Reports that Ryan Jenkins — the murder suspect featured on the VH1 shows "Megan Wants a Millionaire" and the upcoming "I Love Money" — was found dead in Canada shouldn't allow the producers or the network to weasel out of further explanation for their apparent failure in vetting their "talent."
VH1 simply punted responsibility to the production company, 51 Minds, which as The Washington Post's Lisa de Moraes reported, put out a mealy-mouthed, "Golly-Gee-How-Did-This-Happen" statement that read as follows:
51 Minds was not aware of Ryan Jenkins' record when it cast him
on "Megan Wants a Millionaire." Obviously, if the company had been
given a full picture of his background, he would never have been
allowed on the show.
The company did have in place what it thought was a thorough
vetting process that involved complete background checks by an outside
company for all contestants on its shows. Clearly, the process did not
work properly in this case.
All well and good, except that's asking us to simply trust that the company's process has worked properly in the past, or that, indeed, it even employs rigorous vetting. That's hard to believe here, since there were plenty of warning flags that Jenkins was a sleazebag. And VH1 can't simply hide behind the "We didn't produce it" defense, since the network is ultimately responsible for what it airs.
The bottom line is that while this story is going to cool now that the manhunt phase is over — as TMZ moves on to some fresh outrage — VH1 and 51 Minds need to be transparent about what went wrong if this case was indeed an anomaly and must demonstrate how the "problem" has been corrected.
As I said the first time I wrote about this, an old adage comes to mind in this world of seeking outlandish characters to feature in unscripted TV shows — namely, the warning that when you lie down with dogs, you run the risk of getting up with fleas.