Thursday, April 17, 2014
Balloon Boy: Was It a Publicity Stunt?
We covered this case when it happened, and it is interesting to note how the CNN announcers covered it, looking back, and how the general public seemed to be more in tune with the deception than those in media.
Its interesting to note that we had indicated the family for deception right away, but as the case unfolded, the networks seemed to want to hold on to the drama.
The family cost taxpayers quite a bit.
Here, Diane Sawyer asked Richard Hennee, the father, if it was a publicity stunt. She brings forth the assertion that many people believe it was a hoax. This is the father's reply:
"Well, you know, they weren't there. Um, I went through such a roller coaster of um, emotions yesterday, um, to have people say that I think is extremely pathetic. Um, we were holding on to every second, you know, every second just hoping that, uh, he was going to come out of it ok. And um, I mean, I'm not selling anything. This is what we do all of the time. We made out , uh, the Henne family schedule in advance, a year in advance, what were gunna do, where were gunna do it, and um, I'm not selling anything, you know, I don't have a can of beans I trying to promote. So uh, this is just another day in the life of what we do."
The question is simple: Was it a publicity stunt?
Even though it is a "yes or no" question, we find that the subject avoided answering the question, meaning that the question, itself, is sensitive to him.
Recall if he is unwilling or unable to deny it, we are not to deny it for him. But his answer is useful for teaching.
In a "yes or no" question, particularly when viewing a presupposed or expected denial, we like to look at every word that comes after the word "no" as additional wording.
"Well, you know, they weren't there.
When one begins with a pause, there is a need for a pause.
The phrase, "you know" is a habit of speech. Like all habits of speech, we note what topics cause it to arrive, and what topics do not. "You know" shows an acute awareness of the presence of the interviewer (or audience). I use it when nervous, in public speaking, particularly when I veer off my carefully prepared notes.
Note his answer: he does not deny it was a publicity stunt, but only asserts that those who think it was a publicity stunt (Sawyer said that many people think it was a publicity stunt), were not present. This is the basis of his argument?
Um, I went through such a roller coaster of um, emotions yesterday, um, to have people say that I think is extremely pathetic.
He uses the word "I", which is strong and unless the language suggests otherwise, we are to believe him. He connects it with the past tense verb, "went."
When he says that he went through a "roller coaster" of emotions, I believe him. Even if it was a publicity stunt, the roller coaster of emotions were likely present.
...yet, if it was not a publicity stunt, a "roller coaster" is known for its "ups and downs", which would leave me wondering: if he thought his son was hundreds of feet in the air, what "ups" did he experience?
Um, we were holding on to every second, you know, every second just hoping that, uh, he was going to come out of it ok.
While describing his emotion, he changes from "I" to "we" without contextual change. The roller coaster now became "holding on", and "I" went to "we", another indication that deception may be present.
And um, I mean, I'm not selling anything.
That which is reported in the negative is always important. Here, he, himself, introduces the topic of profit. Simply listening to him, I would ask myself, "What is he selling?" We now know that he was trying to sell himself into a 'reality' TV show.
This is what we do all of the time.
I believe him. I think that "we" (the family) tries, "all the time" to find ways to get themselves on television and noticed, using appearance, music, and even deception, in attempts to be noticed.
We made out , uh, the Henne family schedule in advance, a year in advance, what were gunna do, where were gunna do it, and um, I'm not selling anything, you know, I don't have a can of beans I trying to promote. So uh, this is just another day in the life of what we do."
Going from "We" back to "I", we now have the negative and repetition of:
"I'm not selling anything", which, for most people, screams that he is, indeed, selling something.
He is truthful in that he is not selling a can of beans. He is selling an idea; the idea that his family should be on television and he should be paid.
This did not work out for him, as the hoax came to light after the tv interview, though readers here knew immediately. That this is just another day in the life is also true: he went on to try to sell other ideas, including foul mouthed children's video.
Follow the pronouns.
Note the location of emotions.
Believe the subject unless he gives you reason not to.
Avoid reality TV shows.