Documentaries rarely tell the entire truth about their chosen subject, especially when those documentaries are thinly-veiled exercises in political argument. One such documentary – Epix’s Under the Gun, which debuted earlier this year – went further than most, however. Using selective editing, the documentary made a group of gun rights activists look positively stumped when Couric asked them a basic question.
“If there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing a gun?” Couric asked.
The movie then shows members of the Virginia Citizens Defense League sitting in dumb silence for several seconds before a smash cut away to a pre-packaged piece on background checks. The viewer is left to think that somehow these dedicated defenders of the Second Amendment had never considered such a fundamental problem before.
The group came forward immediately to denounce the documentary, telling the public that director Stephanie Soechtig had chosen to edit out their actual response, which was immediate and clear. Videos soon surfaced of the uncut interview, proving that the group was not at all “stumped” by Couric’s question. Couric, with no other choice, apologized for the deceptive editing in a subsequent interview.
But despite this public admission, the filmmakers continued to distribute and profit off the film without making changes to the editing. Now the VCDL is suing Couric, Soechtig, Epix, and Atlas Films for $12 million.
“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,” said Defense League president Philip Van Cleave. “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.”
Van Cleave and the rest of the VCDL are suing on grounds of defamation, claiming that the film’s manipulative portrayal of them did damage to their reputations and cost them clients in the gun industry.
Hopefully, the lawsuit will be successful and Hollywood liberals will realize that they have to tell the truth when they make their little propaganda pieces.
And if that means we don’t get anymore films like Under the Gun, so much the better for our democracy.