Dateline NBC’s “To Catch a Predator” series is receiving serious criticism.
The network has been named in various lawsuits, one in which program is blamed for an Assistant District Attorney’s suicide and another has a former “Dateline producer accusing the network of firing her because she questioned the show's ethics.”
The program “lured would-be child-sex predators to a public shaming, delivered by a handsome host. Ratings, awards and even praise from members of Congress followed.”
Esquire magazine released an account of the program on August 14th and that describes a chain of events that eventually led to Dateline airing video recorded from outside a man’s house while he shot himself in the head. The article suggests that Dateline is guilty of overstepping the boundaries of reporting and questions whether or not the program achieves the stated intention of getting predators off of the Internet.
This spring, Esquire magazine sent a reporter to Murphy for a three-month investigation into Mr. Conradt's death. The resulting article accuses Dateline of manipulating the Murphy police.
The magazine also accuses Murphy police of rushing search and arrests warrants to accommodate Dateline and includes criticism of the Terrell police for entering the prosecutor's home.
Prosecutors have since said they could not prove they had jurisdiction over many of the cases – that either the Perverted Justice decoy or the suspect was in Collin County when the crime was committed.
And according to Esquire, prosecutors believed the arrests may even have been illegal. In each case, police had done little or no investigation prior to the men showing up at the house. Instead, Esquire said, they simply arrested the men who emerged after receiving a signal from the Dateline crew inside.
According to Esquire, Mr. Roach said: "The Murphy Police Department was merely a player in the show and had no real law enforcement position. Other people are doing the work, and the police are just there like potted plants, to make the scenery."
NBC officials declined to comment on the lawsuits, other than to say they have no merit and the network intends to vigorously defend itself. NBC is very proud of the show, Mr. Corvo said. "So if we have to tolerate some inaccurate accusations now and then, we'll do it."