Mommy Blogger: 'TSA Took My Son' - TSA: We Don't Think So

Filed under: In The News, Weird But True, Opinions

This month was a big one for hoaxes involving parents.

The big one, of course, was Falcon Heene, aka "Balloon Boy." Except that he turned out to be "Going-Along-With-Dad's-Stupid-Idea-Boy" and now Richard Heene, the father, may be charged with a crime.

Less infamous is blogger Nicole White, who posted the entry "TSA agents took my son" to her blog, My Bottle's Up, on Oct.16. Apparently something set off the metal detector as Nicole and her toddler son were on their way to a flight. The tale she tells is harrowing and so detailed one might think she was wearing a wire. (Summary: Nicole says she politely asks if she can be screened so she will make her flight. The TSA person supposedly says she doesn't care. Nicole uses the f-word. Lather, rinse, repeat.)

Then comes the money shot: According to Nicole, her "son was taken" by "TSA agents at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson airport".

When her post went live, the blogosphere exploded. People who read her account of airport ineptitude were horrified. There was much re-tweeting and gnashing of virtual teeth.

Except that the story wasn't true.Responding to Nicole's blog post, the TSA released a video of the incident. It differs dramatically from what appears on My Bottle's Up. The key word here is "dramatically" -- Nicole's blog post has a lot of drama, the video does not. Most importantly, at no time in the video is Nicole's child removed from her sight.

Nicole's response was reminiscent of William Faulkner's line that, "Facts and truth really don't have much to do with each other." Or Stephen Colbert's "truthiness," if you prefer a more pop-culture friendly reference. She acknowledges that she is indeed the woman in the TSA video. As to her son being "taken," she writes: "In the video, it looks as though my son is playing happily in his stroller while I am being searched with a wand. Obviously this is the big discrepancy with my story, since he was not in my sight at that time, and one that I, too, am thoroughly looking into."

Looking into? What does that mean? Are you considering the possibility that you hallucinated the whole thing? At no point in the TSA video is the child taken away as she originally describes.

So unless the TSA contracted George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic to create some spectacular special effects, it would appear that Nicole was at best exaggerating. At worst, she lied. For those sleuths who are interested, here's a link to all of the TSA's raw footage.

We have seen recently how Mommy Blogging can become all about Mommy. That's fine -- it is a blog, after all. But when you use your children to get attention in the media, you cross a line. This is no different from Richard Heene lying about his son Falcon floating away on a balloon. At least Nicole White didn't call 911. But she did accuse government officials of something that they clearly did not do.

Is the TSA perfect? Of course not. Are there instances of TSA employee misconduct? Probably. But the next time someone has a complaint, anyone who knows the story of Nicole White will take that news with a grain of salt. It's the Blogger Who Cried Wolf. So if Nicole's goal was to expose misconduct, she hasn't done a very good job.

Odds are, however, that wasn't her goal. She probably wanted attention, traffic to her Web site and the money that comes from the ads that appear there. And it appears she was willing to make up a story about her son in order to get it.

Was it worth it? You'd have to ask Nicole White.

Related: A Note to Balloon Boy's Dad

ReaderComments (Page 1 of 8)


Flickr RSS



AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.