- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A Virginia gun-rights group is suing Katie Couric and the producers of the documentary “Under the Gun” for $12 million in defamation over an interview that was revealed to have been deceptively edited.

The Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) and two gun-rights activists featured in the film, Daniel Hawes and Patricia Webb, are suing Ms. Couric, who produced the documentary and led the interview in question, as well as director Stephanie Soechtig, Atlas Films and Epix, the film’s distributor.

The suit filed in federal court Tuesday, obtained by BearingArms.com, claimed the producers of the film “intentionally manipulated” footage to make it look like members of the VCDL were stumped when asked about gun background checks.

The lawsuit seeks compensatory damages of $12 million and punitive damages of $350,000 per plaintiff, as well as an injunction against further distribution of the edited footage.

Ms. Couric and Ms. Soechtig faced a wave of backlash this summer after raw audio of the interview between Ms. Couric and the VCDL proved that the group was not accurately portrayed in the documentary. Ms. Couric apologized for the misleading editing, but Ms. Soechtig defiantly stood by her artistic license.

During the interview, Ms. Couric asked members of the VCDL, “If there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing a gun?”


The film showed the activists sitting in silence for eight seconds, apparently unable to come up with an answer, before it cut to a different scene. Raw audio of the interview revealed that the activists responded immediately and debated for more than four minutes. Second Amendment supporters expressed outrage over the edit, saying it was done deliberately to embarrass the activists.

Ms. Soechtig responded at the time, “If I wanted to make them look bad, I would have focused exclusively on their radical ideology. But I didn’t do that. I wanted to allow them an opportunity to explain their beliefs. In hindsight, had I known that the NRA would focus on eight seconds of a two-hour film, I might have done things differently. But I made the creative decision and I stand by it.”

Tuesday’s lawsuit claimed that the documentary still contains the manipulated footage, yet “the Defendants continue to promote and publish the film.”

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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