Here Is the Reality: Media Experts Say 'Bait Car' TV Show Is Not Real Journalism

Categories: Crime
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The Reality of Reality TV
On truTV's 'Bait Car' Monday night, the San Francisco police busted alleged car thieves on camera: a 15-year-old kid who had never driven before, a homeless man who rifled around for loose change in the glove department, and a man who told the cops that he was already on felony probation for stealing a car.
 
In today's cover story, we wrote about the SFPD's first major foray into reality TV. With former Police Chief George Gascon's permission, the police teamed up with Hollywood-based KKI Productions to conduct a live car theft sting on camera. KKI paid the SFPD more than $200,000 in overtime and donated the two specially equipped bait cars to the department after the show.


But now that the show is profiting from airing the busts on TV, KKI is putting up a fight in court, refusing to turn over evidence that might help acquit the suspects. KKI claims it doesn't have to hand over footage subpoenaed by the defense attorneys, citing the state's shield law for journalists. The producers of the show claim they are documenting police during their routine duties, similar to a reporter taking notes during a ride-along with police.

Media experts aren't buying it. In addition to paying the subjects it is filming, KKI also agreed to allow the police department to preview all the episodes and veto any segments it doesn't want aired. 

"It's not an independent piece of journalism," says Al Tompkins, a broadcast TV specialist at the Poynter Institute, a school for reporters. "When you contract with the government, government starts telling you what to do. And if you're an arm of the government, you fall under subpoena just as the government would, just as police department records would. In effect, [those tapes] are police department records." 

In the end, San Francisco judges decided last week that provisions of KKI's own contract surrendered its shield law defense. 

Meanwhile, some of the footage is being aired on cable TV every Monday night. It seems as though not only defense attorneys are unamused by the SFPD's 15 minutes of fame on reality TV. One cop (who wasn't quoted in our story and asked his name not be used) wrote SF Weekly this morning: "Dumbest cop show ever. We make huge fun of it."

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12 comments
xdeon26x
xdeon26x

Stupid show! A friend recently had his car taken by another acquaintance. Because my friend had left the keys in the car, the local police said they couldn't charge the acquaintance with car theft. That's what they do on the show, yet they still take them to jail (supposedly.) If it is real, its entrapment. Just makes me hate cops more than I already do!

Ronn715
Ronn715

This is what I found to be fake. They are chasing a blue  Honda Civic Coupe....which is a two door car. All of a sudden the chopper above is supposedly following that car....but the thing is, the car is a blue Honda Civic SEDAN   a four door. I saw the same thing happen again on another car. So now what...are we supposed to believe this show?

Iswdesign
Iswdesign

I think its a great show and idea. It is actually reporting what happens so the professor is a dumbass as far as I'm concerned. The crime rate on cars has come down so that is a good thing. Must have been a liberal that wrote this crap article. 

Dencilharrison
Dencilharrison

Angrily opposed to this show. Why do they overpolice the black community and 75% of the folks are black. Why doesn't this happen in other neighborhoods. It only perpetuates that African Americans steal but I don't, and I could name over a 100 people I know that don't also. This show only plays into stereotypes whether black or white. We are in the 20th century and steal dealing with racism and crippling our growth for the sake of rogue entertainment

Stwilli2
Stwilli2

We are also in the 21st century. Just thought I would get you up to date...dumbass

Town2small
Town2small

They are simply putting the bait car in high crime areas, whose fault is it that the high crime area is the area that blacks live? why is it that the only time you hear anyone yelling racism, the one yelling it is blacks? The racism card has been over played. seriously, give it a rest

BillyBEAT
BillyBEAT

LOL riiiiight. They park them in the hood cuz that's where cars get stolen, look up the statistics. You park it in a white neighborhood and it wont get stolen. Not racism just facts.

benj38
benj38

@buckley.joyce Sir, you just contradicted yourself saying that to Town2small. There are whites, blacks, hispanics, asians who live in low income communities. You just made an assumption blacks only fit in the 'hood'. This isn't true - if they bait a car in a random area with high crime, it's not about race or ethnicity but the individual who stole the car. I advise you get your facts straight before posting such absurd allegations.

buckley.joyce
buckley.joyce

@Town2small Well Mr. why do you think the blacks are in bad areas of town, don't just look at the surface, you have to go way way back when everything first started and never changed. As for the race card, it has never disappeared and never will. They just can't mark the fountains WHITE ONLY and BLACK ONLY any more. But trust me, racism is alive and well .Paint your face brown for one day and see.

kuramathe9tailsfox
kuramathe9tailsfox

@buckley.joyce i see plenty of white douches steal them on this show, but it is stats that determine where they put  the trap

buckley.joyce
buckley.joyce

@BillyBEAT Maybe they should park it in the white hood. I bet some bad white teenager will go for it. The police just haven't given that a try. I guess there are no whites in jail or prison, right LMAO!!

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