Katie Couric takes responsibility for “misleading” part of gun violence doc
Katie Couric says she regrets a “misleading” portion of “Under the Gun,” a new documentary that she produced and narrated.
“I take responsibility for a decision that misrepresented an exchange I had with members of the Virginia Citizens Defense League,” Couric said in a statement on Monday night.
The pivotal edit in the documentary made a group of gun rights activists seem stumped by one of Couric’s questions. The edit was exposed by a blogger last week.
During the interview for the film, Couric asked, “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 documentary shows the group members silently looking around for about eight seconds. But an audio recording proved that the interviewees responded right away.
The edits were made by the documentary’s director, Stephanie Soechtig, but Couric — one of the best known journalists in the United States — bore the brunt of the criticism for it.
Last Wednesday, when Soechtig initially addressed the controversy, Couric said she supported Soechtig’s statement and was “very proud of the film.” As pressure mounted over the holiday weekend, Couric decided to say more.
In a four-paragraph statement on Monday night, she acknowledged that the edit wrongly made the activists “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,” Couric said.
But the “dramatic effect” fundamentally distorted the scene. Ammoblog, which published the audio recording of the actual interview, said that “the group responded to Katie immediately, with answers to her question! Yet the video shows no one responding.”
Ammoland’s blog post was amplified by the Washington Free Beacon web site, triggering Soechtig’s initial response to the controversy. She said last Wednesday, “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.”
Soechtig added, “I never intended to make anyone look bad and I apologize if anyone felt that way.”
An assortment of media critics and conservative writers thought Soechtig’s statement was not sufficient.
Couric, on Monday, said that she “went back and reviewed” the interview, and “agree that those eight seconds do not accurately represent their response.”
The web site for the documentary posted a transcript of the group’s answers. There is no indication, however, that the documentary will be adjusted.
“I regret that those eight seconds were misleading and that I did not raise my initial concerns more vigorously,” Couric said.
Her statement concluded, “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.”