If anyone has a tape of this show you can send please contact me about a trade.
This one time special was produced by John Langley and became his calling card to sell Cops to Fox.
Articles | Pictures
Live on the Vice Beat
By Richard Zoglin Time 12/22/86
A squad of sheriff's deputies storm a duplex suspected of being a base for drug dealers, batter in the front door and burst inside. The place is empty, except for a bewildered woman in cutoff shorts. "Put it on the wall, lady," shouts an officer, pushing her against the paneling and placing her under arrest. But she is released two days later when the police cannot provide evidence linking her with a quarter-gram of cocaine found in the apartment.
That fizzled bust was not unusual except for one feature: it was seen on national TV. The raid, in the Houston suburb of Channelview, was one of three drug busts telecast live to 141 stations on a two-hour syndicated special, American Vice: The Doping of a Nation. The program, with Geraldo Rivera as host and producer, has drawn fire from journalists and police officials alike for its sensational reporting tactics.
The flap marks the second embarrassment this year for Rivera, the gonzo journalist who departed from ABC News last year. In April Rivera was host of another special, The Mystery of Al Capone's Vaults, in which the gangster's secret cache was opened on live TV, only to reveal a few dusty bottles. (The show, nevertheless, was the most watched syndicated special in history.) The Doping of a Nation (which also drew high ratings, ranking No. 4 on the all- time list) was another example of Rivera's jugular journalism. Taped segments included scenes of undercover police nabbing coke buyers; addicts shooting up and corpses being pulled from the water; and even Rivera himself, disguised in sunglasses and a red bandanna, posing as a drug buyer.
Most dramatic were the live dope raids, monitored by Rivera from a New York studio. All were real police operations, conducted under legal search warrants and coordinated so that they could be shown during the telecast (8 pm EST). But one man arrested in a raid on a house in San Jose was released two hours afterward, when he turned out to be living there temporarily. (The renter of the apartment was arrested later, off camera.) The Texas raid got a big buildup from Rivera (the authorities, he said, were after "a pimp and his prostitutes...this dude and his ladies" who were allegedly dealing dope to truckers). But the woman arrested, Terry Rouse, claimed she had been living at the duplex for only a week, and charges were dismissed by Texas District Judge Donald Shipley. She is planning to file suit against the police and possibly Rivera and his production company as well.
Rivera points out that the raids were legitimate police operations that would have taken place even without the cameras. "We were covering the law enforcement (officers) doing their job," he says. "It was their event, not ours." Complaints against the show, Rivera contends, come from journalists who dislike his aggressive and emotional reporting style. "I'm not afraid to get down and dirty," he says. "I'm not afraid to be passionate."
The Miami Vice antics of Rivera's show highlighted concerns about the increasingly common practice of letting TV crews tag along on drug raids. A search warrant, says Judge Shipley, does not give police "permission to put the whole nation into somebody's house with TV cameras." Some police officials object that the cameras, lights and onlookers can jeopardize safety. Nor is TV merely an eavesdropper. During one raid on Rivera's show, an officer could plainly be heard to make a telling, and disturbing, inquiry: "We are still live?"
Geraldo introducing the show
Archived 2001-09 by Alex Thrawn for Cops on Fox