The Untold Truth Of Chris Hansen

Chris Hansen's career has been nothing short of sensational. The reporter whose name is synonymous with NBC's long-form investigative journalism show Dateline has had a colorful run in the spotlight filled with scandals involving both his professional endeavors and his personal life.

Hansen shot to fame with his signature Dateline segment, To Catch a Predator, but he's actually done much more than nab alleged sexual offenders. As a 2015 Time piece on the reporter revealed, since joining the Dateline staff in 1994, Hansen really began "[stretching] his legs as a TV journalist," covering almost "any major news story of the previous two decades." From the Unabomber scandal, the impeachment of Bill Clinton, to reporting 9/11, Hansen was there. "He is truly one of the country's best crime reporters," declared Henry Schleiff, head of Investigation Discovery to the Detroit Free Press. And how does the journalist handle dealing with such heavy-hitting topics? "I'm able to separate it, compartmentalize it," Hansen told the same outlet, adding, "It's what I've always done."

While he's definitely been able to divide work from home to a certain degree, it's not always so straightforward. We've dug deep, from Hansen's beginnings as a reporter to the snowball-effect of his controversial personal decisions and how they've affected his life on camera. This is the untold truth of Chris Hansen.

To Catch a Predator was Chris Hansen's idea

Chris Hansen was already a veteran reporter at NBC before Dateline's To Catch a Predator segment was created. As it turns out, he was the mastermind behind it, too. "It was my idea," mused Hansen to City Pulse in 2009. "I was on the phone talking to a friend of mine ... about this online watchdog group ... I was thinking, 'Wow, if we could combine their ability to work as decoys in chat rooms and our ability to wire a house with hidden cameras and microphones, it could be pretty compelling,'" he recalled. However, the NBC alum did give the rest of the show's production team credit, saying, "A lot of other smart people weighed in and figured out ways to improve the concept and we went out and shot the first one." 

Sure enough, TCAP was a bonafide mainstream hit. It even got spoofed on South Park, which is perhaps the height of pop culture awareness. As Hansen explained to the Daily Beast of the show's success, "I think what we do is we take people into a world that they've never seen before."

Before his time at NBC, Hansen's first job was as a reporter at Channel 10, where it looks like his attraction to a climactic line of work also began. As the journalist told City Pulse, his most memorable day was at a riot in the Michigan State prison. "As a young reporter, it was wild to see."

Chris Hansen is an award-winning investigative reporter

Chris Hansen has done much more than utter his infamous To Catch a Predator catchphrase, "Why don't you have a seat right over there." In fact, throughout his entire career, Hansen has racked up quite the number of awards for his investigative reporting. 

According to the Dateline alum's bio on the network's website, "Hansen has received numerous awards including eight Emmys for investigative reporting, outstanding coverage of a news story and outstanding coverage of breaking news. He has received the Overseas Press club award, an IRE, the National Press Club award and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists Award. Hansen has also received awards for excellence in journalism from both the Associated Press and United Press International," among others.

However, with all his success has come some controversy, too. According to Hansen's bio page on NBC News, the journalist was once detained in India where he went to uncover "the realities of how prescription drugs are approved." If that's not all, he's also been engulfed in ethical contention at TCAP, with some critics describing the show's method of luring so-called predators as "entrapment." So, what does the journalist have to say to all the naysayers? "I think we raised awareness and created a dialogue that didn't exist before," Hansen explained to Time. "We created compelling television, and I think we exposed a lot of bad people ... if the old-guard journalists have a problem with that, then so be it."

Jimmy Hoffa inspired Chris Hansen to pursue journalism

A very specific moment in Chris Hansen's life triggered his desire to become a crime reporter. Of course, it was just as sensational as you would expect. "When I was 14 years old, Jimmy Hoffa was kidnapped from a restaurant, the Red Fox, that was about 1 1/2 miles up the street from where I lived," the Dateline host told City Pulse. "I used to ride my bike up there and the FBI was up there and it was a crime scene and there were local police and local news reporters; I got bit by the bug watching that."

Time's 2015 profile of Hansen offered even more insight, recounting that the young journalist would see big-time network reporters arrive from New York City due to Hoffa's disappearance, sparking his desire to do the same thing. "From that moment on, this is all I really wanted to do. It was the excitement that this major event had happened, although tragic, and that I could go watch it. It was all Detroit was talking about."

With Hansen's determination came a little luck, too. As he revealed to City Pulse, when he went to Michigan State University, he had the full intention of becoming a journalist. Majoring in telecommunications, the future NBC correspondent lucked out and simply "[walked] onto the campus radio station at the beginning and started as a news reporter."

