Dateline NBC’s Chris Hansen assassinates Detroit

I don’t guess anybody has ever referred to Dateline NBC as a ‘news’ program recently, at least not with a straight face, at least not for quite some time, so the more I’ve thought about it the more I’ve come to understand that this is most likely the reason why the producers of this show opted not to break any new ground when Dateline Big Dog reporter Chris Hansen aired his piece on Sunday night’s April 18 episode focused on the trials and tribulations of Detroit: “America Now: City of Heartbreak and Hope”.

Hansen has received all sorts of  glowing, gushing accolades for various reporting exploits throughout his career. The one most familiar to viewers  is his “To Catch a Predator” series of pieces which targeted online sexual predators. I always thought the series was more about Chris Hansen than it was about catching any predators, but maybe that’s just me. Anyway, he did win two Emmys for a piece he did in 2004 on child sex trafficking, so he does deserve some props I suppose.

Saying all this to say that when you take a glance at the guy’s track record you might get an initial sense that he is probably pretty good at what he does. And considering the fact that Hansen grew up in the Detroit area, there were some of us who made the fatal mistake of being hopeful that Homeboy Hansen might at least try to present a balanced portrait of what is going on with Detroit in his Sunday night piece. Because if that had happened then, truly, it would have been breaking news of epic proportions. Because no one ever reports the full story of Detroit.  Which is why, for the past 40 years, we have essentially been reading the same continuously looping story  that we have all gone to hell and there is no hope for us, the damned of the ‘D’. The ‘D’ is, in truth, Dante’s Inferno.

So even though I happen to know for a fact that Homeboy Hansen was led on a four-hour hand-held tour through Detroit by ARISE Detroit! President and founder Luther Keith, a tour which included the terrifying and appalling as well as the hopeful and the beautiful, Hansen just couldn’t bring himself to tell the whole story when all was said and done. Not even when he was presented face first, up close and personal, with both sides of the tale. Because the shocking and the horrid, after all, does offer much better visuals. Hell, why bother letting viewers meet middle and upper-middle class Detroiters who live in areas such as Rosedale Park, Palmer Woods, and Indian Village when you can show blasted out, boarded up catastrophes? Why interview the well-spoken when you can feature an elderly gentleman who shoots local  raccoons for food with a rifle and then sells the meat to his neighbors? I mean, seriously, which do you think makes for more entertaining viewing?

So I get it. After all this time it’s hard not to get it. Infotainment is the best you can hope for with most so-called television ‘news’ magazines. The nightly headline news isn’t much better, local or national. But even in the cotton candy realm of infotainment I would have thought that offering up something relatively new might have some appeal. But no. Instead what we get is Homeboy Hansen pasting a new wig on top of a 40-year-old headline and then labeling it intrepid journalism.

To say that the piece was a hit job would be accurate, but it still would not completely define the damage Hansen’s little urban  journalistic adventure has done to our city. Because who in their right minds would want to invest in the future of Detroit after seeing that? What Hansen did was willful and deliberate character assassination of an entire city. It’s slander. Hansen knows he and his camera crew possess the full story amidst the discarded ruins of their unused footage, but instead of writing the full story Hansen decided to construct his piece before he ever set foot in Detroit. Hansen planned this hit job well before his arrival, which begs the question why he bothered coming back ‘home’ in the first place? The man could have patched that crap together from past hit jobs – better done hit jobs – and then faxed that shit in from wherever he was on the road.

Because wherever you are today, Homeboy, there are a considerable number of us in Detroit who would prefer that you stay there and make it your ‘home’. Because if home truly is where the heart is, then it’s quite obvious your heart has been absent from the ‘D’ for quite some time. Go home, Chris. And stay there.

SHAMELESS PLUG: Read my wife’s blog @ The “D” Spot Redeux

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~ by Keith A. Owens on April 21, 2010.

6 Responses to “Dateline NBC’s Chris Hansen assassinates Detroit”

  1. well put..could agree more

  2. couldn’t agree more, i mean! 🙂

  3. Chris Hansen TOLD THE TRUTH!!!

    And a 4/26/2010 news story subsequently reported in the Detroit Free Press, in parts, validates what Chris reported.

    ” Downtown Detroit crime on upswing”
    Patrols added as car thefts jump 83%
    BY AMBER HUNT
    FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

    Downtown Detroit, touted as one of the safest areas in an otherwise crime-plagued city, has seen a sharp increase in crime so far this year, a Free Press review of crime data show.

  4. I agree with you, Chris Hanson is a sensationalist. He’ll exploit whatever he thinks will give him the highest ratings, regardless of its relative significance.

    I didn’t see the Dateline piece, but I have no doubt that it was not balanced. I also have no doubt that it did not sugar-coat some of Detroit’s issues. We, in the metro region, need to recognize that and pull together to get beyond those. Spending much energy on the so-called inaccuracies of the Dateline report distracts us from actually addressing our regional concerns.

  5. “…the damage Hansen’s little urban journalistic adventure has done to our city.”

    Really? Hansen has “damaged” Detroit? Really?? Really!!?? It’s time to face the facts and realize the unions and politicians set this city on it’s current course decades ago. Chris Hansen (and I’m no fan) only reported what is the majority of what’s going on in Detroit. I can honestly say that I thank my parents every day for moving from this hell-hole in 1958!!!

  6. have a women saying that she want to come from acuura to michigan and me to secure 25 million usd and im supoosed to secur it for her and meet a diplomat yea right he called ask me to give him $950 to send this suit case lol!!i have his name number and hers ty if you get this!!!

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