24. The Balloon Boy hoax
Date: October 15, 2009
In October 2009, reports started pouring into news stations that there was a runaway gas balloon floating around Colorado with a small child alone inside of it. Reporters and cameras flocked to the scene and locked in on the balloon as the public watched what was thought to be a potential tragedy, due to unconfirmed reports that the boy had fallen from the balloon. Later into the day, though, the world breathed a sigh of relief when the child was found hiding in the attic of his home.
Almost instantly, suspicious rose that the whole thing was a hoax orchestrated by the parents. And an apparent slip of the tongue by the boy in a Wolf Blitzer-conducted follow-up interview confirmed those fears. Hoax aside, this was an engrossing piece of live television that captured our complete attention for an afternoon.