AMG's Media Watch: BDN and the Strange Case of Ellie Light - Updated 1/25/10

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AMG's Media Watch: BDN and the Strange Case of Ellie Light - Updated 1/25/10

AMG’s Media Watch
by mediadog

The BDN and the strange case of Ellie Light
1/23/10

A year ago, if we had read in the paper that employers were hiring again, health care legislation was proceeding without a bump, and Afghanistan was a nice place to take your kids, we would have known we were being lied to. We recognized that the problems Barack Obama inherited 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.

[url=http://www.maineville.com/detail/135196.html]So starts a letter that appeared on Jan. 21 on the editorial page of the Bangor Daily News.[/url] It was a well-written defense of President Obama and signed by an Ellie Light of Bangor. It attracted almost 100 comments from BDN readers.

There was a major problem, however. Similar letters signed by Ellie Light appeared in many newspapers across the country. In every case the writer listed a hometown located in the paper's circulation area.

Somehow this came to the attention of Sabrina Eaton, a political reporter for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, who used Google and Nexus to track down the Ellie Light letters, many of which went to big metro dailies -- and even to The Politico, perhaps the most prestigious political website on the internet.

Apparently it was never questioned. Which should raise concern about how well newspapers monitor readers' letters. If Ellie Light is an example, the oversight process is not good. And that is disturbing indeed because it could indicate how easy papers could become victims of letter-to-the-editor scams. Especially, a cynic might argue, when editors agree with the letter's viewpoint.

Nobody at the BDN or anywhere else, for that matter, questioned it. At least not to the extent that Ms. Eaton did.

She found Ellie Light. The strange story is [url=http://www.cleveland.com/open/index.ssf/2010/01/letter_writer_claims_div... HERE.[/url]

Source
http://www.asmainegoes.com/mediawatch

==========

The Ellie Light scam spreads across the nation
by mediadog
Mon, 01/25/2010 - 11:21pm

The Ellie Light saga continues to grow -- in Maine as elsewhere across the country. Among the known victims of this spreading political scam is the Free Press, a Rockland-based weekly.

The Ellie Light letter to the Free Press (otherwise similar to those received by papers across the nation) listed the writer's hometown as -- you guessed it -- Rockland.

New additions to the list of nationally-known papers that published the now infamous Ellie Light letter are USA Today and the Washington Times. It appears that at least 65 publications in 31 states -- including the Bangor Daily News -- have published the letter, and more are being added every day.

How did this happen? Clearly too many newspapers were not following their own procedures to verify the identity of letter writers. But there may be more, much more, to this. Some, perhaps many, editors decided not to enforce letter-writing rules on Ellie Light (who remains a shadowy character) because they agreed with what she said.

Ben Smith, columnist for The Politico, the nation's best-known political website, provided evidence of this when he wrote:

"I get a lot of unsolicited e-mail and should probably publish more of it; this defense of Obama, sent in by someone named Ellie Light, seemed to crystallize a point his supporters have been trying to make for a while."

Then Smith ran the letter in its entirety.

So what's going on here? Are strict editorial rules on letters to be followed -- except in cases where the editor strongly agrees with what is said?

What is that going to do for the public's already-declining faith in journalistic principles? You decide.

http://www.asmainegoes.com/mediawatch

Tom C
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Joined: 01/03/2006 - 6:00pm
The Press Herald will not run

The Press Herald will not run one of my letters unless they PHYSICALLY TALK to me.

charlie neville
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Joined: 10/17/2005 - 6:31am
In the past I've written

In the past I've written letters to the editor of the PPH, YCCS, and the Bidd. Journal Tribune. In all cases I was contacted by phone (I included my #) prior to publication, at least for the first one. Subsequent ones were often published with out a phone call. All came from the same e-mail address.

charlie

Nortasaurus
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Joined: 11/19/2009 - 10:52am
I was just reading the

I was just reading the Cleveland article. One of Light's post said that O should not be having so much trouble with his agenda because, "he won by a landslide!" Now 53-46 is a landslide? I suppose the electoral college shows a doubling, but consider the states that O won and naturally that would be the case. It would appear(if Ellie is listening) that folks are not on the bus as he thought!

Pay heed, though, he will still try to stuff this down our throats and he has willing accomplices here in Maine, sad to say. I do not think Olympia is done yet. After all, is $50 to $80 million enough for anyone. Go to opensecrets.org, and I said I would not bring this up again, Ed. Just slides out of me.

ldwight
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Joined: 10/07/2005 - 12:01am
Just a modern day "Silence

Just a modern day "Silence Dogood"?

Watch this place for the alternative:

Recruiting volunteers and operatives in the circulation area to send the same (or similar) letter to the editor of various newspapers across the country.

