The Cutline

News outlets follow Loughner’s social media trail

The Cutline

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Jared Loughner on YouTube


In this era of online over-sharing, any 22-year-old will typically provide reams of personal information online.  So news organizations, trying to quickly piece together a profile of suspected Tucson gunman Jared Loughner, immediately turned to social media sites.

Loughner may have expected that to happen. He recently posted YouTube videos featuring bizarre, text-filled ramblings titled "Hello" and "Introduction: Jared Loughner."

"Hello, my name is Jared Lee Loughner," one read. "This video is my introduction to you! My favorite activity is conscience dreaming; the greatest inspiration for my political business information. Some of you don't dream—sadly."

But that wasn't all.

Loughner also included as his lone "favorite" video a chilling clip of a masked figure lighting an American flag on fire, set to a heavy metal song featuring the refrain: "Let the bodies hit the floor."

Also, he notably described his interests in the past tense and provided a hodgepodge list of favorite books that's now being dissected in the media—everything from "Mein Kampf" to "The Communist Manifesto,"  "Gulliver's Travels" to "The Wizard of Oz."

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Loughner on Myspace


On Saturday afternoon, cable news anchors read the text from Loughner's videos. By Sunday morning, newspaper profiles were published that heavily on details from the YouTube channel and a now-removed Myspace page. (A fake Facebook profile circulated Thursday before being removed).

On Myspace, Loughner allegedly wrote: "Please don't be mad at me... I cannot rest." The Drudge Report, one of numerous news sites to pick up the quote, linked to it with the phrase, "Myspace Generation." Other sites, such as Buzzfeed, posted screenshots from the Myspace before it was taken down. One features a United State History text book and a handgun.

After following Loughner's Internet trail, reporters started searching for anyone who knew him. Not surprisingly, one former classmate turned up on Twitter. Caitie Parker, a young woman who wrote Saturday on Twitter about knowing Loughner, quickly got enveloped in the media frenzy. "This is a circus," she wrote Saturday on Twitter. "Good Morning America just called me."

On Sunday morning, Parker appeared ABC's "Good Morning America," as well as the "Today" show.  (You can watch the latter appearance below).

Following the network interviews, Parker appeared to be done making the media rounds. Here was how she summed up the experience the following Sunday morning on Twitter: "Getting some sleep. Thanks for the kind words everyone. That should do it for the interviews. Hopefully I'll go back into obscurity again."

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