Chris Hansen Is Still out There Catching Predators but Now It's on His Own Terms (EXCLUSIVE)

Chris Hansen revisits old episodes of 'To Catch a Predator' on his podcast. On occasion, he even revisits an actual predator.

Jennifer Tisdale - Author

Jun. 4 2024, Published 3:21 p.m. ET

Chris Hansen attends the Calvin Klein And GE Capital Honored At Dignity U Wear Gala on Oct. 8, 2013
Source: Getty Images

Before I hopped on a video chat with Chris Hansen, I decided to revisit a few episodes of To Catch a Predator. It was just as harrowing as I remembered, but what I found the most disturbing was how calm most of these men were. They arrived at a house after chatting with someone they believed was an underage girl, often bringing things like condoms and cookies, with the intention of engaging in sexual activities with a minor.

Article continues below advertisement

That would all come to a screeching halt when Chris would emerge from a different room, urging the gentleman in question to "have a seat." Though the series only lasted four seasons, its impact is still felt today, and Chris has never given up on the work that has made him both loved and hated.

My conversation with him vacillated between informative, insightful, heartbreaking, and even funny. It's easy to have a seat next to Chris Hansen if you're sitting for the right reasons.

Chris Hansen (L) and Mario Lopez visit 'Extra' at Universal Studios Hollywood on Aug. 22, 2016 in Universal City, Calif.
Source: Getty Images
Article continues below advertisement

What is Chris Hansen up to now? Thankfully, it's the usual.

Something I think about often is, when does crime become true crime? I'm not entirely sure I have the answer, so I put it to Chris, who said he doesn't really see a huge difference between the two apart from how you convey the information.

"For me, it's always been very much trying to bring the viewer along on this journey of discovery," said Chris. That journey started 20 years ago when he pitched a story about online predators to Dateline, which eventually became To Catch a Predator.

Chris revealed that one of his fears regarding the series was that no one would actually come, and while that would technically be a good thing, it would ultimately help no one if he couldn't show the rest of the world what he already knew to be true: The internet could be a scary place.

Over the course of two days, 17 men would arrive during the filming of the first episode — one of which was a New York firefighter, and Chris would learn a valuable lesson: People needed to see how an actual crime was committed.

Article continues below advertisement

To this day, Chris is still doing that via his own streaming network, TruBlu. And while he is eternally grateful to everyone who has helped him along the way, Chris loves the freedom of bringing his ideas to life with far fewer hoops to jump through. To answer my original question, Chris says it's all true crime.

When it comes to investigative reporting, he views it more as enterprise reporting. "How do we best tell the story? How do we bring the viewer inside the story," he asked. "That's what it's all about."

Article continues below advertisement

He also joined the robust world of podcasting via Predators I've Caught With Chris Hansen, which takes a look back at episodes of To Catch a Predator and includes updates. Someone like Chris undoubtedly needs a way to process things he's experienced, and he told me that the podcast is a form of therapy for him. It allows Chris to get everything out of his system in a way that is "very intimate" because of his connection to the listeners. Of course, he also does a fair amount of compartmentalizing.

Revisiting the past has certainly helped Chris Hansen today.

It's not often that a person gets to face their demons, but Chris's podcast has occasionally given the men he helped catch that very opportunity. When one of the so-called predators decided to reconnect with Chris, the experience was very revealing.

He recalled one man who, after Chris left a message on his voicemail, called him back and swore at Chris profusely.

Article continues below advertisement

After hanging up, he called back 10 minutes later and was decidedly more calm. Chris spoke with him for 20 minutes, during which time he was very heartfelt and took full responsibility for his actions.

"It was fascinating," said Chris. "He talked about his time in prison, what happened with his personal relationships with his family, and how it's hard to get a job. It was very loud and very true. I think he was being honest with me." The podcast really opens a door for what we hope people will do, and that's change.

Article continues below advertisement

After such a heavy conversation, I gave Chris permission to regale me with an amusing story about his work. Some people might think such a thing is not only impossible, but disrespectful, but I disagree. Gallows humor exists for a reason, and I'm of the mind that the human brain craves levity, especially in the face of trauma. Thankfully Chris had a quick and wild story at the ready.

chris hansen now
Source: Instagram

Chris (far right) with NewsNation hosts Dan Abrams and Jesse Weber.

Article continues below advertisement

In a recent investigation, Chris had finished up questioning a man who was in handcuffs and waiting to be taken away by law enforcement.

"Everybody's just standing around when he spontaneously says, to the camera, 'Well, I don't know if I could have done anything anyway,'" the man said to Chris. "Why is that?" Chris asked. According to this fella, he was cleaning his gun one day when he accidentally shot his own penis. He said that straight to Chris and to the camera.

The conversation ended on an even higher note when I asked Chris something I was always wildly curious about. I needed to know how many times in his life someone has said to him, "Have a seat."

Laughing, Chris said that at this point it's somewhere in the thousands, which makes sense. When you catch predators, you better have a good catchphrase.

More from Distractify

Latest Human Interest News and Updates

    Opt-out of personalized ads

    © Copyright 2024 Distractify. Distractify is a registered trademark. All Rights Reserved. People may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.