Back in September, Katie Couric was facing defamation charges for her anti-gun documentary, Under the Gun. The documentary was cut in a way that made the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) look as though they were unsure of their answers to Couric’s questions.
The lawsuit arose from one particular part of the documentary, where Couric poses the following question:
“If there are no background checks how do you prevent – I know you all are going to answer this, but I’m asking anyway – if there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from walking into say a licensed gun dealer and purchasing a gun?”
Her attorneys attempted to have the case thrown out but the lawsuit stuck.
A judge finally ruled in the case and found there were no harmful implications resulting in the editing.
U.S. District Court Judge John Gibney, Jr. dismissed the case, with the following written ruling:
The plaintiffs’ defamation claims fail because the interview scene is not false. 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.
The first two alleged defamatory implications do not arise from the film,” he concludes. “The film does not suggest that they do not have a basis to oppose background checks or are ignorant about gun regulations and rights. Rather, the film makes a different point about the effect of existing regulations on how to keep guns out of the wrong hands.
Not having an answer to a specific question about effective alternatives to background checks does not imply anything about fitness to own a gun store and to sell guns,” responds the judge. “Webb argues that the footage falsely conveys that ‘she lacks knowledge regarding integral aspects of her business,’ specifically, knowledge about ‘background checks and the rights of individuals to purchase firearms.’ This argument fails because it seeks to introduce new matter, which innuendo in the defamation context cannot do. Couric did not ask ‘Under the current law, can felons purchase firearms?’ Falsely stating that Webb did not have an answer to that question would certainly imply unfitness in her trade. This, however, was not Couric’s question.
The judge’s full opinion can be found here.
It appears Couric’s ‘under the gun’ is above the law.