Kudos to Brian Ross, ABC News’ chief investigative reporter. He’s shining the spotlight on another news media outlet, a practice rarely seen:
Mr. Ross had never watched an episode of [NBC Dateline’s] “To Catch a Predator” until this summer. But he grew interested in the story when a group of fellow reporters alerted him to the tragedy surrounding a sting operation that the show, coordinating with local police, had carried out in Murphy, Texas, outside of Dallas. During filming, one of the operation’s targets had committed suicide rather than face exposure on national television. To make matters worse, the local prosecutor eventually dropped all charges against all 23 would-be pedophiles caught on camera, citing flaws in the joint NBC/police investigation.
Mr. Ross was intrigued. “People said, ‘You’ll never go after NBC.’ I said, ‘Well, we’re not going to go after NBC. But we are going to take a look at this.’”
The show, which aired Friday night, used outtake footage, never aired by NBC, to detail the intimate working relationship that Dateline forged with the local police chief’s office, and the extent to which the show’s production requirements influenced police procedures—ultimately leading to the collapse of the D.A.’s case.
The press keeps an eye on the government, but who keeps an eye on the press? Nice to see Ross picking up the mantle.