A new Katie Couric documentary advocating gun control was deceptively edited to make Second Amendment supporters look foolish, audio released by the supporters shows.
In “Under the Gun,” Couric asks a group of gun rights supporters, “If there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing a gun?” The documentary filmmakers spliced in footage of the activists sitting silently for nine seconds. One man looks down, seemingly uncomfortable, during the awkward silence. The documentary then moves on to the next scene of a cylinder on a revolver being closed.
Couric documentarians fabricated this moment, using footage from a session that was unrelated to the question asked. In fact, according to audio of Couric’s interview provided by the gun rights activists, they all rushed to respond to Couric, providing answers based on principle and practical concerns. “Well, one — if you’re not in jail, you should still have your basic rights,” said one of the gun owners. Others responded as well.
You can watch the offending section — and hear the actual audio that was spliced out — here. It’s a stunning betrayal of journalistic ethics.
Couric should have disclaimed the documentary and publicly acknowledge her error. Instead, the film’s director Stephanie Soechtig indirectly admitted she spliced in false footage when she issued the following statement:
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.
This mealy mouthed mush was described as an apology at CNN while The Washington Post openly mocked the “apologize if” construction of the response. Erik Wemple of the Post added that he’d never seen a “thinner, more weaselly excuse” than the one proffered by Soechtig. For her part, Couric said “I support Stephanie’s statement and am very proud of the film.”
Wemple says that’s nowhere near good enough and concludes, “An apology, retraction, re-editing, whatever it is that filmmakers do to make amends — all of it needs to happen here.”
Of course, this type of cut-and-splice “journalism” is common these days. Journalists have been praising “The Daily Show’s” use of deceptively edited interviews for as long as “The Daily Show” has deceptively edited them. Pretty much every time we hear that some cable comedian has “destroyed” some outgroup or the views the outgroup holds, that’s thanks to deceptive editing.
A few other things are worth noting here. One is how media outlets praised this faux-documentary prior to this particularly egregious example of manipulation. The AP’s story by Lynn Elber was headlined, “Gun violence gets more nuanced, probing coverage.” I’d hate to see something non-nuanced or non-probing! The article goes on to say the documentary “examines why those on opposite sides of stricter gun laws can’t find common ground.”
On Media Treatment of ‘Edited’ Videos
You know where this is going. Beginning last July, the Center for Medical Progress began releasing videos showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing the trafficking of human body parts obtained from abortions performed in clinics. The videos were shocking. Planned Parenthood began robotically issuing talking points calling the videos “edited” or “deceptively edited,” in an attempt to protect its organization from a public relations nightmare.
That Planned Parenthood would respond to these videos in such a way is not surprising. But our entire media industrial complex attempted to circumvent the findings of the Center for Medical Progress’ videos by calling them “edited” or “deceptively edited” as well. If they said it once, they said it eleventy billion times.
It is true that all video journalism is edited. One hundred-freaking-percent of it. Every single video package you watch on the nightly news is edited. None of these videos are called “edited,” of course, but they are. In the same way that all other video journalism is edited, yes, the Center for Medical Progress’ was, too.
But unlike every other documentary team, the Center for Medical Progress did something telling. They released, along with their mini-documentaries, the full unedited footage they obtained in their undercover journalistic efforts.
Planned Parenthood paid for an audit of the videos from a left-wing Democratic opposition research firm called Fusion — an audit that the media were happy to accept and spread — to support the talking point that the videos were edited. Even so, that audit admitted “no widespread evidence of substantive video manipulation.”
An independent audit and forensic analysis of the videos likewise said that they were “authentic and show no evidence of manipulation.” As I wrote on Twitter:
Mollie (@MZHemingway) May 25, 2016
Indeed, when Katie Couric ran interference for Cecile Richards, doing a lengthy sit-down puffball interview and a tour of an abortion clinic where she didn’t once mention, uh, abortion, she twice decried the videos as “edited.” Couric is a long-time pro-abortion activist, not just using the mainstream media to advocate it, but having marched in support of the right to end unborn human lives. Last week on David Axelrod’s podcast, she said that her parents were major influences on her, specifically citing her mother’s volunteer work for Planned Parenthood and the fact that her mother invested in Trojan condoms when she learned about the AIDS crisis. Classy!
An accompanying write-up of the Cecile Richards interview falsely stated:
The videos, some of which were edited together in a way to depict Planned Parenthood employees talking about selling fetal tissue, which is illegal, rocked the organization.
The media have straight-up adopted Planned Parenthood’s false “deceptively edited” talking points and carried the water for Planned Parenthood’s campaign against the Center for Medical Progress. Here, one of their perky own in the mainstream media is caught red-handed actually deceptively editing in the service of gun control, and the most outrage The New York Times can muster is the headline, “Audio of Katie Couric interview shows editing slant in documentary, site claims.” What a joke our mainstream media are.