Sunday, November 12, 2006

Dateline NBC Layoffs in Wake of Suicide Scandal.

In the wake of the recent suicide scandal involving Dateline NBC and the vigilante group, NBC has announced layoffs for 17 Dateline NBC staffers. Attrition will account for further reductions in the NBC system.

In total, NBC plans to lay off 700 staffers.

The recent scandal involving Dateline NBC has been a turning point for a program that has increasingly come under fire from legal scholars, journalist scholars, various law enforcement agencies, and hundreds of individual ‘bloggers.

In Murphy, Texas, a sting related to Dateline NBC’S program, “To Catch a Predator”, ended in the suicide of Lewis Conradt Jr. Conradt had not been charged with a crime, yet had been contacted by operators from the vigilante group Perverted-Justice. When Murphy police came to the Conradt residence with a warrant to sieze his computer, Conradt shot himself.

Until the chat log is examined, there is no evidence available that Conradt had committed any crime.

The vigilante group involved, Perverted Justice, has a well known history of “doctoring” chat logs, adding commentary, changing profiles of their operators after the private conversations are concluded, and initiating private chats.

On the Murphy Messenger web site, a poll being conducted has residents split fairly even on whether they approve or disapprove of the recent sting. The founder and owner of Perverted Justice, in response to Murphy residents criticism of the sting operation, has labeled critics “elitist pricks”.

With the recent layoffs at Dateline NBC, the suicide in Murphy, Texas, and increasing opposition to both televised stings and vigilante organizations, it is highly likely that the “To Catch a Predator” series is in its last days.