Katie Couric has flip-flopped her stance regarding accusations that she and the director of her recently released anti-gun documentary doctored answers from an interview with a gun rights group.
We reported Friday that the director of Couric’s supposedly fair and balanced documentary, Stephanie Soechtig, took responsibility for manipulating footage of an interview with a Virginia gun rights group, replacing their answer to an important question with alternate footage that made it seem as if the group had been silenced by Couric’s query about background checks.
Soechtig told the Washington Post that she inserted silence instead of the group’s verbal answers (which were revealed in full audio of the interview) in order to give viewers a pause to consider the question, before cutting away from the interview entirely. At the time, Couric said she supported Soechtig’s statement and that she was “very proud of the film.”
Now, Couric has taken responsibility for the edit to “Under the Gun” with a message posted on the documentary’s website.
“As Executive Producer of ‘Under the Gun,’ a documentary film that explores the epidemic of gun violence, I take responsibility for a decision that misrepresented an exchange I had with members of the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL). My question to the VCDL regarding the ability of convicted felons and those on the terror watch list to legally obtain a gun, was followed by an extended pause, making the participants appear to be speechless,” she writes. “When I screened an early version of the film with the director, Stephanie Soechtig, I questioned her and the editor about the pause and was told that a “beat” was added for, as she described it, ‘dramatic effect,’ to give the audience a moment to consider the question. When VCDL members recently pointed out that they had in fact immediately answered this question, I went back and reviewed it and agree that those eight seconds do not accurately represent their response.”
Soon after Couric’s apology was posted, the documentary vanished from the streaming library of premium cable network EPIX’s website where it had been since its release on May 15, according to this story from Fortune.com.
An EPIX spokesperson told Fortune that the network did not pull Under The Gun from its site because of Couric’s statement, instead claiming that the move is part of the distribution plan the network negotiated when it purchased North American television rights to the film. She said it moved the doc “out of the premium window” as of today and that the film will now be available for purchase through transactional video-on-demand.
This skeptical post on Bearingarms.com says of the excuse from EPIX: “Couric must be as bad of a negotiator as she is an ethical journalist to only have a two-week premium run for a high profile 2016 documentary on a topic that defines the single most striking policy difference between Democrat frontrunner Hillary Clinton, who is rabidly anti-gun, and presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump, who is staking out the position of being a strong supporter of the right to keep and bear arms.”
You can view the segment of the film in question below as well as a full transcript of that question and its answers, taken from Couric’s post on the documentary’s website:
COURIC: If there are no background checks, how do you prevent … I know how you all are going to answer this, but I’m asking anyway. If there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from walking into, say a licensed gun dealer and purchasing a gun?
MALE: Well, one, if you’re not in jail then you should still have your basic rights and you should go buy a gun.
COURIC: So, if you’re a terrorist or a felon …
MALE: If you’re a felon and you’ve done your time, you should have your rights.
MALE: The fact is we do have statutes, both at the federal and state level that prohibit classes of people from being in possession of firearms. If you’re under 18 in Virginia you can’t walk around with a gun. If you’re an illegal immigrant, if you’re a convicted felon, if you’ve been adjudicated in same, these things are already illegal. So, what we’re really asking about is a question of prior restraint. How can we prevent future crime by identifying bad guys before they do anything bad? And, the simple answer is you can’t. And, particularly, under the legal system we have in the United States there are a lot of Supreme Court opinions that say, “No, prior restraint is something that the government does not have the authority to do.” Until there is an overt act that allows us to say, “That’s a bad guy,” then you can’t punish him.
FEMALE: I would take another outlook on this. First, I’ll ask you what crime or what law has ever stopped a crime? Tell me one law that has ever stopped a crime from happening.