God Damn Suit TV

What’s on TV Tonight? Humiliation to the Point of Suicide

In November 2006, a camera crew from “Dateline NBC” and a police SWAT team descended on the Texas home of Louis William Conradt Jr., a 56-year-old assistant district attorney. The series’ “To Catch a Predator” team had allegedly caught Mr. Conradt making online advances to a decoy who pretended to be a 13-year-old boy. When the police and TV crew stormed Mr. Conradt’s home, he took out a handgun and shot himself to death.

“That’ll make good TV,” one of the police officers on the scene reportedly told an NBC producer. Deeply cynical, perhaps, but prescient. “Dateline” aired a segment based on the grim encounter. After telling the ghoulish tale, it ended with Mr. Conradt’s sister decrying the “reckless actions of a self-appointed group acting as judge, jury and executioner, that was encouraged by an out-of-control reality show.”

Mr. Conradt’s sister sued NBC for more than $100 million. Last month, Judge Denny Chin of Federal District Court in New York ruled that her suit could go forward. Judge Chin’s thoughtful ruling sends an important message at a time when humiliation television is ubiquitous, and plumbing ever lower depths of depravity in search of ratings.

NBC’s “To Catch a Predator” franchise is based on an ugly premise. The show lures people into engaging in loathsome activities. It then teams up with the police to stage a humiliating, televised arrest, while the accused still has the presumption of innocence.

See my post about John Hockeberry.

And see this:

Words by the immortal Paddy Chayefsky, from his movie Network.

Explore posts in the same categories: C.O.A.T. - TV, Movie (theatre), TV, Video - DVD, Writers - Dead, Writing

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