How Badly Do You Want to be on TV?

For a while there, I was going to studiously avoid writing (and hopefully reading) anything about the “Balloon Boy” story that seemed to capture the nation’s attention for a time last week. Silly me. This thing has turned into a choreographed train wreck that now threatens to engulf the Heene family of Colorado just like they allegedly suckered the media. And for what? A shot at reality television? Pullleeeeze!!!

In coverage best resembling the OJ car crawl of days gone by, the media and law enforcement conducted a gigantic aerial and ground pursuit of a balloon supposedly containing six year old Falcon Heene. Anyone who followed that coverage saw and heard breathless anchorpeople speculating whether the child was still alive, and at the same time interviewing various authorities and “experts”, most of whom were as clueless as they were.

Before getting back to the substance of this story, let me vent a little about the cable news networks’ increasingly common practice of talking to people who admit they don’t know what they’re talking about. Everybody from Wolf Blitzer on down is doing it, and it’s a colossal waste of time, not to mention an insult to the intelligence of viewers. It became a hallmark of the Heene story, and somebody with half a brain in these cable newsrooms ought to learn a lesson from it and stop already. But they won’t.

Okay, back to the Heene saga. The cops are now saying that family patriarch Richard used his own child to further his bid to score a reality television show. But wait, his family was already on one, some program called “Wife Swap”, weren’t they? Maybe the plethora of these programs (By way of full disclosure, the only reality show I watch is “Jerry Springer”. Why not head straight for the bottom?) gives just about everyone the hope they can cash in like Jon and Kate, or the winners of “So You Think You Can Dance”.

My question is this. Is reality show fame worth being charged with three felonies and a misdemeanor? And, while we’re at it, cynically taking advantage of your own kids? As some in the media have proclaimed, the Heene family has already given the nation a reality television episode, and I’m not talking about “Wife Swap”. Here was this balloon, floating through the air like a prop from an Ed Wood movie, with questions about whether a six year old tragically fell out of the thing before it landed.

And now we’re being told the whole thing was a hoax. Which brings up the question, how far would you go for a shot at TV fame and fortune? You tell me.
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