Virginia – -(AmmoLand.com)- HISTORY
On June 18, 2015, eight Virginia Citizens Defense League members sat down with Katie Couric for an interview to be used in a “documentary.”
In mid-January, 2016, the “documentary” was shown at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah.
The television release was on May 16, 2016. That’s when Virginia Citizens Defense League learned that the interview with the eight VCDL members had been edited in such a way as to make it look like the VCDL members had no answers to a basic question: “If we don’t do background checks, how can we stop felons and terrorists from getting guns?” We had over six minutes of answers, none of which was shown. Instead some video was inserted showing everyone just siting around, looking down or away from the camera. That footage was taken toward the end of the interview when everyone was told to sit quietly for eight seconds so the background noises could be recorded for later removal from the audio. (BTW, the slanted “documentary” give 15 minutes to the gun-rigts side and 1-1/2 hours to the gun-controllers.)
On May 19, 2016, Virginia Citizens Defense League sent a VA-ALERT out on what happened, along with the actual unedited audio.
On May 23, 2016, AmmoLand News picked up on the alert and wrote a story about the deception in the film. The article included both the unedited audio and a clip showing the actual deceptive footage.
A FIRESTORM ENSUED. Katie Couric was thrown under the bus by almost all the media. If they backed Couric, they knew it would reflect negatively on themselves. What had been done defied a basic journalistic ethic. The news spread nationwide and, eventually, worldwide! The coverage was all virtually negative for the film.
On May 31, 2016 and under relentless pressure, Katie Couric finally acknowledged the edit publicly and admitted that it was wrong. However her apology left much to be desired and the fraud perpetrated on VCDL and the public had not been rectified.
On September 13, 2016, VCDL filed a suit against Katie Court and the studio that produced the film.
On May 31, 2017, an Obama appointed federal judge dismissed the case, with a clear *political* bias. The judge actually attacked the answers that the VCDL members offered to Couric’s question. He then concluded that since he didn’t think that the answers were any good, the editing didn’t actually hurt VCDL! Every attorney that I spoke with was shocked by the way the judge made his ruling.
On June 6, 2017, VCDL began the process of appealing the judge’s ruling to the Federal Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond.
FEDERAL FOURTH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS RULING
Appeals are heard initially by a three-judge panel whose names are drawn at random.
We lost that drawing big time, ending up with the three judges being appointed by either Bill Clinton or Barack Obama. 🙁
The judges reviewed the case and said that the silence inserted instead of the actual answers did not rise to the level of defamation. That was a really bad and disappointing ruling. Their ruling seemed to hinge on the fact that words weren’t substituted for other words, only silence was substituted for words.
The judges didn’t condone Couric’s actions, though. The judges acknowledged in their opinion that “the twelve-second clip [at issue] did not transpire as depicted,” and that “[i]n the unedited footage, Couric’s background check question prompted approximately six minutes of responses from the VCDL members” and “approximately three minutes of related discussion between Couric and the panel,” and that “[r]ather than use these responses, the filmmakers spliced in b-roll footage taken prior to the interview in which Couric asked the VCDL interviewees to sit in silence while technicians calibrated the recording equipment.”
Unlike the federal judge’s original ruling, the Panel did not try to insert their political beliefs about whether the answers given by the VCDL members were correct or not.
SO WHAT NOW?
While obviously disappointed in the outcome, the Virginia Citizens Defense League Board of directors considers the lawsuit to have been successful because it put the media’s deceptive editing practices in the public spotlight. The lawsuit also showcased the media’s overall bias against gun owners and the various tricks that the media uses to send subliminal messages – from editing what is said to change the meaning of the responses to putting gun owners in a dimly lit, shadowy room, while advocates for gun control are shown in a brightly lit room.
VCDL will not be appealing the case further and will now move on. Hopefully for others in the media, this affair will remind them why it is not smart to poke at a rattlesnake with a stick, lest they get bit.
About Virginia Citizens Defense League, Inc. (VCDL):
Virginia Citizens Defense League, Inc. (VCDL). VCDL is an all-volunteer, non-partisan grassroots organization dedicated to defending the human rights of all Virginians. The Right to Keep and Bear Arms is a fundamental human right.
For more information, visit: www.vcdl.org.