A new Katie Couric documentary advocating gun control was deceptively edited to make Second Amendment supporters look foolish, audio released by the supporters shows.
In “Under the Gun,” Couric asks a group of gun rights supporters, “If there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing a gun?” The documentary filmmakers spliced in footage of the activists sitting silently for nine seconds. One man looks down, seemingly uncomfortable, during the awkward silence. The documentary then moves on to the next scene of a cylinder on a revolver being closed.
Couric documentarians fabricated this moment, using footage from a session that was unrelated to the question asked. In fact, according to audio of Couric’s interview provided by the gun rights activists, they all rushed to respond to to Couric, providing answers based on principle and practical concerns. “Well, one — if you’re not in jail, you should still have your basic rights,” said one of the gun owners. Others responded as well.
You can watch the offending section — and hear the actual audio that was spliced out — here. It’s a stunning betrayal of journalistic ethics.
Couric should have disclaimed the documentary and publicly acknowledge her error. Instead, the film’s director Stephanie Soechtig indirectly admitted she spliced in false footage when she 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.
This mealy mouthed mush was described as an apology at CNN while The Washington Post openly mocked the “apologize if” construction of the response. Erik Wemple of the Post added that he’d never seen a “thinner, more weaselly excuse” than the one proffered by Soechtig. For her part, Couric said “I support Stephanie’s statement and am very proud of the film.”
Wemple says that’s nowhere near good enough and concludes, “An apology, retraction, re-editing, whatever it is that filmmakers do to make amends — all of it needs to happen here.”
Of course, this type of cut-and-splice “journalism” is common these days. Journalists have been praising “The Daily Show’s” use of deceptively edited interviews for as long as “The Daily Show” has deceptively edited them. Pretty much every time we hear that some cable comedian has “destroyed” some outgroup or the views the outgroup holds, that’s thanks to deceptive editing.
A few other things are worth noting here. One is how media outlets praised this faux-documentary prior to this particularly egregious example of manipulation. The AP’s story by Lynn Elber was headlined, “Gun violence gets more nuanced, probing coverage.” I’d hate to see something non-nuanced or non-probing! The article goes on to say the documentary “examines…