The right to bear arms is a hot topic with escalating gun violence serving as a catalyst in the issue of who should be able to own firearms, and while each side debates their own position before the American public, it seems Katie Couric has proven that the camera isn’t always as unbiased as the media purports. In fact, a recent debate on Couric’s documentary, Under the Gun, has been manipulated, presumably to make gun rights proponents look bad.
Under The Gun Documentary Attempts To Make the Virginia Citizens’ Defense League Look Ignorant
The documentary seemed like a good opportunity to explore key issues from both sides of the gun rights issue and using Katie Couric, a journalist with a reputation for reporting issues with a non-biased, straightforward manner, seemed like a great way to separate fact from fiction. Things took a turn for the worse, however, during the editing process, when directors and producers for Under the Gun decided to insert a pause at a key point in the documentary.
At one point in Under the Gun, a question was posed about background checks in relation to the purchase of firearms. During the recording of the segment, the question and the subsequent answer provided by members of the Virginia Citizens’ Defense League came off without a hitch, but, following the editing process, the segment had a very different feel. Under the Gun producers and directors had a silent moment inserted between the question and the answer. The result was that the Virginia Citizens’ Defense League seemed ignorant and uneducated about the laws.
“That was not a tough question,” Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens’ Defense League, said. “That was not a question that our members would not know the answer to. It’s kind of like sins of omission.”
The segment in dispute revolves around Couric posing the question, “If there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing a gun?”
The Under the Gun finished film shows nine seconds of silence following the question, as the camera focuses on members of the panel fidgeting and looking away from the camera. The unedited version, however, features Ms. Couric asking a more involved question about background checks and getting immediate responses from the panel members.
“One, if you’re not in jail,” says the first man to respond, “you should still have your basic rights, and you should go buy a gun.”
“So if you’re a terrorist or a felon?” Couric prods.
“If you’re a felon, and you’ve done your time, you should have your rights.”
Following this exchange, several other panel members also voiced their own answers to Katie’s question. The audio recording doesn’t contain a pause or a nine second period of silence at any point in the interview.
Under The Gun Producer Stephanie Soechtig Responds To Accusations Of Altering The Documentary
Upon learning of the controversy surrounding Under the Gun, producer and director Stephanie Soechtig issued a statement of her own volition, explaining her reasoning in inserting the pause. The producer acknowledges that the documentary allows for the expression of many different viewpoints on gun rights and ownership, but many question whether Soechtig was really apologizing or simply defending her editing choices.
“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,” explained the Under the Gun director. “I never intended to make anyone look bad and I apologize if anyone felt that way.”
Many are wondering how Katie Couric, the documentary’s host, felt about adding that pause, and, at first, it would seem Couric fully supports the editing decisions made by the director.
“I support Stephanie’s statement and am very proud of this film,” Ms. Couric said in a statement.
While it may seem Ms, Couric’s integrity is compromised in this instance, an anonymous source has come forward to explain that Katie did, in fact, object to the pause, upon viewing the pre-release video.
“Katie questioned the pause, but the director made the decision to use it to lead into the discussion of the hole in background checks,” said the Under the Gun source.
Whatever Katie may be telling the public, it seems she was not as comfortable with the decision as she would imply.
[Image by Rabbani and Solimene Photography/Getty Images]