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Over-Exposure Of The Balloon Boy Hoax

October 22, 2009


The media – particularly the cable news networks – continue to embarrass themselves with obsessive coverage of the balloon boy saga.   It started, of course, with non-stop coverage of the balloon in flight, when we were all deceived into thinking that a little boy’s life was really in danger.  Then, after the boy was found hiding in a closet, the family appeared on various TV shows including on CNN, where little Falcon spilled the beans on the publicity stunt that his parents were perpetrating on the public.

That should have been the end of it.  But the cable shows continue to pontificate on the lessons we are all supposed to learn from the episode, on what punishment should be meted out to the parents, and on what should happen to the kids.  Bill O’Reilly even had his body language expert on last night analyzing every movement and facial expression of the parents and of the balloon boy himself.

Enough already!  The notoriety is feeding right into the father’s insatiable appetite for fame.  Even if he and his wife have to spend a couple of years in jail, a book and made-for-TV movie will be sure to follow if this pitiful display of psychological child abuse and deception is permitted to continue on the tube.

Norman Lear, whom I do not ordinarily agree with, correctly lambasted CNN, Fox News, MSNBC as well as the regular television news programs in his Huffington Post piece for scraping the bottom of the news barrel and “serving it up 24/7”.   Lear then asked rhetorically:

Did any of them find a minute to wonder if their scraping…doesn’t have something to do with creating a climate that mistakes entertainment for news to an extent that it all but seduces a Richard and Mayumi Heene into believing they are — even if what they dream up to qualify is a hoax — entitled to their 15 minutes?

Unfortunately, Lear then ends his piece expressing “some empathy for Balloon Boy’s Dad”.  Of course, that’s utterly ridiculous.  The father and mother should have the book thrown at them, and any money they make as a result of the hoax should be confiscated to pay for all of the costs incurred in trying to save the boy from the harm that he was never in.

But Lear’s main message is right – the cable shows should stop their shameless bottom-feeding for ratings immediately or none of them will be taken seriously as real news.

  1. October 22, 2009 3:54 pm

    Every serious journalist should take a little time to see what it is that has been going on that the media (or administration) does not want covered.

    Just as Arthur Anderson and Enron and others were able to kee a low profile while Martha Stewart of all people was dragged across the national stage, and back.

    A “slow news day” can allow a stupid story a day or two in the public eye. Only a smoke screen makes one last a week or more.

  2. Walt permalink
    October 22, 2009 8:10 pm

    That level of coverage cannot be reasonably justified, and it only encourages copycats.

  3. October 23, 2009 3:23 am

    At the end of the day, what defines serious organic mental illness is the loss of one’s ability to distinguish between reality and fantasy. It is perplexing that television’s new cultural fashion
    has usurped the word “reality” to describe programs which are in fact pure fantasy. How on earth could people behave “realistically” while being followed about 24/7 by a huge TV production team with all its equipment? The idea is patently absurd.
    Several full days of air time were irresponsibly squandered on this non-event. Viewers were mesmerized at the prospect of ONE little boy’s losing his life, and thereafter by the fallout from the hoax. During that period how many of our soldiers were killed, how many children died inDarfur, how many suicide bombings took place, etc., etc.?
    Our culture is rapidly losing its ability to distinguish between news and entertainment.

  4. Jack Hampton permalink
    October 23, 2009 4:59 am

    They both need a nice cozy jail cell. But I do fear there will be more to this story than we have heard. How do you keep a six year old boy that quite for that long? Also I am suspicious of an ego that large.

  5. peachey permalink
    October 23, 2009 11:30 am

    A hyped non-event elevated to the level of a moon shot. The world is falling apart, our country is beyond bankrupt, corruption and deceipt is pervasive in Washingto D.C., laws and legislation contrary to the Constitution are being passed without the support of the people, and then we have “balloon boy”. Now, we know the etiology of the failure of the mainstream media to question and follow up on the behavior in Washinton D.C. Maybe we should fake a UFO story and hang a mock up UFO craft over the Capital Building.

  6. October 23, 2009 4:45 pm

    The parents are obviously mentally ill and should not have control over the welfare of their children; but wife swaps and reality shows have forged a path for them to the asylum or the prison cell. Yet another dysfunctional family seeking fame and fortune without sweat and toil. No doubt the parents would make it big in political careers.

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