- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 1, 2017

Katie Couric and others associated with the anti-gun documentary “Under the Gun” have been cleared in a $12 million lawsuit over an allegedly deceptive interview edit that a Virginia gun-rights group said amounted to defamation.

U.S. District Court Judge John Gibney Jr. on Wednesday granted a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed in September by the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) and two gun-rights activists featured in the 2016 film, Daniel Hawes and Patricia Webb.

The plaintiffs suedMs. 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, claiming the film “intentionally manipulated” footage to make it look like members of the VCDL were stumped when asked about gun background checks.

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 later 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.

Judge Gibney said Wednesday that the edit didn’t rise to the level of defamation.

“The plaintiffs’ defamation claims fail because the interview scene is not false,” he wrote in his opinion, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. “Under the Gun portrays members of the VCDL not answering the question posed by Couric. In reality, members of the VCDL did not answer the question posed by Couric. They talked about background checks and gun laws generally, but did not answer the question of how to prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing guns without background checks. The editing simply dramatizes the sophistry of the VCDL members.

“At worst, this shows artistically that they either cannot or will not answer the question. Their verbal responses during the interview showed the same thing,” he wrote. “Either way, not having an answer to a question on a difficult and complex issue is not defamatory. It does not lower these plaintiffs in the estimation of the community to the extent and with the sting required.”

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