Posted by Broadway Carl
How else do you explain the nonstop coverage of today's story about a runaway balloon allegedly with a six-year old boy along for the ride? Once the balloon landed, and no boy was found, the very first thing I thought was that the boy let the balloon go and realizing how stupid it was, decided to hide for fear of getting in major trouble. If I were six years old and did something as asinine, I'd hide too!
The story has a "happy" ending. Despite horrid thoughts and speculation by bearded CNN pundits of a box or basket that was attached to the balloon in which the little fly boy hopped in and eventually plummeted to his death while 10,000 feet high, he was eventually found hiding in his attic, scared shitless of the Major League trouble he would be in.
And yet, hours after the homemade weather balloon landed two counties away sans kid, we were forced to watch speculators and and pseudo-pundits trying to figure out how high the balloon got, if it could handle the weight of a child and the basket he was supposedly in, all while watching the same 30 seconds of footage of the flying balloon, followed by 30 seconds of the balloon landing, followed by 30 seconds of the flying balloon that we'd just seen.
The world stopped while this balloon was in the air. Nothing else was happening. At least not according to the 24/7 news media outlets. And even after the boy was found, they kept talking about it! Nothing happened on the health care front. Everyone forgot to criticize President Obama's trip to New Orleans. Yet we were mesmerized by the balloon story. That silver, mylar, flying saucer shaped balloon put most of us in a trance even when there was NO NEW NEWS to report for hours.
This is the problem with 24 hour news outlets. When does breaking news stop becoming breaking news? Even when the story is long over, it's still "Breaking News" and real news gets ignored. Sensationalism is only sensational when something sensational happens, whether it be the balloon boy, or Natalee Halloway or Anna Nicole Smith or Michael Jackson. I wish someone would let cable news producers in on that little tidbit of information.
UPDATE: SURPRISE! (Not.) Balloon Boy Hoax
Falcon Heene: "You guys said that we did it for the show."
When I found out about Balloon Boy, my first instinct after I heard he wasn't on the balloon after it had landed was that he had untethered it, and fearing the wrath of mommy and daddy, decided to hide out. When I found out that these people were on ABC's Wife Swap, my cynical side immediately took over and I thought mom and dad might be attention hounds or that it might be a publicity stunt. Luckily for us, six-year olds are too honest when under pressure, you know, like during a live TV interview.
I wonder if Mr. Heene is going to get a nice, fat invoice for the emergency resources that were used in searching for a child that wasn't lost?