It has been called “appalling journalism.”
That might be considered a positive comment regarding an editing trick inserted into a documentary on gun ownership that has come to light.
Long-time NBC Today Show star and anchor at all three major networks, Katie Couric, now with Yahoo! News, is being severely criticized for highly questionable editing in her documentary titled “Under the Gun” after it was revealed an eight-second pause was inserted to make it look as if the people interviewed could not answer her question (LINK).
Luckily for the individuals being interviewed, one person was wise enough to record the Q&A (LINK TO AUDIO). Otherwise, questioning the bubbly media icon would have been virtually impossible and fruitless.
Couric was executive producer, host and narrator of the piece. Anti-gun activist Stephanie Soechtig produced and directed it.
In the documentary, a group of Virginia gun owners was asked by Couric: “If there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing a gun?”
Not only did Couric/Soechtig insert a pause (8-10 seconds), but they also inserted “B” roll of the gun owners taken before the interview even began. There is little doubt the editing was clearly designed to make it look as if Couric’s tough question made them speechless and uncomfortable.
Couric is now calling the edit an “unnecessary mistake,” according to an individual with knowledge of her thinking (LINK).
In an official statement, Soechtig countered, “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.”
Couric now says she supports Soechtig’s statement “and am very proud of the film.” However, a few days later she admitted she regretted how she portrayed gun activists (LINK).
However, the National Review and Washington Post now say Couric should be fired over the deliberate misrepresentation (LINK).
This is a classic reason why at Bottom Line Communications we strongly advise clients to always record media interviews. Without actual audio evidence (below) the Yahoo! crew would have denied inserting the pause.
However, with the evidence journalism takes another huge credibility hit.