The 10.3 million viewers who tuned in for Chris Hansen's May 10 “Dateline” special, the sixth in the series “To Catch a Predator,” saw a would-be statutory and animal-rapist, clad only in an NBC-provided towel, leave a house as five uniformed police officers cut him off in the driveway and a sixth, camouflaged, burst from the shrubbery and tackled him to the ground, says the New York Observer, which calls Hansen “TV's perv-hunter.” He said: “We prefer to call them 'potential predators.” Each sting is identical. Perp makes himself comfortable and, instead of the expected teen, Hansen emerges. “Do you want to explain yourself?” he asks. “It's fascinating and sad,” he says. But “it's captivating.”
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist credited Dateline with bringing online child predators to his attention. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales cited a Hansen reports in an April 20 address. Says the Observer about the series: “It may be showy at times. It may be a tad exploitative. It may even be indistinguishable from reality television. “But there is a solid journalistic element to each one of these things,” said Hansen.