Accuracy in Media

Katie Couric’s recent documentary on gun violence in America, “Under the Gun,” has come under fire for deceptive editing that made gun rights activists appear stumped by one of Couric’s questions.

Couric attended a gathering of the Virginia Citizens Defense League and asked the group this question:

“If there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorist from walking into, say, a licensed gun dealer and purchasing a gun?”

The activists were then shown looking at each other, and at the ground, for about eight seconds without ever answering the question before the film moves on to another topic.

But in an audio recording obtained by The Washington Free Beacon, it is clear that the group’s members responded to Couric right away and spoke at length about this issue.

After word of the deception spread, the documentary’s director, Stephanie Soechtig, issued the following statement:

“My intention was to provide a pause 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.”

The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple Blog found Soechtig’s statement completely unsatisfactory:

“In the years we’ve covered and watched media organizations, we’ve scarcely seen a thinner, more weaselly excuse than the one in the block above. For starters, it appears to count as an admission that this segment of the documentary was edited. The artistic ‘pause’ provides the viewer not a ‘moment to consider this important question;’ it provides viewers a moment to lower their estimation of gun owners.”

In order to create the “dramatic pause,” Soechtig spliced in footage from the documentary when the activists were silently listening to Couric.

Couric issued a statement that said she stood behind Soechtig, and that as the executive producer she was very proud of the film.

This incident should serve as a reminder of how anti-gun the liberal media are and to what lengths they will go to to make their case for more gun control.

UPDATE: Couric issued the following apology on May 30:

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.

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.

VCDL members have a right for their answers to be shared and so we have posted a transcript of their responses here. I regret that those eight seconds were misleading and that I did not raise my initial concerns more vigorously.

I hope we can continue to have an important conversation about reducing gun deaths in America, a goal I believe we can all agree on.

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