Katie Couric apologized for a misleading edit in the documentary Under the Gun that made interviewees feel they looked like “idiots.”
As iMediaEthics previously reported, Couric was the executive producer for, and one of the interviewers in, the documentary on gun rights and gun control. Virginia Citizens Defense League president Philip Van Cleave complained because a lengthy pause was added between Couric’s question to his group and their answers, which he said made them look bad. The question was “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?”
The VCDL’s president Philip Van Cleave told iMediaEthics by phone that the apology “only made it worse,” because the transcript of the VCDL responses she included cuts out many responses that he said are “really damning to her cause.”
“Why didn’t she just put the four minutes [of audio responses] up, let it be what it be,” instead of posting a partial transcript, he asked.
He acknowledged Couric “has finally taken responsibility” but complained that the VCDL wasn’t contacted. “She puts up an apology, but doesn’t bother to contact us,” he said. Further, he pointed out the apology doesn’t say if the film will be edited to remove the misleading pause so many people will see the documentary not knowing about the problem.
The director of the documentary, Stephanie Soechtig, responded that the pause was intended to highlight the question.
“I take responsibility for a decision that misrepresented an exchange I had with members of the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL),” Couric said in a statement on the Under the Gun website. “My question to the VCDL regarding the ability of convicted felons and those on the terror watch list to legally obtain a gun, was followed by an extended pause, making the participants appear to be speechless.”‘
Couric said she asked the director Soechtig about the pause during a screening but Soechtig said it was for “dramatic effect.” After the VCDL complained about the nearly ten-second pause, Couric said she looked at the segment again and agreed with their complaints.
“When VCDL members recently pointed out that they had in fact immediately answered this question, I went back and reviewed it and agree that those eight seconds do not accurately represent their response,” Couric said in her statement.
In addition to her apology, Couric posted the transcript of the VCDL responses to her question. “I regret that those eight seconds were misleading and that I did not raise my initial concerns more vigorously,” Couric wrote.