I was asked to do the Ed Show tonight to discuss my post about Joe Biden and Afghanistan. When I arrived, Andy Stern, the president of the SEIU, was coming out of the remote studio. "I was pre-empted," he said with a laugh. "Balloon Boy! They are going to devote the whole show to it."
Okay, I said, in that case, let's sit and talk about what's happening in Washington.
Just then, a producer rushed over to let me know they wanted me to get miked up and ready for air.
I took my seat in the studio. Through my earpiece, I listened as Ed interviewed an "expert" on the story: the woman who had been paired with the missing boy's parents on the reality show Wife Swap.
The woman told Ed that she initially thought the whole episode might have been a media ploy to get attention, "but then I thought 'No, that can't be, [the boy's dad] wouldn't do that!'"
Obviously missing the nuances of live TV, she added: "Please don't say that."
And that was about as insightful as the interview got.
After a commercial break, Ed asked me about the story. I told him that, for me, once the boy had been found, there was no story -- just tele-voyeurism. Why continue the wall-to-wall coverage of a story that had turned into a non-story -- on a political show -- during a week when health care, financial reform, and Afghanistan are all at the tipping point?
I love Ed. That's why the focus on Balloon Boy felt so out of character.
I've written a lot about the media's inability to break its addiction to these kinds of non-stories -- be they shark attacks, missing blondes, or celebrity trials.
Here is the exchange: