Christopher Edward "Chris" Hansen is an American television journalist. He is known for his work on Dateline NBC, in particular the former segment To Catch a Predator, which revolved around catching potential Internet sex predators using a sting operation.
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Hi reddit. It's been 2 years since my previous AMA, and since then, a lot has changed. But one thing that hasn't changed is my commitment to removing predators of all sorts from the streets and internet.
I've launched a new campaign called "Hansen vs. Predator" with the goal of creating a new series that will conduct new investigations for a new program.
You can help support the campaign here:
Or on our official Kickstarter page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1606694156/hansen-vs-predator
Let's answer some questions. Victoria's helping me over the phone. AMA.
Update: Thank you for asking me anything. And for all your support on the Kickstarter campaign. And I wish I had more time to chat with all of you, but I gotta get back to work here - I'm in Seattle. Thank you!
Have you ever considered doing a "Follow Up" episode on certain of the caught predators? I'd like to think that some of them learned their lesson and came out of it better people. Obviously, none of them are happy to be in the position they were in they met you the first time, but some of them might appreciate the opportunity to show how much they've grown/matured/changed. Or is that something that would get shot down by 100% of the individuals?
I think that's an excellent idea.
In fact, I'm going to give serious thought to reaching out to some people who could take part in that.
I think it would be fascinating.
Hi Chris! How did you feel about the South Park episode that had you as a character?
It finally made me look "cool" to my teenage sons.
Hi Chris. Why don't you have a seat right over there.
1) What was your reaction when you learned that a man had killed himself during a sting operation involving Perverted-Justice and at least one Dateline cameraman? With your new Kickstarter project, do you have any concern about this happening again?
edit: not sure why I labeled that "1)"...
Any suicide is awful, and tragic.
Our investigations will follow a strict protocol to ensure that while justice is served, it is done so ethically and fairly.
Love the show, and glad to see it coming back! In your observation, is Mikes Hard Lemonade the choice beverage amongst predators?
We actually got a call from the lawyers at Mike's Hard Lemonade asking us to not use their product anymore.
What was the most unexpected item brought along to one of the bait houses?
A predator brought along their 5 year old son.
Do you ever wake up and say to yourself, i'm Chris Haaannnssseenn?
Was there ever a reaction that a predator had that you were surprised by?
Before I could say a word, one of them looked at me and said "Oh, you're Chris Hansen."
I said, "How did you know that?"
And he said "I watch the show all the time, and when I miss an episode, I download it from the internet."
Will Hansen Vs. Predator feature the same creepy chat log voice actor that we all know and love from TCaP?
Hey Chris! In your new series, "Hansen vs Predator", can we expect the same "why don't you have a seat over there" catchphrase?
Yes, of course.
But I'll also have some new catchphrases as well.
How many people take the cookies/tea offered? I've always found it odd when they do
Although one night, the brownies were left out overnight, and the first predator the next morning almost broke a tooth, they were so hard.
On To Catch A Predator were you ever worried about the predators considering how violent they could theoretically be?
Yes, but we took a lot of precautions with our security, and I'm confident that we have & will be as safe as possible.
Good to hear protocols are in place.
On a lighter note have you seen some of the parodies of your show? What are your thoughts?
This boondocks episode in particular comes to mind
Imitation is flattery.
Has any predator ever got in contact with you after the show and tell you how their life is going?
I can't think of a case where that's happened.
Welcome back to reddit!
What's a project that you were passionate about, but never really took off?
Well, I could tell you right off the top of my head, it was a story involving US government contractors using slave labor at government bases overseas.
It didn't take off. We weren't able to infiltrate it at a level where we could get video evidence where we knew what was going on.
The other one was we were going to set up a "predator house" to capture Chinese spies. That never got off the ground either.
What was the worst scenario you have encountered? The one that made question humanity the most.
When the guy walked in, naked... and wanted to involve whipped cream and a cat in the sexual scenario.
I was wondering why you're doing a kickstarter for this? Surely lots of companies would be happy to fund this project.
Also did you like The Boondocks parody?
I would say to that: I'm going this route because I want to have creative control, and control of distribution, and to be honest with you, I've never seen the Boondocks Parody! I wasn't aware of it. It's been described to me, but I haven't seen it.