Chris Hansen helped revive Dateline

Before Chris Hansen shocked viewers with his controversial To Catch a Predator segment on NBC's Dateline in 2004, the network was doing alright, yet still battling to maintain more viewership than its competitors, such as CBS, for example.

Thanks to Hansen's idea of developing TCAP, however, NBC suddenly started enjoying "[rejuvenated] ratings for the network's Dateline NBC newsmagazine," according to The New York TimesAs for the numbers? The same outlet reported that in addition to being "a boon for MSNBC ... which replays episodes in prime time and on weekends," 11 episodes from the show's 2006-7 season attracted "an average of 7 million viewers, compared with 6.2 million for other Dateline programs."

So, how does Hansen feel about being associated the most with TCAP? After all, he's done other types of investigative reporting for NBC, such as chasing down bike thieves and Nigerian internet scam artists. "I'm comfortable with that," he told City Pulse, while also musing, "I had no idea when we did the first one it would get so much attention nor did I think we'd do some 12 investigations, over 30 hours of television and write a book about it. I thought we'd come back with me taking a nap on the kitchen counter like the Maytag repairman."

He's proven that investigative reporting can be dangerous

There's no denying that going undercover as an investigative journalist can come with its own set of risks — both for the reporter and the accused. One episode of To Catch a Predator, in particular, came with some serious controversy. According to Esquire, in 2006, Bill Conradt, a potential predator, stopped responding to messages sent out by Chris Hansen's team of decoys. The solution? Getting the police involved, then heading over to Terrell, Texas, where Conradt lived, in an attempt to interview him. Tragically, the whole production was halted when Conradt committed suicide with both the police and the TCAP crew outside his home.

The whole disaster of the sting operation caused a massive controversy for NBC and resulted in a settlement with the victim's family. So, did Hansen take any of the blame? The Columbia Journalism Review (via The Ethical Journalist: Making Responsible Decisions in the Pursuit of News), reported that Hansen "felt bad" about the tragedy "on a human level," however, his exact quote was: "If you're asking, do I feel responsible, no. I sleep well at night." 

NBC pulled the plug on TCAP the following year. A decade later, Hansen reiterated his position on Conradt's death to Vice. "It wasn't comfortable," he said, adding, "We've been absolutely transparent about our methodology—who the decoys are, where the police are, etc. ... There has always been a debate about shaming in enterprise journalism. I'm not the moral arbiter of society."

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

Chris Hansen makes innocent people nervous

You don't have to be a predator to feel uneasy having Chris Hansen around. In fact, because of his association with To Catch a Predator, the investigative reporter has become a total pop culture icon amongst the masses, with his face instantly recognizable.

Speaking to, Hansen revealed some pretty hilarious situations where the Dateline cameras were nowhere to be found. "One time, I was buying a gift. The guy is showing it to me, and he's sweating profusely from the forehead. And I said, 'You alright? Is everything good?' And he said, 'Yeah, you don't have a hidden camera on me right now, do you?' [I said], 'No, I'm just trying to get a last-minute gift for Christmas!'" If scaring the general public wasn't enough, Hansen has also been found on TV — and not just hosting the once-popular show. Appearing everywhere from The Daily Show, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and even getting spoofed on MADtv, Hansen was clearly the beloved face of NBC.

By 2019, it looks like Hansen is still profiting over the fact that he's essentially meme-material — especially after falling on some hard times that same year. As the AV Club revealed, the reporter now recites his famous catchphrase "for $50 bucks a pop on Cameo," resulting in some pretty hilarious videos available for viewing on Twitter.

Did Chris Hansen's affair cause NBC to dump him?

Along with canning To Catch a Predator in part due to the controversy over Bill Conradt's suicide, NBC also decided to ditch Chris Hansen in the years to follow. The irony of it all? It turned out that the TCAP host dedicated to bringing justice was the one getting caught in an affair.

According to RadarOnline, the scandal began in 2011, when the National Inquirer turned the tables on Hansen and undertook its own sting operation, resulting in photos of an "alleged date with Kristyn Caddell, a 30-year-old TV news reporter for WPTV 5." By July of 2013, RadarOnline published three pictures of Caddell and Hansen — provided by the mistress herself. A month later, Hansen was let go, with NBC releasing this admittedly vague statement to TV Guide: "Chris has been a valued member of the team and we thank him for his many contributions to Dateline and NBC News over the last 20 years."

Releasing the photos to the paps wasn't the only thing Caddell did, however. Penning a letter to the National Inquirer, the TV news reporter wrote that Hansen's marriage was already in disarray, and that "the wedding ring on his finger was all but for show." She went on, "None of it was being done secretively or concealed from the public," with Hansen flying her "all over the country," and paying for the "finest hotels." Chris Hansen, why don't you take a seat over there.

