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Runaway balloon down; story still aloft

Heene and son Falcon

Heene and son Falcon

When I ended my previous post about the “balloon boy” here in Colorado, I really intended and fully expected that to be the end of it. A big kerfuffle over nothing more than a 6-year-old’s mischief.

I knew the media would milk the story for as long as they could, telling and retelling it, speculating ad nauseam about the whole thing and then reporting on their own speculation. The “24-hour news cycle” of cable television is a curse in so many ways. Their yammering finally got to me, though; after all, there’s been nothing more important in the entire world going on than the Heene family, especially papa Richard Heene.

From everything I’ve heard, even while trying to ignore the story, Richard Heene sounds like a flake. And that’s okay. The world is full of flakes and mischievous little boys. Still no story, not even after I heard the family had been on the reality show “Wife Swap.” I just wrote Heene off as a bigger flake. Don’t know how a flaky amateur scientist supports his family, aside from getting on reality shows, but …

Still, in the back of my mind, the idea finally began to gel. The guy likes publicity, being in the spotlight, having the cameras on him, and maybe getting paid for it. He’s been featured on local television in the past, as a storm chaser (cool) who takes his wife and kids with him (not so cool) and also in a magazine article.

Then during a national TV interview (more publicity!), little Falcon made some comment about hiding because they were doing “a show.” Normal people wouldn’t assign much importance to the comments of a shy 6-year-old, and I didn’t, but the media went predictably nuts (more nuts) over it.

What really got to me though, what really marked the parents as … uh … hmm … irresponsible were the two back-to-back national interviews (I just saw clips) where Falcon clearly wasn’t feeling at all well and in the second interview, actually vomited. As the two interviews proceeded, neither parent had more than a few words of concern for the sick child and neither left nor ended the interviews to care for him. (Just hand him a plastic bowl. The show must go on!) A TV interview is more important to you than your sick child? You two “parents” are the sick ones!

To that, add the amateur video footage of Heene and his wife on the scene when the balloon was released, despite his earlier statement that both were inside. Add the fact that before calling 9-1-1, Heene called (a) the FAA to warn them the balloon was aloft, and (b) a local TV station, so they could aid in the search with their helicopter. Uh huh. Yep, that’s what he did.

Ladies and gentlemen, I confess that despite my best efforts, I have finally been sucked into the media vortex of suspicion that something’s rotten in Denmark … er … Fort Collins, Colo. I sleep better knowing the authorities — including child services — are still investigating.

Now that I've had my say ...

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