A Media Duped – Again

In 2009, many of sat glued to our TVs or computer monitors as we anxiously watched a small weather balloon traipse across the Colorado sky. Every drop and bump the balloon incurred caused hearts to skip a beat as it was believed a young boy could be trapped. Richard Heene, a self-proclaimed scientist, along with his passive wife, Mayumi, appeared to be frantic parents, scared for their son whose fate was in no one’s hands. He very likely was at the mercy of the winds the blew and any miracles bestowed upon him.

Bless her heart - how much say did she have in this mess? Photo: ABC News

Later that evening, Falcon Heene was discovered safe and sound at home, where he’d been the entire time. You know it’s a big news story when Dick Wolf makes it into one of his famous Law & Order storylines. Later, in an interview with Wolf Blitzer, Falcon Heene let the cat out of the bag, so to speak, and revealed that the entire day’s events had been staged by his father. Richard Heene quickly became the most disliked father in the nation and in fact, pled guilty to attempting to influence a public servant.

Fast forward almost two years and we’re introduced to another parent with less than ideal morals and ethics. Remember “Botox Mom” from last week? The woman who admitted on national TV that she regularly injects her 8 year old daughter with Botox and schedules routine bikini waxes for the child? Kerry Campbell soon became a most mysterious mother who suddenly vanished. Turns out, ABC had been fooled (or, at least, that’s the newest story at the time of this writing). Kerry Campbell’s real name is Sheena Upton and she’s now saying that not only was she lying, but that she was paid by at least two media outlets, one paid her to lie and another paid her for the exclusive story. If what she’s saying today is to be believed, she’s now $10,300 wealthier.

In a sworn declaration, Upton said the UK newspaper The Sun paid her $300 to tell a story that the paper’s editors wrote. All she had to do was recite it – and boy did she! While ABC isn’t commenting, it does say it’s possible photo rights might have been purchased in recent days.

Why all the lies? Are these adults so narcissistic that they feel entitled to the national spotlight? And how do these folks continue to lie without being caught until after the cameras have stopped rolling?

Former FBI Special Agent Joe Navarro wrote a book, “Clues to Deceit: A Practical List” (an excellent read and I highly recommend it). He says there are more than 200 subtle behaviors that give away a liar. The problem, says Navarro, is that the interviewers in the media simply aren’t programmed to recognize them. Not only that, these soft interview techniques actually make it easy for someone to sell you the moon – even if they are irresponsible parents who are making a buck off their little ones. Add in the editing and commercial breaks, and those subtle tell-tale signs are impossible to recognize.

Let’s face it, the collective media has become controversial, at best, in recent years. Fox is too right leaning, MSNBC is too liberal, Matt Drudge is wrong, celebrities who lean left are wrong – everyone has an opinion on the supposed-impartial media, right? The truth is, the media is no less vulnerable with its fact checking efforts as the average citizen walking the streets. If it’s for sell, there’s always going to be someone to buy it, regardless of the incredulous product.


2 thoughts on “A Media Duped – Again

  1. Pingback: Media – Not a Four Letter Word, But it’s Getting Close « It's All About the Right Writing

  2. I never heard anything about the balloon and the little boy, but I had heard about the little girl and botox. Some parents are just nuts–no matter what their reasoning was, the end result is the same… they’re nuts. I don’t have children, so I can’t really judge parents on most things, but this one is making it REALLY hard not to.

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