It’s stunning how quickly the story dubbed “GunGate” by yours truly has spun up into a firestorm.
On Monday, the President of the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) wrote a post on Ammoland that outlined fraudulent editing in the documentary, Under the Gun. The film was directed by Stephanie Soechtig of Atlas Films (who played roles in several news networks over the course of her career), and was executive produced and narrated by Katie Couric. We picked up the story at Bearing Arms on Tuesday, and then the story exploded across the Internet on Wednesday when Stephen Gutowski of the Free Beacon juxtaposed the film’s dishonest video with VDCL’s audio of what really occurred during filming.
Under The Gun clearly and unambiguously replaced three thoughtful answers immediately provided to Couric’s questions—including one that showed why this expansion to background checks amounts to a Minority Report-type precrime already deemed unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court—with “B”-roll film that was shot during a break during the more than two hours the group sat for questions.
Numerous publications have blasted director Soechtig—who admits to deceptively editing the film—and executive producer/narrator Couric, who both seem to be under the belief that that can get away with fraud if they leak non-apologies to an entertainment blog.
Katie Couric is upset that an eight-second pause inserted into an interview she did with gun rights activists in the documentary “Under the Gun” has drawn criticism, calling the edit an “unnecessary mistake,” according to an individual with knowledge of her thinking.
The individual spoke to TheWrap and said that director Stephanie Soechtig inserted the pause, which critics are calling an example of “deceptive” and “appalling journalism.”
“This was an unnecessary mistake,” the individual told TheWrap. “It did not represent editing someone’s sentences, there was no factual error, this is not a mistake that is a substantive mistake. It could have been avoided,” he said, adding: “This was a poor decision that was made and it involves silence.”
Soechtig also spoke to TheWrap and stood by the editing choice.
“I would never misrepresent someone’s point of view and I don’t think I did by doing this,” she said. “I don’t think I misrepresented gun owners or the people featured in the film.”
In an official statement, Soechtig said, “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.”
Let’s unpack those claims.
Couric opens by giving the impression that she was unaware that Soechtig fraudulently edited the interview that Couric participated in. This requires us to believe that Couric didn’t watch either rough cuts nor the final version of the film she executive produced, never discussed a major and intentional replacement of footage with Soechtig, and didn’t remember a key point in a discussion she facilitated.
Does this pass the “sniff test” with anyone?
Likewise, Soechtig is boldly lying when she characterizes the fraud as merely “adding a pause.”
She did not add a pause at all. She completely replaced three immediate, coherent, and logical answers that pointed out the clear unconstitutionality of a position Couric and Soechtig champion, with “B”-roll film shot between takes.
Her clear intention was to misrepresent the VCDL members as not having a response to the question, when they clearly had very valid points that undermined Couric’s position.
It was a “mic drop” moment, fabricated through fraudulent editing.
At one point in the film, Couric visits with the Virginia Citizens Defense League, which advocates for the Second Amendment and is the official militia of the Free Beacon. She asks, “If there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing a gun?”
Her question is met with silence. The activists stare blankly into oblivion. Drool collects in the corners of their mouths. The pause is meant to convey the idiocy, the brutishness, the misplaced priorities and hypocritical paranoia of gun owners. Ah hah, the viewer says. Katie Couric—2009 recipient of the Walter E. Cronkite Special Achievement for National Impact award—she sure showed them! Made the yokels face the consequences of their own selfish absolutism. What a hero—a diva! Bravissima!
Yeah, well, it’s all lies.
Couric offered a clichéd argument, and her subjects responded with a rather sophisticated defense of due process and equal protection under the law. The sorts of things that liberals are known for caring about, at least when criminals and terrorist suspects are concerned. What followed is commonly described as an “exchange of views.” It lasted for several minutes. But because the conversation played against the unwritten script—in which there can be no answer for Couric’s supposedly devastating observation—the film’s editors replaced the sequence with the awkward b-roll.
Katie Couric, who worked for NBC News, CBS News, ABC News, and who currently works as the only anchor for Yahoo! News, is the executive producer and narrator of a fraudulent film. She’s attempting to assert that she had no knowledge of what was in her own film, in a segment in which she personally participated.
Does anyone honestly believe this?
Couric’s long-time collaborator, friend, and NYU Journalism School graduate Soechtig is attempting to claim that she “inserted” footage to provoke thought, when what she actually did was replace footage that had actually pointed out the unconstitutionality of Couric’s talking point. She’s asking us to believe that she didn’t discuss swapping out footage that completely changed the context of a major element of her film, without discussing it with her boss?
Does anyone honestly believe this?
Couric and Soechtig were caught committing fraud. They are attempting to cover up their fraud with obvious lies.
Both should see their careers terminated. As David French notes, Yahoo News must fire Couric as, “She has lost her credibility. Any news organization that continues to employ her loses its credibility as well.”
EPIX, the channel carrying the known-fraudulent film, should also see heads roll.
This is a major scandal on par with the Stephen Glass and Jayson Blair scandals and far beyond what saw Dan Rather’s career come to an ignoble end.
Katie Couric and Stephanie Soechtig should never work in this business again.