I’m not surprised that the Balloon Boy story now looks like it was a hoax. Despite Sheriff Jim Alderdon’s statements two days ago (including my conversation with him on WLS/Chicago), I still had my doubts.
That disbelief was driven by the Heene family’s eager willingness to make so many TV appearances — all the network morning shows on Friday (with Falcon Heene throwing up on two of them), “Larry King Live” the night before, and Richard Heene’s regular “news conferences” at the barrage of microphones in his front yard. Whenever someone opens themselves up to news outlets that easily, I get queasy.
I know my colleagues in the media will hate me for saying this, but I wish more people would turn down the opportunity to tell their stories to the world. Perhaps the surplus of reality shows has added to the ever-increasing desire to be in front of a camera, but I have more respect for those who refuse to bare their lives for our entertainment.
That’s why I was disappointed to see Jaycee Dugard show up on the cover of People magazine. She and her family didn’t need to expose the still-raw wound of what she was forced to experience for the last 18 years, and I had hoped that she would protect herself — and especially her two teenage daughters — from the glare of the media spotlight. They should have followed the examples of the Hornbeck and Ownsby families, both of whom have kept their sons under wraps since they were rescued from Michael Devlin’s apartment in Kirkwood, Missouri, two years ago. It has, and will, take a long time for them to get over the psychological and physical abuse they were forced to endure, and while they do, it’s none of our business.
None of our business. That’s a concept that’s become almost alien in America. We, as observers need to remember it. Moreover, the participants need to apply it. When they don’t, when they accept every media request to tell their story, when they even make initial contact with the media (as Richard Heene allegedly did), we should be wary of the tales they spin.