Katie Couric sued for $12 million over misleading gun doc edit

Katie Couric of ABC News speaks during the 2011 Washington Ideas Forum at the Newseum in Washington, DC, October 6, 2011 (PHOTO: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Katie Couric of ABC News speaks during the 2011 Washington Ideas Forum at the Newseum in Washington, DC, October 6, 2011 (PHOTO: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia Citizens Defense League, a non-profit group dedicated to protecting gun owners’ rights to bear arms, has filed a $12 million lawsuit against Katie Couric and the producers of a 2016 documentary on gun violence.

The group claims the way filmmakers edited an interview with Virginia Citizens Defense League members made them look foolish.

“We were horrified to see how Couric and her team manipulated us and the video footage to make us look like fools who didn’t stand up for the Second Amendment,” Philip Van Cleave, President of the VCDL, said. “We want to set the record straight and hold them accountable for what they’ve done. You shouldn’t intentionally misrepresent someone’s views just because you disagree with them.”

Last May Couric said she regretted a “misleading” portion of the 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.

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.

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.

According to the complaint, the VCDL alleges filmmakers “knowingly and maliciously manufactured the fictional exchange by splicing in footage that the
filmmakers took surreptitiously after telling the interviewees to be silent for ten seconds so that recording equipment could be calibrated.

“The filing also contains side-by-side screenshots of the film’s footage of the VCDL members and anti-gun advocates, alleging that the filmmakers manipulated lighting to cast shadows on the VCDL members and to make them appear sinister and untrustworthy.”

Click here to see video and audio provided by the VCDL legal team.

The defendants have not yet commented about the legal filing.