It seems like everyone has an opinion these days, and what appears to dictate a lot of these opinions is what side of the political spectrum a person stands on. Political allegiances, for many, determine whether someone ignores crimes from one public figure or pundit or decides to brutally castigate them. The one issue that thankfully hasn't been politicized, however, is child endangerment, which was the subject of To Catch a Predator. So why did the show get canceled?
Why did 'To Catch a Predator' end? Many speculate entrapment had something to do with it.
If you aren't familiar with the premise of the show, here's how a typical episode would go down: An undercover officer posing as a minor would troll forums and chat rooms looking for pedophiles. They would then set up a time and place to meet with said local predator, usually, a house they are pretending belongs to their parents. When the predator would show up, they'd meet with the officer posing as a minor, and the officer in question would typically pretend to leave the room for something.
The perp then waits for the "minor" to return and instead of the officer coming back from whatever room they entered, it's host Chris Hansen. He informs the predator that they're on a TV show and that there's local law enforcement tracking their every move. The home that they're in is rigged with cameras and usually, the perps end up getting arrested for attempting to sleep with someone who is underage.
While there are plenty of people who are happy to see pedophiles get their comeuppances, many criticized the show for basically engaging in entrapment in order to capture said predators.
However, entrapment is a very broad term, and in order to prove that an officer is entrapping someone, it has to be proven that the cop was very forceful or aggressive in order to get someone to participate in said illegal activity.
So why did 'To Catch a Predator' get canceled? Was it really because of entrapment complaints?
The show didn't ultimately cave to criticism about "entrapment." By going to the location of their own volition to try and sleep with someone they believed to be a minor, the perps on To Catch a Predator were freely attempting to engage in illegal activity on their own. So, it wasn't really entrapment.
So why was the show actually canceled? The real reason is actually very tragic. In 2008, Assistant District Attorney in Rockwall County, Texas, Louis Conradt, was caught talking to a volunteer who was acting as a 13-year-old boy. Their conversation escalated, and Conradt exchanged photos with the volunteer, giving officers the incentive needed to invade his home since he didn't show up to the meeting he had originally planned with the person he believed to be a minor.
After breaking into Conradt's house, the Assistant D.A. immediately knew that the life and career he had constructed for himself was effectively over. When authorities charged into his house with a camera crew, Conradt grabbed a gun and shot himself.
The incident that resulted in Conradt taking his own life was a huge scandal for the show. The prospect of carrying on when there was now a very real danger of people taking their own lives on camera couldn't be ignored by production.
The show was ultimately canceled as a result despite its stellar ratings. Host Chris Hansen has recently been feature on the Discovery Plus docu-series Onision: In Real Life and discussed his involvement with us. Check out the exclusive piece here.