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Over-Exposure Of The Balloon Boy Hoax

Posted on October 22 2009 10:25 am
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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.

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