In his 30-plus-year career as an investigative journalist, Chris Hansen has had occasion to come into contact with all sorts of criminal types. But no assignment has made him as familiar a face to audiences as To Catch a Predator, the hidden camera segment-turned-series in which Hansen and a team of decoys helped to expose a parade of Internet sex predators in a series of bizarre encounters that began with chocolate chip cookies and sweet tea and ended with Hansen instructing the suspect to “have a seat.”
While reruns of To Catch a Predator still air regularly, no new episodes have been shot since 2007. But with the help of a new Kickstarter campaign, Hansen is hoping to change that and unleash a new series—the forebodingly titled Hansen vs. Predator—on the world. On Wednesday night, Hansen took part in a Reddit AMA to discuss his (hopefully) soon-to-be series and the segment that started it all.
1. THE SERIES EVOLVED FROM A CONVERSATION WITH A FELLOW REPORTER.
When asked about how the series came about, Hansen explained that, “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."
2. THE BEST DECOYS ONLY LOOK YOUNG.
In discussing how they pick decoys for the show, Hansen explained that “decoys are chosen because they look young, but have the maturity to play the part in a responsible and safe way.”
3. NO, IT’S NOT ENTRAPMENT.
When asked how he responds to those people who see To Catch a Predator as a type of entrapment, Hansen explained that, “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.”
4. HE ESTIMATES THAT ABOUT ONE-THIRD OF THE SUSPECTS TAKE THE COOKIES.
One commenter noted how odd it seems when people actually take the cookies and/or sweet tea being offered to them by the decoy, to which Hansen replied that “Probably ... 30%” of them 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.”
5. MIKE’S HARD LEMONADE WASN’T THRILLED TO BE INCLUDED.
Longtime viewers of the show might remember that many of the predators were asked to bring along some Mike’s Hard Lemonade, which didn’t sit so well with the beverage-makers. “We actually got a call from the lawyers at Mike's Hard Lemonade asking us to not use their product anymore,” Hansen said.
6. THE GUY WHO WANTED TO THROW A CAT INTO THE MIX WAS THE MOST MEMORABLE PREDATOR.
When asked about the worst scenario he ever encountered while filming To Catch a Predator—“The one that made [you] question humanity the most”—Hansen didn’t hesitate in replying, “When the guy walked in, naked ... and wanted to involve whipped cream and a cat in the sexual scenario.” (You can see the original clip here.)
7. RECOGNITION WAS THE MOST SURPRISING REACTION.
When asked about the most surprising reaction he ever received from one of his predator encounters, Hansen admitted that it was recognition. “Before I could say a word, one of them looked at me and said, ‘Oh, you're Chris Hansen,’” he recalled. “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.’”
8. THERE WAS ONE INVESTIGATION WHERE SOME OF THE CASES WEREN’T PROSECUTED.
“There was only one investigation where some of the cases were not prosecuted," Hansen explained when asked about a story that a handful of cases were thrown out due to a legal technicality. "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.”
9. THEY’VE NEVER ENCOUNTERED A FEMALE PREDATOR.
Though it was suggested that pursuing more female predators would “be beneficial” to the public, Hansen admitted that, “We never had a female predator surface in our investigation. And experts in the field say when it comes to female predators, you're more likely to see the ‘teacher/student’ scenario, as opposed to someone meeting anonymously online. Not to say that it hasn't happened, it has, but it just hasn't come up in one of our investigations. And we investigate equally.”
10. HANSEN’S FASCINATED BY THE IDEA OF A FOLLOW-UP SHOW.
Hansen thinks that making a show out of following up with the predators he has encountered in the past is "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.” He also noted that he has never been contacted by any of the men following filming.
11. HE WILL ASK PEOPLE TO “HAVE A SEAT” IN THE NEW SHOW.
When asked whether his famous “have a seat” line will be utilized in the new show, Hansen confirmed, “Yes, of course. But I'll also have some new catchphrases as well.”
12. TECHNOLOGY WILL MAKE HANSEN VS. PREDATOR DIFFERENT.
In discussing the ways in which Hansen vs. Predator will differ from To Catch a Predator, Hansen said that, “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.”
13. HANSEN IS REGULARLY TOLD TO “HAVE A SEAT.”
When asked how often he’s teased about his catchphrase and invited to “have a seat,” a chuckling Hansen said it happens “Only about 12 times a week. And it never gets tiring.”