Chris Hansen

May 17, 2013

I'm Chris Hansen from Dateline NBC. Why don't you have a seat and AMA?

Hi, I'm Chris Hansen. You might know me from my work on the Dateline NBC segments "To Catch a Predator," "To Catch an ID Thief" and "Wild #WildWeb."

My new report for Dateline, the second installment of "Wild, #WildWeb," airs tonight at 8/7c on NBC. I meet a couple vampires, and a guy who calls himself a "problem eliminator." He might be hit man. Ask me about it!

I'm actually me, and here's proof:

So have a seat and fire away, Reddit. I'll bring the lemonade and cookies.

EDIT: I have to step away and finish up tonight's show. Thanks for chatting... hope I can do this again soon!

Although everyone that has been on To Catch A Predator has been an ephebophile, do you remember one specifically that you felt bad for? If so, why?

Edit: Pedophile was changed to Ephebophile because there's a difference.

Well, yes there were a few sad characters, who I thing were first time offenders. Those are the guys who usually got probation and probably will never do it again.

Chris Hansen! in To Catch A Redditor

edit: thank you for the gold!

Clever! I should hire you.

Hello Mr. Hansen. Please, have a seat and make yourself comfortable. Now for my question:

Has there ever been a situation on “To Catch a Predator” that has made you say “what the hell is wrong with this world”?

(Oh god he has a chair for us..... and cookies)

When the man in Ft Myers, Florida brought his 4 year old son along it was among the most disturbing things I have seen in my career.

What do you think of the parodies that have been made of your show and image?

Specifically, the "Have a seat" meme, and your appearance in South Park.

I have two sons who have grown up with a dad on tv, so it's no big deal to them. But, when that South Park episode aired, I was finally cool.

Chris, thanks for doing this. Was there any point in the show when you were genuinely scared?

One time in Florida, A guy who was a cop was headed to our house. Never made it, because he was stopped by police. He had a .38 in his pocket, and assault rifle, shotgun and another pistol in his car along with 800 rounds of ammo. I think we dodged a bullet on the one.


We did some 30 episodes and we update and re-air them on MSNBC. I think it might be time to get out and do some more.

What is your favorite part of your job? Least favorite?

I have what I think is the best job in the world. To investigate and expose the things like in tonight's Wild Wild Web show is great because we take the viewers real time on the same journey of discovery we are on. I have a wonderful, energetic team and I never get tired of heading out on the road with them. May 24 will be 20 years for me at NBC.

Did you ever catch anyone that you knew personally on the show?

Wouldn't that be something. Fortunately no.

Although you've covered an immensely wide variety of stories and topics on Dateline, what would you say was your favorite topic to cover?

When we went under cover in Cambodia to expose child sex trafficking, it resulted in 37 children being rescued. Four years later I re-visited 4 of the girls. An amazing and rewarding experience.

What would you do during all that extra time waiting for the next guy to show up to a sting? I've seen a few episodes where there were two guys showing up at almost the right time, but I have to imagine that they don't all show up right after another.

Yes, we have waited up to 8 hours without a visitor. Usually I would study transcripts and prepare for the guys we thought were coming.

Have you ever delved in to the darker areas of the web, or even Reddit? I'm sure you have, but I guess what I want to know is do you know what things like Tor and the Onion network are, where things reportedly go bump in the night?

Probably something we should look into.

Is it alright if I call you Chris Handsome?

For a man of my age, I'll take it any time.

Is there any advice you can give us all for the best ways to spot a child who is being abused and/or an adult who is criminally abusing someone?

If a child is suddenly withdrawn or being secretive about computer usage, you need to pay attention. Also if a web cam or cell phone shows up and you didn't buy it, that's a bad sign. It's one way predators start the grooming process.

how do you deal with criticism that the predators were goaded into and led on to be offenders?

Our decoys never made the first move. The predator always did. And the profile made it clear that the child/decoy was under age.

Given your experience covering this issue do you have any suggestions for how "rehabilitated" sex offenders can be better reintegrated into society following their incarceration?

Sex offenders fall into different categories. Some can be rehabilitated with treatment and monitoring, some can't. Problem is, in our society, we want a one size fits all solution and it doesn't exist. It's not a glamorous medical practice, so there are far too few people in the field working on it.

I have to ask. Was there ever anyone that wasn't actually a predator, but trying to get on the show to meet you?

No, but there were some guys who recognized me right away and said they watched the show all the time.

You've caught pedophiles, con men, and identity thieves. Who's next on your hit list?

Well tonight it will be vampires, swindlers and a hit man, among others.

When catching your first predator what was going through your head?

were you scared?

Absolutely. My heart was in my thought. I was actually wondering if anyone would actually show up. Next thing you know, they were running into each other.

Chris, what did you do before you started working at NBC?

I was a reporter in Detroit, Tampa and Lansing, MI.

Hi Chris! I don't have a question, but can you say hi to me? I'll think of a question in the mean time.

Hey there. Thanks for checking in.

I got bit by the bug early. Jimmy Hoffa was kidnapped about a mile from my house when I was 14. I used to ride my bike up to the crime scene to watch all the reporters and law enforcement officer working. That's when I decided I wanted to be a reporter.

Hi Chris,

Did you have fun doing that Emmy intro a few years back with Conan (2006 I believe)? Word on the street is he's a pretty funny guy...

It was a blast and Conan is a super cool guy.

what did you think when you found the first vampire?

I was skeptical, figuring it would be someone who was just into vampire movies and TV shows, but he was the real deal and wanted to drink human blood for "energy"

How'd you get so handsome?

Good make up:)

Hey Chris Hansen. Thanks for being here!

I really hope you can get to my questions! The state of journalism over the past 15 - 20 years has been a major concern to me, and I'm hoping someone from the inside could give some insightful, candid answers.

First off, I have enormous respect for Scott. Investigative reporting is sometimes expensive, difficult and dangerous. I am fortunate to work in an environment where this work is supported. Would I like to have a hundred person team? Yes, but I make the best of what I have. The Comcast folks have made a solid commitment to investigative reporting and it's starting to bear fruit.

Why did you think this was okay? (for those who won't click, its about the daycare owner who Hansen outed)

Well, if you had a child in that day care center, wouldn't you want to know the background of the people running it? I even gave him the opportunity to do a later sit down interview about his new life and how he's changed, so that people could hear his side of the story. I flew to Florida and hired a TV crew to shoot it and he didn't show.

How do you feel about not getting the approval to purchase the Sonics?

I wish I had THAT Chris Hansen's money!

Is Scott Hansen on NFL Redzone your brother? You guys have striking similarities.

No, but I get that all the time. He seems like a great guy.

It is impossible to read your responses without hearing your voice. Is that your natural speaking voice? Or is it a trained broadcast voice?

All natural. You'd be surprised to know that past news directors actually tried to get me to change it.

You once came to my school, Saint Louis University, and interviewed with my good friend, Mark.

Just the other day I asked him, "hey did you get a haircut?" He replied, "No - just styled, Chris Hansen pro-tip." So my question is - whats the secret to that hair my man?

Keep it neat.

This interview was transcribed from an "ask me anything" question and answer session with Chris Hansen conducted on Reddit on 2013-05-17. The Reddit AMA can be found here.