The season premier of Dateline NBC - To Catch a Predator (TCAP) aired last week, and it was reassuring to see Chris Hansen back in fine form, delivering with authority his trademark line:
“Hi, I’m Chris Hansen and I’m with Dateline NBC”.
To a would-be predator, hearing those nine words is tantamount to getting a gatorade shower over the groin.
You already know the script. The “adult decoy” leaves the room, and the predator is left holding a glass of fruit punch - feeling like the fool who’d hung around too long after the party was clearly over.
“Hey, you mean you’re not really gonna change into a bikini and wait for me in the hot tub?”
Oh so close, but oh so not gonna happen!
“Damn! What about this drink I poured for you? Fine, I’ll have to drink it.”
Remember that time your parents went out of town and you threw a huge party. Surprise, surprise, they cut their trip short and arrived home just when you were about to get to first base with that French foreign-exchange student from next door? (As you can tell, I’m a huge fan of bad teen movies from the 80’s).
This is what it must be like for the predator, I surmise. Yeah, just like that but imagine instead of your parents, it’s the Long Beach PD. And instead of getting grounded, you face shame and disgrace in front of a jury who are happily inspecting “evidence”, a.k.a. color photos of your genitalia.
The predator has few options when faced with such a predicament. Otherwise known as "shit outta luck".
1) Feign innocence: “I warn’t gonna do nuttin’. Juss gonna hang out”
2) Plead ignorance:
Galeano aka nismo05007 came to meet with a girl who said she was 13.
Hansen: And how old is she?
Galeano: She told me she was 16, 17.
Hansen: She told you—that she was 16 or 17?
Galeano: Uh-huh (affirms).
Hansen: You know, I read the chat log.
Galeano: Oh, you did? Touché, Hansen, touché.
(Okay, I made that last part up).
3) Deny your real intentions:
Hansen: And you know what the show is called?
Hansen: Dateline. Dateline what? "To catch a predator."
Clemente: Sir, I’m not a real predator, sir. But I’m just—
Hansen: You’re not a real predator.
Clemente: No, sir. I’m just—
Hansen: Just a pretend predator.
Clemente: No, I’m just curious.
Hansen: A curious predator
No predator is safe from Hansen’s stinging mockery.
4) Run - but that’s useless because the police were already in position! Oh, why couldn’t this have been the first season of TCAP - a friendlier season when law enforcement officers weren't participating so actively? Whyyyyy???
None of the choices holds much promise of a favorable outcome. But whatever you do, don’t say anything to invite Hansen’s biting put-downs, like these two suckaz:
Decoy: Did you bring the sandwiches?
Hansen: What kind of sandwiches did you bring?
Hansen: Chicken. And so you were just gonna come over and have a little picnic today. Was that the plan?
Salinas: I was out doing a service call. I was—
Hansen: Oh, so you had some spare time while you’re out doing a service call.
Hansen: And you thought you’d drop by and see your 13-year-old girlfriend you met online?
Salinas: Yeah, well.
Hansen: Yeah. For a sandwich.
Ouch! I don’t know what’s more humiliating. Being arrested on national television for a sex crime or suffering the host’s sarcasm, served with a side of scorn.
Mmmmm. Sandwiches. This wasn’t the first time predators have appeared bearing food. I wonder what brought it all on?
I can only assume this what a predator’s checklist must look like:
1. Condoms. Check
2. Porno DVD. Check
3. Prosciutto and mozzarella on an olive loaf with organic pesto dressing. Check.
I guess talking dirty on-line makes Jill a hungry decoy. Oh, what do you think happens to the sandwich after the pred is arrested? Taken in as evidence? Not if the Chubby Debbies from Perverted Justice have a say in the matter. I bet those gals know their way around a meatball and marinara hoagie as well as… uhmm… someone who really enjoys a meatball and marinara hoagie.
I like what the NBC producers have done with the undercover crib for 2007. Except the hot-tub. That has to go. Hasn’t the hot-tub become such a signature of TCAP that it’s setting off alarm bells in the head of any self-respecting on-line pred?
Well, except perhaps for Michael Siebert, for whom it’s a case of once-bitten, twice-“suspicious-second-time-round-but-not-enough-to-avoid-getting-caught-again”
Siebert: Are you a cop?
Decoy: No, I’m not a cop.
Siebert: I got caught before.
When confronted by Hansen, Siebert offered up this excuse:
Hansen: Thirteen. She told you she was 13.
Seibert: Yeah, and I told her to go away. But she keeps I-M-ing me back.
Oh, don’t you hate it when that happens? What must one do to stop one's on-line lady-friends from harassing one repeatedly with sexual advances? I so feel your pain!
TCAP Season 3 is off to a good start. I have a good feeling about Hansen in oh-seven. Expect him to continue serving up boner-crushing humiliation to predators across the country. You will not be disappointed.