Why Is Katie Couric Apologizing About Her Documentary? I Wouldn’t.

I wasn’t going to watch Katie Couric’s documentary, Under The Gun, because at a certain point listening to people talk about how they are dealing or not dealing with the loss of a loved one from gun violence becomes an experience I would rather pass up.  But I finally forced myself to endure the heartfelt testimonies of such folks thanks to the big noise eruption from Gun Nation over what is claimed to be a falsification of the film’s contents due to the editing of a segment that covers a discussion with a group of gun ‘activists,’ from the Virginia Citizens Defense League.

couric           Let me say right from the beginning that a documentary filmmaker is not obliged to put the totality of their material on public view.  In fact, a film editor or producer can do whatever they want.  I was interviewed at length to see whether I might later get a segment in the film; the producers decided not to come back and put me on camera which was fine.  They had every right to decide what to do with my brilliant comments, including never mentioning our discussions at all.

But let’s remember that the right-wing noise machine probably still believes that if it hadn’t been for Katie asking Sarah Palin to name a newspaper that she ever read, the whole recent history of American politics might have taken a different path.  So the fact that she can now be accused of slanting her documentary to find favor with the anti-gun crowd is seen as a bit of payback, that’s for sure.

What exactly was the terrible crime committed by Katie and her director, Stephanie Soechtig, at roughly 21 minutes into the film?  The Virginia Citizens Defense League group had just been asked a series of questions about gun ownership, you know, the usual stuff like requiring training for a gun license [answer: it violates of the 2nd Amendment]; extending background checks [answer: that would create a national gun registry]; government wanting to take away all guns [answer: of course the government wants to ban all guns] and so forth. Then the question was asked: “Well, then how do you keep guns out of the hands of terrorists and criminals?”  This was followed by silence as the camera panned the group, all of whom appeared to be thinking about a proper response.

But it turned out that members of the group did respond, and the fact that these responses were edited out of the film was enough to make the Gun Nation noise machine scream ‘foul!’ and post the usual outraged comments on the usual pro-gun blogs.  Even The New York Times and CNN chimed in to force Couric and Soechtig to apologize for their ‘mistake.’

I listened to the entire audio of that session and frankly, what the august VCDL members didn’t get on film was nothing more than the usual mélange of gun-rights crap that has been floating around since the Feds first started regulating gun ownership back in 1968. Here are some of the profound and incisive comments:

  • Criminals don’t obey laws.
  • Law-abiding folks need to protect themselves.
  • If someone wants to murder someone else and can’t get a gun, they’ll use a different tool.

Let’s leave aside the fact that those statements have been shown to be false in more peer-based research studies than I can count. And if the group interview revealed anything at all, it is that most gun-owning activists can be trusted to trot out the gun industry’s marketing pitch every single time.

Which is why I don’t understand how come the filmmakers even felt the need to apologize for not completely presenting “every point of view.” You’re not getting a thoughtful or reasonable approach to gun violence when you sit down with a group like the VCDL. You’re getting what a group of otherwise rational adults have deluded themselves into believing are the reasons why they need to walk around with guns.

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