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The Terrifying Truth Behind NBC’s ‘To Catch A Predator’ | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey

The Big Picture

  • To Catch A Predator lacked journalistic integrity, focusing more on ratings than reporting crimes, causing controversy among journalists and critics.
  • The show’s efforts to catch predators didn’t always result in justice, with instances of offenders not being charged or acquitted due to entrapment and tainted evidence.
  • Host Chris Hansen’s personal scandals, including infidelity and financial troubles, overshadowed the show’s success and led to its downfall.

To Catch A Predator is a visual representation of how the word “ick” feels. Led by host Chris Hansen, To Catch A Predator is an NBC sting operation that catches adult men in the act of soliciting minors for sexual acts. The team hunkers down in chat rooms, posing as young girls, to communicate with older men. These men are looking to meet up with them, and they insinuate that they would like to perform inappropriate acts with the minor. It has been compelling audiences since 2004 and garnered applause for catching creeps and keeping them away from children, but not everyone finds the show to be a positive act.

However, is the show altruistic or is it just a scheme for money and ratings? Are the predators that are caught in the act being convicted of the crimes they wanted to commit? The show has sparked controversy as much as it has collected ratings, but what was going on behind the scenes? Here’s what we know.

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To Catch A Predator Has Zero Journalistic Integrity

Reporters were one of the first to jump on To Catch A Predator being questionable in execution. Brian Montopoli from CBS News claims that the show didn’t operate with journalistic integrity. Everything they did was with the intent of achieving more ratings and instead of reporting the crimes, they were essentially creating more. While Montopoli disagrees with the way the show tackles issues of pedophilia, he did also state that he doesn’t feel any remorse for the men being caught because they should be. On a related note, Hansen mentioned once that he didn’t feel they were catching pedophiles. During an interview with NPR, he said they technically weren’t because pedophiles are interested in those who were prepubescent. The team at Perverted Justice, the organization that set up To Catch A Predator, is pretending to be 13 to 15 years old, so by Hansen’s technicality, it’s not the same. A very weird thing to say as the men caught on the shows all are going after children under the age of 18, but sure, hide behind a technicality.

To Catch A Predator Isn’t Always Resulting In Justice

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Unfortunately, not every offender on the show is actually persecuted for the crimes they intend to commit. There was a specific instance in Murphy, Texas where none of the men caught were charged. The team had nailed 24 men in Murphy and the district attorney and the Mayor in that area refused to prosecute these men because they felt the situation had been tainted. They stated that they believe the men should be punished for what they did, but the involvement of cameras and being recorded for television caused them to raise some eyebrows. In fact, one man was entirely acquitted of his crimes. When a 26-year-old sailor was allotted leave time in Petaluma, California, he was caught by the Perverted Justice team for trying to have sex with their 13-year-old decoy. The judge on the case threw it out because they had failed to provide the specific intent to commit the crime. The judge also reamed the team for entrapment in their tactics of capture. There is another instance in which NBC was being sued by a sister whose brother committed suicide after being exposed on the show. The lawsuit was resolved in the end.

Chris Hansen Couldn’t Hold The Job Or Stay Out Of The News


In 2007, To Catch A Predator had received so much negative press that NBC could no longer continue with Hansen and his team. During that year, they started scaling back on the segments, dipping from an average of 7 per year to only one segment in 2007. The nail in the coffin for the show was when Hansen was caught cheating on his wife with another reporter. A source on the matter told RadarOnline.com that Hansen’s extramarital affairs were an embarrassment to the network, especially given the reporter was an affiliate reporter in Florida. Later in 2015, Hansen launched a Kickstarter to get the show up and running again under the name Hansen vs. Predator. This was intended to be a web series with the same premise as To Catch A Predator that would eventually make its way back to television. The Kickstarter worked because he was picked up in 2016 to host Crime Watch Daily, which became Crime Watch Daily with Chris Hansen once he signed on. Unfortunately for that show, Hansen was struggling with his spending habits which eventually led to his demise. In 2019, Hansen was arrested for spending $13,000 at a local Connecticut store with multiple checks that bounced. He turned himself in and was released from jail after being booked.

The premise of the show was great in theory, but many of the behind-the-scenes moments make To Catch A Predator less of the justice viewers want to see. The show couldn’t seem to keep their side of the street clean and with the high profile nature of the show and network, their dirty secrets were bound to come to light. Maybe it was a good thing for the show though, because with the way the true-crime community is today, the show may not have made it past its final air date in 2007 anyway.

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