Today marks the 10th anniversary of the “Balloon Boy” fake news hoax of October 15 2009.
The story, about a young Colorado boy who had crawled into and been lifted away in a hot air balloon, dominated the American news cycle at the time, with updates on the situation splashed across every news network.
It turned out, however, that the incident was a hoax, and the boy was hiding in the attic of his home. His parents eventually pleaded guilty to charges related to the hoax, and the press wrote it off as a tough mistake in a burgeoning era of dubious news.
Watch local news network Denver7 reflect on the story above.
On Tuesday, Spectator USA columnist Caroline McCarthy recalled the balloon boy hoax as “an early example of a mainstream, internet-enabled fake news sensation.”
“It may seem crazy, but a lot of people had thought the internet would *prevent* this stuff,” she declared.
The “Balloon Boy” hoax, 10 years ago today, was an early example of a mainstream, internet-enabled fake news sensation. It may seem crazy, but a lot of people had thought the internet would *prevent* this stuff. What I wrote about it at the time: https://t.co/9ig1WsVoyi https://t.co/n7ighqa4Wr
— Caroline McCarthy (@caro) October 15, 2019
Other journalists from across the world also looked back at the fake news phenomenon through rose-tinted spectacles– reminiscing about where they were and what they were doing when all eyes were on a little boy supposedly trapped in a balloon.
The bizarre Colorado “Balloon Boy” hoax happened 10 years ago today. Do you remember watching this? It was wild. What a weird day pic.twitter.com/eRjI5ytjUp
— Joe Parris (@KTVBJoe) October 15, 2019
Ten years ago today- one of my proudest and stubborn on-air moments.
Doubting the stupid Balloon Boy story from the jump while making my pal and PD @keithlivesinCT nervous and mad “there’s a kid in there, man!”
No there’s not you idiot. 😆
— Jim Murray (@bigjimmurray) October 15, 2019
Balloon Boy 10 year anniversary today. pic.twitter.com/Cd1D49kDxd
— Alex DiPrato (@AlexDiPrato) October 15, 2019
10 years ago today a brave 6-year-old boy named Falcon boarded an aluminum-foil covered balloon and floated across Colorado…
— Daniel Boniface (@danielboniface) October 15, 2019
Happy 10-year anniversary to Balloon Boy! https://t.co/qzsWcfQxjS
— JJ Stankevitz (@JJStankevitz) October 15, 2019
— Brett Rosner (@Brosner85) October 15, 2019
Today’s the ten year anniversary of the balloon boy story!! I was an intern for the Situation Room in DC and I’m pretty sure we did wall to wall coverage for a few hours pic.twitter.com/nQIkf6dX4B
— Angelica Spanos (@AngelicaSpanos) October 15, 2019
Happy 10 year anniversary to Balloon Boy https://t.co/8ViPfQQ74G
— Marcus Gilmer (@marcusgilmer) October 15, 2019
10 years ago today, the “Balloon Boy” hoax occurred by Richard and Mayumi Heene who claimed that their six-year-old son Falcon was trapped inside a silver flying saucer streaking through the air. pic.twitter.com/zYsgF9pE6O
— Eric Alper 🎧 (@ThatEricAlper) October 15, 2019
If I don’t read What’s Balloon Boy Up To 10 Years Later today, the media failed
— Paul Biasco (@Paul_Biasco) October 15, 2019
The New Republic Senior Editor Jason Linkins reminisced with a 2009 article from Mediaite.
if today is the tenth anniversary of Balloon Boy then that means tomorrow is the tenth anniversary of Wolf Blitzer shitting the bed in an attempt to cover the Balloon Boy story https://t.co/6ELWwqtJQS
— Jason Linkins (@dceiver) October 15, 2019
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