Exclusive: ‘Ellie Light’ regrets damage done to Obama, blasts right-wing ‘conspiracy theorists’
WASHINGTON — In an interview with Raw Story, prolific Obama supporter and letter-writer “Ellie Light” slammed conservatives claiming the published writings were part of a White House “astroturf” operation, and regretted the “damage” they’ve done to the president.
The interview was conducted before the Cleveland Plain Dealer revealed that the deep, husky-voiced “woman” publicly calling herself “Ellie Light” was actually a man named Winston Steward. Most initially believed he was a woman, probably due to his mannerisms and tone, including this reporter.
Steward, 51, is a traveling health care worker based in Frazier Park, California. He admitted to being the author of letters published in dozens of newspapers across the country — sent with fake addresses from a variety of locations — under the name “Ellie Light.”
“The damage has been done,” Steward told Raw Story, “with blog posts and YouTube videos. I don’t think anything can undo that.”
He ripped conservatives for their unsubstantiated allegations about his ostensible affiliations with the White House.
“They are conspiracy theorists, there’s no doubt. Apparently I’m a space alien, that’s the newest thing on one Web site, so it just goes on and on. The Michelle Malkin people — they’re clowns. We know they’re clowns.”
Steward’s alias, Ellie Light, became the subject of widespread conservative fascination after one letter he wrote in defense of President Obama, first published by Politico‘s Ben Smith, subsequently appeared in dozens of newspapers across the country.
The story about his letter’s numerous appearances with different addresses was first broken on Friday, January 22 by Sabrina Eaton of The Plain Dealer newspaper before catching the attention of conservative Web sites such as Michelle Malkin’s blog, Patterico’s Pontifications and the National Review.
Following allegations that he wasn’t a real person and merely a ghost-name for an Obama official, Steward posed as a woman and claimed his name was “Ellie Light” in a radio interview on Tuesday, claiming that name was real but admitting he was “wrong” for “giving false address” while submitting the letter to various regional newspapers.
A flurry of conservative bloggers have since suggested — and outright accused — Steward of being an Obama administration plant. Many of them, including Michelle Malkin, declared he was part of White House “astroturf” activities to deceptively burnish its credentials.
He told Raw Story he believed the whole issue had been blown far out of proportion.
No evidence has been unearthed linking Steward to the Obama administration or the Democratic Party. He said he is not and has never been a activist for a political advocacy group.
“Affiliated with an organized group? No,” he said bluntly. “I’ve never been affiliated with anyone like that.”
Steward, who for a brief period after Obama got elected wrote diaries for the Daily Kos, said he hopes people will take the time to understand the situation rather than jump to conclusions.
“For those who pay attention a little longer, it could end up being good, but for the people who are only going to pay attention for the ‘Balloon Boy’ period it’ll be ‘oh, another one of those Obama things’.”
He said if he could go back in time, he “probably would have written the letter and told them all I was in the Los Angeles area.”
Criticizes Democrats: ‘not as loyal’ as Republicans
Steward declined to criticize Obama, calling him “the most remarkable elected official,” and criticized Democrats and progressives for allegedly wanting instant gratification of their wishes.
“Democrats have abandoned the president that they practically worshiped such a short time ago because he couldn’t tend to their needs in the first twelve months of office. And they’re behaving like a bunch of babies,” he said.
“They need to show that there’s a groundswell of support for the president so that the yahoos have nothing to talk about.”
Though he accepted that there are genuine critics of Obama on the left, he criticized Democrats for not being as loyal to Obama as Republicans were to former President George W. Bush.
“Think about the Republicans that had to suck it in in 2003 and 2004 when Bush was caught lying over and over and over again,” he said. “All the Republicans stood there and said ‘the president has his reasons, we trust the president.'”
“And we laughed at them, because they were all liars. But at least they were loyal.”
Steward said he will continue writing letters to newspapers in support of Obama and hoped more Democrats will do the same.
(Editor’s Note: Article originally confused Winston Steward’s last name. Thanks to the multiple readers who noticed the mistake. Raw Story regrets the error, and hopes Eric Arthur Blair’s estate will not mind.)