Katie Couric produced an anti-gun documentary titled Under the Gun which was released last year. The biggest reaction may have been from the pro-gun voices featured in the film.
Couric assembled a pro-gun panel in studio. She asked them “how do you prevent felons from purchasing firearms?” The former CNN PA edited their answer. She removed their response and substituted a long period of silence, filmed before the interview. It made the pro-gun side seem both literally and figuratively dumb. As if they didn’t have an answer.
And yet, a judge in Virginia has thrown out a defamation lawsuit against Katie Couric saying that the act was neither false nor harmful. From the Hollywood Reporter:
The film, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, provoked controversy because of one scene in particular. In it, Couric asks gun rights advocates, “If there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing a gun?”
Under the Gun shows those being interviewed in nine seconds of silence.
In response, the Virginia Citizens Defense League attempted to make the case that this pregnant pause was defamatory. In a complaint filed in federal court, the group and its members alleged that the “manipulated footage falsely informed viewers that the VCDL members had been stumped and had no basis for their position on background checks.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Court judge John Gibney, Jr. shredded the complaint and granted a motion to dismiss.
“The plaintiffs’ defamation claims fail because the interview scene is not false,” Gibney writes. “Under the Gun portrays members of the VCDL not answering the question posed by Couric. In reality, members of the VCDL did not answer the question posed by Couric. They talked about background checks and gun laws generally, but did not answer the question of how to prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing guns without background checks. The editing simply dramatizes the sophistry of the VCDL members.”
Let me translate the judge’s decision: “I didn’t like the VCDL member’s answer. I think they are dumb. The documentary makes them look dumb. Therefore I’m going to allow it.”
The fact of the matter: Katie Couric asked a question, and then edited a completely different response from her subject. That’s the exact opposite of what a proper journalist with any shred of credibility would do.
If the VCDL’s response doesn’t make sense then let the audience see that for themselves and come to their own conclusions. If we apply this judge’s opinion to the rest of the movie then the judge seems to have been perfectly happy to have Katie Couric replace every single pro-gun answer they didn’t like with pure silence.
That’s not a documentary. That’s something Leni Riefenstahl would have been proud to produce.