In 1995, Stephen Randall Glass joined The New Republic as an editorial assistant. Over the course of the next three years he progressed to high-profile feature writing, until his world came crashing down in 1998 when it was revealed that the majority of his work contained elements that were fabricated in whole or in part.
Charles Lane, who was Glass’s editor at The New Republic at the time, said of the scandal:
“We extended normal human trust to someone who basically lacked a conscience,” says Lane. “We busy, friendly folks, were no match for such a willful deceiver. …We thought Glass was interested in our personal lives, or our struggles with work, and we thought it was because he cared. Actually, it was all about sizing us up and searching for vulnerabilities. What we saw as concern was actually contempt.”
Stephen Glass was a sociopath, willing to say or fabricate anything to advance his career and his cause. The backlash against Glass has been substantial. He’s been unable to find work as a journalist, has he has no credibility. While a graduate of law school, he has not been and probably never will be licensed to practice law due to the severity of his ethical problems.
That brings us back to Under The Gun director Stephanie Soechtig, and the film’s Executive Producer/Narrator and Yahoo! News Anchor Katie Couric.
Philip Van Cleave, President of the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) wrote a post on Ammoland on Monday which revealed that Soechtig and Couric’s film fabricated a key moment of their film, and arguably defamed VCDL members in an attempt to make gun owners look stupid.
Watching the video, you hear Katie ask, “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 camera then shows the group members TOTALLY SILENT FOR EIGHT SECONDS. The camera zooms in on one member, who looks down.
The clear implication is that none of the group had an answer for that question and was being evasive and avoiding eye contact.
The truth is, and as you will hear in the audio, below, that the group responded to Katie immediately, with answers to her question! Yet the video shows no one responding. Clearly, when Katie didn’t get the answer(s) she wanted, she changed the group’s answers by replacing them with other video of the group sitting around quietly between questions.
Ladies and gentlemen, when a journalist such as Couric and a director such as Soechtig spend more than two hours filming a group of citizens, and then start slicing and dicing the audio and video of that encounter to intentionally craft the illusion that the group did not have a ready and immediate response to a question, that is nothing more or less than willful and malicious fraud. It’s defamation. It’s libel.
This wasn’t a matter of artistic license. This wasn’t even a matter of bias.
This was a clear and deliberate misrepresentation of what the Virginia Citizens Defense League members said in response to this question, and Couric and Soechtig were dumb enough to do it when VDCL had audio recorders rolling to catch them.
Let me be crystal clear: this unashamed fabrication from Couric and Soechtig isn’t just highly unethical, it may be criminal, as it appears to meet the widely understood definition of defamation in general and libel in specific.
At this moment, Epix, a “joint venture between Viacom Inc., its Paramount Pictures unit, Lionsgate and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (MGM),” is refusing to pull Couric’s defamatory film from their documentary channel, and instead insist that people should watch the film to draw their own conclusions. They seem to be ignoring the reality that the film’s forged responses from VCDL make it impossible for a fair conclusion to be drawn. It make take customer outrage (that link is a hint) to force this apparently libelous and definitely unethical film off the air.
Eyes will also be upon Yahoo! News, who features Couric as their sole “anchor.” If Yahoo! News wouldn’t hire serial fabricators Stephen Glass, Jayson Blair, or Brian Williams, then they must terminate their association with Katie Couric, who not only participated in fraud, but whom refuses to apologize for her actions. They must fire Couric, immediately.
Katie Couric was once “America’s sweetheart.” She’s now proven herself to be the same sort of lying sociopath we saw during Stephen Glass’s fall, and she should never be thought of as employable as a journalist ever again.