Some ideas are perfect. I wish I had come up with this myself, but the credit goes to Jeff Cohen, journalist, now at Ithaca College. High points:
Here's my idea: A series of NBC News primetime specials featuring spectacular ambushes of big-time criminals lured into what they expect to be pleasurable surroundings. But, with hidden cameras whirring, the startled villain is dramatically confronted with the evidence of his massive crimes as millions of viewers look on in scorn and righteous amusement.
If it sounds familiar, it's because NBC News has scored huge ratings with its "To Catch a Predator" sleaze-fest - in which potential sex offenders by the bushel were lured via the Internet to what they thought would be sex with kids and instead got caught by NBC cameras and cops in hiding.
But my proposal doesn't involve sex abusers. I'm talking about men who've launched illegal war, mass murder, torture, dictatorship. And they're household names.
Coming to NBC next week: "To Catch a Cheney." Next month: "To Catch a Kissinger."
How do you lure such big names to an NBC News lair for their ambush interview? You simply invite them.
Given the soft treatment they've received over the years, they'll come running quicker than a Net perv to Lolita. Trust me: the element of surprise is on NBC's side -- since these uber-officials are confident their crimes will remain eternally off-limits.
To lure Dick Cheney from his undisclosed location, NBC's "To Catch a War Criminal" producers could pretend to be booking "Meet the Press." Cheney has been as comfy on that show as Alec Baldwin on "Saturday Night Live." It came out under oath in the Scooter Libby trial that Vice President Cheney's office viewed "Meet the Press" as "our best format," a program in which Cheney could "control the message." Putting him on that show, testified his communications chief, "was a tactic we used often."
It was on "Meet the Press" after 9/11 that Cheney warned: "We have to work the dark side, if you will. We're going to spend time in the shadows."
So Mr. Dark Side shows up at NBC studios expecting another puff job, and instead is confronted on camera with witnesses, documents, victims of his various war crimes. It's riveting television and real journalism as his violations of the Geneva Conventions of War in matters of torture and kidnapping are detailed.
The program climaxes big-time with Cheney cross-examined about Iraq and his lead role in committing the ultimate war crime (as described by the Nuremberg tribunal): launching an unprovoked attack upon another country.
Now that’s television I’d watch.