Nearly four months after her documentary enraged a Virginia-based gun rights group, Katie Couric now faces a $12 million defamation lawsuit.
In the documentary “Under the Gun,” the former “Today” show host and “CBS Evening News” anchor asks members of the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL), “If there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing a gun?”
The question is followed by a long pause with members shown sitting in silence.
“It looked like we were either ashamed or didn’t have an answer, when really we were fine and had some really well articulated answers, never made it,” VCDL president Philip Van Cleave said this past spring.
According to BearingArms.com, the VCDL says “that the filmmakers knowingly and maliciously manufactured the fictional exchange by splicing in footage that the filmmakers took surreptitiously after telling the interviewees to be silent for ten seconds so that recording equipment could be calibrated.”
“The filing also contains side-by-side screenshots of the film’s footage of the VCDL members and anti-gun advocates, alleging that the filmmakers manipulated lighting to cast shadows on the VCDL members and to make them appear sinister and untrustworthy.”
Couric, who initially said she stood by the film’s producer and director Stephanie Soechtig, said in June that “I take responsibility for a decision that misrepresented an exchange I had with members of the Virginia Citizens Defense League.”
Soechtig previously said the pause after the question was added “for the viewer to have a moment to consider this important question before presenting the facts on Americans’ opinions on background checks. I never intended to make anyone look bad, and I apologize if anyone felt that way.”
“It was a two hour interview, and one of the questions was purposefully edited to completely change how the answer was,” said Van Cleave. “The answer was, you can’t stop them, and background checks aren’t what people are told that they are. They’re not as good as people think they are.”
“I regret that those eight seconds were misleading and that I did not raise my initial concerns more vigorously,” Couric said this spring.