FORT COLLINS, Colo. – I believed.
Even though it was a head-scratcher, I somehow thought a 6-year-old boy really had stowed himself away on a flying saucer. I was as fascinated by it all, as I was embarrassed that I couldn't turn away.
And then, there was that landing, straight out of a sci-fi movie. It was "War of the Worlds" meets "Close Encounters." A muffled cheer even went up in our newsroom. It looked like it was all going to be OK.
But of course, it wasn't. And maybe that's why the so-called "balloon boy" saga drew such a visceral reaction.
|VIDEO: 911 tapes from 'balloon boy' saga emerge|
While the world was worried about the fate of Falcon Heene floating across the Colorado plains, he was hiding in his family's garage.
If what investigators say is true, the Heene family had barged into our living rooms, and then stole from us the happy ending we thought we all deserved. Accusations were quickly made that Falcon was just a pawn in his parents attempt to get publicity for a reality TV show.
But that wasn't the end of the deception. The man with the white hat was the Larimer County sheriff. Surely he'd make it all right.
But from day one, Sheriff Jim Alderdan told most of the media (the ones he didn't know) that he actually believed the family. He said their story was credible, and even hinted that the case was closed.
So I started to believe again. Maybe we were rushing to judgment. Maybe this family that took pride in being different was just that: different, but not criminal.
Problem is, the sheriff never really believed a word he was saying. He spent two days fibbing in front of the cameras (ours included) just as convincingly as Falcon's father, Richard Heene, had done. A hoax used to out a hoax.
The difference of course is the end. Richard Heene is accused of lying to become famous. The sheriff admitted to misleading the public to get justice.
But lost in it all was trust. The "balloon boy" story will be remembered for all its lunacy and its hype. It was a good yarn, trivial by almost every measure that started with those fantastic pictures, and ended with a bad taste in everyone's mouth.
I believed. My bad.