar to this one appeared in major market newspapers during January of 2010:
If you are a bleeding heart liberal, don't bother watching these videos. You won't hear anything they are saying and you won't believe them if you manage to actually hear the message.
- The full story. As if the full story will ever be revealed.
- She's a "He."
- DC Fish Bowl
- ‘Ellie Light’ regrets damage done to Obama
Ellie Light is part of a series on
Visit the Trolls Portal for complete coverage.
|Ellie Light is part of a series on Language & Communication|
|Featured article February 3, 2010|
American Family Association
|Ellie Light||Succeeded by|