Mainelion
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Joined: 08/11/2005 - 12:01am
If they had been smart enough

If they had been smart enough to use mail merge to change the name in each letter they'd have never been caught. Why are liberals so dishonest? It must be the end justifies the means mentality.

bob emrich
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Joined: 01/28/2000 - 1:01am
I am certain that the BDN

I am certain that the BDN would have carefully verified the author's residence if it had been critical of the President.

BlueJay
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Joined: 04/18/2005 - 12:01am
I am certain that the BDN

I am certain that the BDN would have carefully verified the author's residence if it had been critical of the President.

I think most of us have had phone calls to verify authorship. This whole story is interesting, and I'm wondering if there may have been phone verifications for this letter and other editorials, all working through a possible ACORN network, or some other organization. It's very possible if you think about it.

BlueJay
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Joined: 04/18/2005 - 12:01am
As a post script: i think we

As a post script: i think we all, us Americans, are often naive when it comes to duplicity.

Editor
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Joined: 04/18/2009 - 3:43pm
Editor's Note: I moved these

Editor's Note: I moved these two posts here from another thread.

Uncovering the fraud and lies of the "Ellie Light" network

Mon, 01/25/2010 - 7:58am
wv_republican

http://patterico.com/2010/01/24/still-more-astroturfing-gloria-elle-and-...

More Astroturfing: Gloria Elle and Jan Chen Write the Same Anti-Republican, Pro-Obama Letter; UPDATED: Two More Pairings Found; UPDATED AGAIN: Four Pairings Total, and One Is a Triplet!; UPDATED AGAIN with Countless Other Examples

Facinating research story about the fraud and lies of Ellie Light.

=====

"Ellie Light" responds to the Cleveland Plain Dealer about her fraud. She is asked to respond to the reason she states so many "hometowns" in her missives, but seems incapable of answering a simple question.....

http://www.cleveland.com/politics/index.ssf/2010/01/often_published_pro-...

"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.......I am not surprised that an article that tends to discredit a pro-Obama letter-writer has lots of readers. I understand that there are 10 million dittoheads that daily scour the airwaves, print and online press for something nasty to say about the president..."

http://www.cleveland.com/politics/index.ssf/2010/01/often_published_pro-...

thejohnchapman
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Joined: 03/21/2000 - 1:01am
I, personally have received

I, personally have received predrafted letters to send from both rightie and leftie organizations. Often, there are many people who will send them. I personally believe that one hundred handwritten one-liners say more than a 500 preprinted pieces of crap.

Example:

http://www.nraila.org/media/misc/lawsamp.html

Now, if fifty congresscritters each received this same letter, would that mean that there were NOT 50 progun supporters out there? Same is true on the left hand side of the aisle.

Of course, this does NOT explain the "same name" deal.

FLAMMENWERFER
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Joined: 03/27/2005 - 1:01am
Priceless "...an article

Priceless "...an article that tends to discredit a pro-Obama letter writer...", Pretending to be a down-home, local girl all over the country TENDS to bring discredit sure enough.

GW Rudmin
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Joined: 07/31/2005 - 12:01am
The inside scoop about Ellie

The inside scoop about Ellie Light in the BDN is that she lied when she was contacted by phone.

charlie neville
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Joined: 10/17/2005 - 6:31am
http://www.foxnews.com/politi
FLAMMENWERFER
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Joined: 03/27/2005 - 1:01am
A link to CHARLIE NEVILLE'S

A link to CHARLIE NEVILLE'S link "Patterico's Pontifications" shows the value of the Internet. Patterico offers a list of news outlets where Ellie has appeared---68 in all. Her "hometowns" include Bangor, Rockland, Portsmouth, and Bennington. Evidently a restless, peripatetic woman.

Tom C
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Joined: 01/03/2006 - 6:00pm
"I am Winston Steward and

"I am Winston Steward and have been sending the letters from Ellie Light," he told The Plain Dealer in an e-mail late Tuesday, following a phone interview in which he said the same. "I hope this ends any confusion and sets the record straight."

'I'm Ellie Light,' California man says: Obama letter writer talks

It's a MAN, BAY-BEE!

Too good to check!

Tom C
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Joined: 01/03/2006 - 6:00pm
UPDATE: This appears to be

UPDATE:

This appears to be Winston Steward, AKA Ellie Light.

wv_republican
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Joined: 11/23/2004 - 1:01am
I can't find the article, but

I can't find the article, but the Cleveland Plain Dealer spoke with her. She provided a cell phone number, not a land line.

Tom C
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Joined: 01/03/2006 - 6:00pm
Chaff. The MSM is burying

Chaff.

The MSM is burying the story.

Mike Travers
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Joined: 08/04/2002 - 12:01am
She needs to wax.

She needs to wax.

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