Anatomy of a Social Media Firestorm: The Fascinating Case of @DCGopGirl #ElizabethLauten – Part 4

This is Part 4 of a four-part case study on the #ElizabethLauten social media firestorm. Read Part 3 or Start at the beginning. 

Side-by-side photos of Elizabeth Lauten and President Obama with Sasha and Malia at a turkey pardoning ceremony


While the #ElizabethLauten tweets kept pouring in, all was still quiet on the news front – with nothing appearing on Google except for a tweet here and a link to a Tumblr search results page for “Elizabeth+Lauten” there.

Not even a short article on, surprisingly enough.

So much for the 24-hour news cycle.

The only evidence outside of social media that a social firestorm was ablaze was the fact that Lauten’s website, dcgopgirl[dot]com, went from this:

Screenshot of Lauten's website dcgopgirl[dot]com

To this:

Screenshot of Lauten's website dcgopgirl[dot]com with server error


The next morning…

A little before 8am, this appeared on

Screenshot of Demetria Lucas's Root article. The article headline reads, "Picking on the Obama Girls Isn't Smart, Especially if You Work for a GOP Congressman"

Its author?

Demetria Lucas, The Root columnist who had tweeted and Instagrammed the infamous photo 17 hours earlier.

I can’t help but wonder, though, why it took so long for the story to appear on The Root seeing how one of its editors sparked the firestorm in the first place.

Granted, the lengthy delay may have had something to do with the fact that it was the day after Thanksgiving, during which most newsrooms are short staffed. And there was definitely a lot going on to distract the few journalists who were working – from Ferguson to Black Friday to the Black Friday Protests.

I wonder if the delay would have been as lengthy if it had been a normal news day.

At any rate, Lucas’s article created a wildfire effect of its own, and…

By that afternoon…

Over a dozen major news outlets had covered the story – from The Huffington Post to Mail Online in the UK, with many of those stories quoting from or attributing to Lucas’s article.

Screenshot of next day Google search results for Elizabeth Lauten, which includes numerous news stories.

And by that evening…

The tirade, the photo and the social media backlash was a top story on the CBS Evening News:


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