Sunday, October 25, 2009

Frank Rich on Balloon Boy's Dad

Frank Rich looks beneath the facade and finds a bit more depth in the Balloon Boy story: a tale of a misguided person trying to navigate a culture that has seriously blurred the line between news and entertainment, between reality and make-believe.

It would also be nice to think that the “balloon boy” viewers were the innocent victims of a dazzling Houdini-class feat of wizardry — a “massive fraud,” as Bill O’Reilly thundered. But even slightly jaundiced onlookers might have questioned how a balloon could waft buoyantly through the skies for hours with a 6-year-old boy hidden within its contours. That so few did is an indication of how practiced we are at suspending disbelief when watching anything labeled news, whether the subject is W.M.D.’s in Iraq or celebrity gossip in Hollywood.

“They put on a very good show for us, and we bought it,” the local sheriff, Jim Alderden, said last weekend, when he alleged that “balloon boy” was a hoax. His words could stand as the epitaph for an era.

Rich's column is an interesting reflection on our times and worth the read.

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