Chris Hansen was evicted after his wife filed for divorce

Things only seemed to go from bad to worse after Chris Hansen got outed by his alleged mistress, Kristyn Caddell. While nobody knows what went on behind closed doors with Hansen's marriage of 30 years, after news of his affair went public, his wife Mary Joan Hansen finally filed for divorce in June of 2018.

According to court documents obtained by RadarOnline, Mary Joan claimed that "the marriage has broken down irretrievably," requesting alimony and "a fair division of property and debts." What's more, at the time of the filing, the tab also claimed Chris and Mary Joan "were already living separate lives" as indicated by Mary Joan's "residence [being listed] in a different state from that of her husband." Yikes.

A messy divorce wasn't the only unfortunate situation Chris was dealing with, as by January of 2019, the once-respected journalist was also evicted from his home. According to TMZ, who obtained legal documents, "the former host of To Catch a Predator last paid rent in August 2018, but was $400 short, and stopped sending checks altogether after that." So, was the NBC alum completely broke? Well, not quite.

A bounced check landed Chris Hansen in the tabs again

Chris Hansen simply couldn't catch a break with the tabloids in 2019, and getting evicted and dumped by his wife wasn't the last of his misfortunes. In fact, he started 2019 with a bang when, in January, the former To Catch a Predator host was arrested, too.

As revealed by NBC, Hansen was detained after "he allegedly wrote bad checks to a vendor he owed money to." According to Stamford Police Sgt. Sean Scanlan, the journalist actually turned himself in after a warrant was issued for his arrest "on charges he wrote bad checks for $13,000 worth of marketing materials." As it turned out, In the summer of 2017, "Hansen bought about $13,000 worth of promotional items, like hats, shirts, and mugs from a local company, and paid for them with a check that bounced." Shortly after his arrest, Hansen was "released without bond and a written promise to appear in court."

Sure enough, Hansen went to court, and a week after his arrest was in the clear. Per E! News, his attorney, Philip Russell, declared that his client had "made good" on the payment, causing the prosecutor to withdraw the charges. 

How did Chris Hansen stage his comeback?

Chris Hansen didn't wait around for his affair scandal and tarnished reputation to fester for long. Instead, he jumped right into putting his past behind him. In an interview with Time in 2015, Hansen declared he was ready for a comeback, which is lucky considering cable channel Investigation Discovery approached him with the idea for a new show: Killer Instinct with Chris Hansen

Instead of dealing with predators, Hansen would be going undercover talking to criminals with stories that "have not yet been widely investigated." In the profile, Time gave Hansen high praise, writing, "As an interviewer, Hansen still ranks. He excels in getting subjects to open up." Another win for Hansen? The fact that Investigation Discovery general manager Kevin Bennett agreed on Hansen's qualifications, telling the outlet that Hansen's sacking at NBC "didn't give us a moment of hesitation." 

However, the reporter still wasn't done with his comeback. In 2015, he also launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a web series called Hansen vs. Predator. Clearly, his fans were still around, as Hansen gained $89,068 of his $75,000 goal. By 2016, the nationally syndicated series Crime Watch Daily took Hansen on to be its host, renaming the show Crime Watch Daily with Chris Hansen. According to Fox13, part of the deal meant a new segment for the series: Hansen vs. Predator — the exact one that the TCAP alum was planning on doing on his own. 

Chris Hansen, the YouTuber

Although none of Chris Hansen's To Catch a Predator successors reached the same level of fame as the iconic Dateline segment itself, Hansen certainly hasn't given up. In fact, he's focusing on targeting a new generation — on YouTube.

Having created his own channel, Have a Seat with Chris Hansen, in 2019, the legendary investigative reporter still does what he does best, except this time around, he's exposing so-called predators on YouTube itself. In just four months, Hansen acquired over 300,000 followers on the platform. His first subject? Comedy YouTuber and Twitch user Gregory Jackson, known as Onision, who has allegedly attempted "grooming" his underage fans. A peek at Hansen's uploads sees the journalist collecting evidence and talking to victims on the video-sharing site, and, at the time of this writing, still hasn't stopped trying to get in touch with the controversial social media celeb.

According to Tubefilter, by January of 2020, Onision was banned from the video game streaming platform Twitch, yet only time will tell if his ban will spread to YouTube, as well. And considering Hansen's history and reputation as a bulldog investigator, we have a feeling there's no chance he'll quit until he gets Onision to at least take a seat, right over there.