Hey Chris. I'm excited about the prospect of this new show. I'm a fan of TCAP.
What would you say to those who view what you do as entrapment?
It's not entrapment. Because the decoys never make the first move. Nor do they raise the issue of having sex. It's always the potential predator that does that.
What inspired you to continue doing To Catch a Predator online, instead of on regular television?
The plan is to do it originally online, and repackage it for broadcast, so we want to do both.
And it's because that's the way people are receiving content these days. And audiences are there to consume the show.
Why don't you take a seat over there?
I'd like to, but I've been driving around working on a story all day and I need to stretch my legs.
How did the idea for "To Catch a Predator" come about?
Did you learn anything unexpected while conducting these stings over the years?
The idea grew out of a conversation I had years ago, with a fellow reporter, a friend of mine. We learned about the online watchdog group, Perverted Justice, and I figured if we could combine their talent posting as decoys with our hidden camera technology, it could be pretty compelling.
And what surprised me most is that these guys come from all walks of life. They usually don't stand out of a crowd. Doctors, clergymen, military people, teachers...
Will you create the show regardless of the Kickstarter goal being met?
I'm confident we'll surpass our goal.
Time and again it has been revealed that pedophiles seek positions of respect and authority. Priests, politicians, police, etc..
Will you ever pursue such monsters who have the means to make your life... uncomfortable? Or have you tried such things in the past and encountered enough resistance to force you to back off?
We've never backed off, with anyone, no matter what their position is in society.
What will you change about the show this time around if your crowd funding is successful?
We would change the way that we communicate with predators, because there are so many more ways to communicate online than there were when we began. When we began, we used chatrooms on AOL and Yahoo! and nowadays, we have dozens and dozens of ways to communicate.
Technology has improved - for everything from the cameras to the microphones. It's a whole 'nother playing field now.
And we also have means to find out more about these people before they actually show up.
I think it's going to be a more sophisticated program. Because we'll have more space to tell the story.
Do you at all find the sheer amount of websites where adults can chat online with children, overwhelming?
Facebook, snap chat, twitter, just to count a few.
Do you think you are going to tap into all of these sources in order to bring people to justice?
Edit: You know what? I'm adding Reddit on this list of websites too.
Well, you're absolutely right that it's going to be a challenge, but we're going to use the best technology available to do just that.
Hi Chris! Big fan. I used to wake my roommate up with the "I want to wrestle you so freaking bad" soundclip over our speakers.
My question is whether doing the show has made you feel better? Obviously, you have done a lot of good getting predators off the internet, but it must be incredibly sad to interact with them and realize just how dangerous the world can be for young people
Well, that's very true.
It is sad.
But at the same time, I know that by exposing these people, we're creating a dialogue and awareness that didn't exist before. So it remains important work.
Chris, how do you choose the decoys for the show? How involved are they behind the scenes?
P.S. Here's Chris watching a friend of mine audition to be a decoy: https://youtu.be/sASeFRKHoZM
Decoys are chosen because they look young, but have the maturity to play the part in a responsible and safe way. They are only involved behind the scenes in that they need to know as much as they can about the potential predator they're going to be talking to.
What do you think of the idea that there are lots of people who think "you are the last person on earth they want to see"?
You know... I suppose, concerning what I do for a living, that could be considered an honor!
Chris -- Huge fan of your investigatory work and I'm excited for your new kickstarter project! I still watch your Dateline re-runs on YouTube and MSNBC religiously. 2 Questions.
Question (1): On To Catch a Predator, on at least one occassion/stop, didn't the majority of your suspect's cases get thrown out due to some legal technicality?
Question (2): Now that we've evolved from AOL/AIM/Yahoo Chatrooms, where is the new mainstream venue for online child predators? Dating websites? Facebook?
1.) There was only one investigation where some of the cases were not prosecuted. And that resulted from a disagreement between a police department and a prosecutor's office. The reality is some of the people who were in the investigation were arrested in similar stings later. And that former prosecutors said that every one of those cases could have been taken to court, should the prosecutor have chosen to do so.
2.) Kik... Interactive gaming, Instagram, Snapchat - anywhere where potential targets or victims could be online!