Tuesday, May 29, 2007

NBC TV Producer Fired After Criticizing Exploitation TV

In a scathing broadside at NBC's popular "To Catch a Predator" series, a former producer charges that she was canned last year after complaining that the show violated "numerous journalistic ethical standards" and many of the network's own "policies and guidelines." In a breach of contract lawsuit, Marsha Bartel, 49, alleges that her 21-year career at NBC ended months after her August 2006 appointment as "sole producer" of "To Catch a Predator," which conducts sting operations targeting men seeking illicit liaisons with children they've met online. According to her complaint, which was filed last week in U.S. District Court in Chicago, Bartel charges that many of the program's ethical lapses stem from its relationship with Perverted Justice, a shadowy vigilante group that the show uses to "troll for and lure targets into its sting."

A copy of Bartel's lawsuit can be found below. According to Bartel, by paying Perverted Justice, NBC has given the group a "financial incentive to lie to trick targets of its sting." The identities of the group's 50-plus volunteers were kept secret from her, Bartel says, adding that Perverted Justice does not provide "complete transcripts from its trolling operations," so network officials "cannot independently verify the accuracy" of the group's transcripts. In some instances, Bartel claims, sting targets are "led into additional acts of humiliation (such as being encouraged to remove their clothes) in order to enhance the comedic effect of the public exposure of these persons."

Child predation is a terrible thing. I was flipping the channels a few weeks ago, and "To Catch a Predator 7" was on. At this point, it is not about informing the public (if it ever was), but making a carnival show out of very sick men who want to do terrible things to children. Now, this producer's allegations make the effort seem even dirtier if that was possible.

Perhaps, NBC can run variations on this show on people who want to rape grandmothers, kill baby kittens, or vote Republican. Seriously though, at one point does somebody else at NBC say ratings be damned, we are being exploiters, and informative journalism is being left in the wayside?