Longtime TV journalist Katie Couric is being sued for $12 million, along with the Epix network, by the Virginia Citizens Defense League because of alleged defamation.
The gun-rights group claims Couric and Epix “manipulated the footage in service of an agenda: they wanted to establish that there is no basis for opposing universal background checks by fooling viewers into believing that even a panel of pro-Second Amendment advocates could not provide one.”
The documentary shows members of the Defense League sitting silently when asked a question about how to prevent felons and terrorists from obtaining guns legally. League members claim they answered immediately.
We’ve reported at length about the controversy surrounding the doctored interviews in Katie Couric’s recently produced anti-gun documentary Under the Gun. You can read all about the specifics regarding the allegations against Couric and the director of the film, Stephanie Soechtig here.
This story from tvweek.com says the defamation suit, which seeks a jury trial, was filed this week in Virginia federal court against Couric, Soechtig, Atlas Films, and Epix as Studio 3 Partners LLC.
A spokesperson for Epix said in the story that the claims are “completely without merit.”
“We want to set the record straight and hold them accountable for what they’ve done,” said Virginia Citizens Defense League president Philip Van Cleave in this story from the Huffington Post.
In the documentary, which premiered on Epix in May, a scene depicts the members of the VCD appearing stumped by Couric’s question: “If there are not background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons from walking into, say, a licensed gun dealer and purchasing a gun?”
The VCD members then appear to look around in silence for several seconds before the film cuts away to another topic, but audio recordings of the interview revealed they answers right away.
As we’ve reported, Couric and Soechtig have publicly admitted to editing the footage for dramatic effect, and by doing so, changing the answers of interview subjects. Couric even issued an apology. The suit claims that the filmmakers “acted with actual malice by intentionally manipulating the raw footage to create a fictional exchange that they knew never happened.”
A Huffington Post story says a spokesperson for Soechtig said the gun group was attempting to trample her First Amendment rights.
“Epix saw the Sundance screening and acquired the documentary at that time. The network had no role in its creation or production and should therefore not be a party to this lawsuit,” the spokesperson said.