Last week, the world was riveted with the Balloon Boy story now revealed as a hoax. Our fears for the safety of a little boy quickly turned to outrage: it was all a stunt to gain publicity.
Frank Rich, in an Op-Ed in Saturday’s New York Times, calls us back to compassion – but this time, for Balloon Boy Dad. Out of work, bolstered by two appearances on reality TV, it seemed so easy – and not much different, ethically – to foist his own reality.
While Rich does not let Dad off the hook, he points fingers at sensationalized news which cannot be bothered to check or care about facts, at the burgeoning reality show mania, and most especially at us – the folks who, in riveting our eyes on one spectacle may, in the process, induce the next.
While Balloon Boy Dad will have to deal with the US justice system, I’m glad that Frank Rich is asking the rest of us to deal with the other part of that sad situation: ourselves.