January 27, 2010


The Curious Tale of Obama's Biggest Defender (Michael Smerconish, 1/27/10, Daily Beast)

The tale of Ellie Light piqued my curiosity, so I asked one of my radio producers to try to find the writer and book her on my radio program. That took some work. My producer noted that Ben Smith at Politico had reported that “Ellie Light” had written her missives from a Yahoo email account. My colleague searched the Internet for “Ellie Light Yahoo” and found that Ed Morrissey at Hot Air had received communications from Light. In posting the message header he received, Morrissey included the email address from which the messages originated. My staffer sent an email to that address, seeking to invite the person behind the emails onto the program.

Soon thereafter, that person responded, accepted the invitation, and offered a phone number at which to reach her. A search of WhitePages.com found that the number was an unpublished landline number originating from Lakewood, California. When the person claiming to be Light called in the next day, however, she did so from a different phone number, though one with the same area code as the one provided the night before.

In my Tuesday morning interview, Light both defended the president and acknowledged being dishonest about her primary residence: “I think it’s fair to say that when commenting on national issues, it’s perfectly fine to be from other parts of the United States, even when writing to a local newspaper. However, I think I need to own up that I did misrepresent my location in some of those places.”

When I asked Light how often newspapers would call to verify her identity, she told me: “Most times, and most often I misrepresented my primary residence.”

That wasn’t all “Ellie Light” misrepresented. Just after my interview concluded, the Plain Dealer published a report online identifying Light as a traveling nurse named Barbara Brooks. But wait—later that day, another woman claiming to be Barbara Brooks called the newspaper to deny that she was Ellie Light. She asserted that a “male acquaintance” was actually the elusive letter writer. Eventually the Plain Dealer conducted conversations with two people claiming to be Barbara Brooks. Coinciding with this reportage was Internet speculation that I had interviewed a man, not a woman, and that neither I nor my audience knew the difference.

Then yes another twist. Tuesday night, “Ellie Light” contacted my producer and acknowledged that “she” is actually Winston Steward, ex-husband of Barbara Brooks.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 27, 2010 7:18 AM
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