It was a simple economic message that took the national media by storm, thanks to the lucky
timing of a presidential visit.
Brothers Jeff and Scott Baker rented a billboard along the Niagara Thruway to share this message: "Dear Mr. President: I need a freakin job. Period." (Photo credit: Derek Gee / Buffalo News)
The Buffalo News reported on the billboard Wednesday, followed by CNN, CBS, Fox News, MSNBC and a host of other news outlets who tied the Bakers' plea to President Obama's Buffalo visit.
The brothers said they booked the billboard weeks before anyone knew Obama was coming here -- a point confirmed by Lamar Outdoor Advertising -- but skeptics remain.
Some people think their whole story sounds too good to be true, their Web site and a video they produced look too polished and someone with an agenda must have put the Bakers up to it.
Several have called and e-mailed to point me to the liberal Web site, Crooks and Liars, which posted an item this morning claiming Scott Baker is a conservative activist and online broadcaster with Breitbart.tv.
A pretty damning claim, except it's not true. There are a few clues Crooks and Liars might have picked up on:
--The Breitbart.tv Scott Baker is a former Pittsburgh TV news anchor.
--The Scott Baker who said he paid $5,500 of his own money to put up his brother's billboard lives in Akron, a point confirmed by county voter registration records going back to 2002.
That would have made it difficult, though not impossible, for him to work as a Pittsburgh TV anchor for 13 years, ending in 2006, according to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article.
--Scott Baker's "freakin job" is vice president of operations at a Buffalo-area manufacturing company and he graduated from the University at Buffalo, according to his LinkedIn profile.
The Breitbart.tv Scott Baker attended Wheaton College, where he got his start in politics, according to his Breitbart.tv bio.
--And the Post-Gazette article states the Breitbart.tv Scott Baker is married to his second wife, a former Miss America, while the "freakin job" Scott Baker said he has been married to the same wonderful -- though non-pageant-winning woman -- for years.
--Perhaps the best piece of evidence? The Breitbart.tv Scott Baker interviewed the "freakin job" Scott Baker on his show this afternoon.
Is this enough to convince the doubters? I don't know.
The guy behind Crooks and Liars posted an update to his original note, conceding that he might have had it wrong and referring to my story that ran in today's Buffalo News.
(Although he doesn't know there's an Akron, N.Y., and this leads to some more confusion.)
He writes: "Based on this additional information, I would not have made the definitive conclusion that I did last night. I would have said that given the commonality of the name no firm conclusion can be made.
"I'd also recommend Jeff Baker consider web design or video production as his next career, since he did such a splendid job on the site, the integrated Facebook page, the social media PR management and the billboard. He's obviously quite talented."
--Stephen T. Watson