Tthe Virginia Citizens Defense League, a pro-gun organization, is suing former TV news anchor Katie Couric, television network Epix and director Stephanie Soechtig for defamation over their documentary Under the Gun, the Guardian reports. The suit demands $12 million in damages after a fruitless round of accusations and half-apologies over the film’s editing. In Under the Gun, Couric asks members of the Virginia-based gun lobby: “If there are no background checks, for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing a gun?” Nine seconds of silence follow as the interviewees, all of whom are named as plaintiffs, appear to be at a loss for an answer.
But by the group’s accounting, and by the film-makers’ admission, the gun ownership advocates were not silent but answered the question. “The bottom line is that while Katie and crew acknowledged that what they’d done was misleading, they continue to promote and distribute the film,” says the league’s Philip Van Cleave. Epix said it should not be a part of the suit and that it had had nothing to do with the decisions that led to the deceptive editing. The film’s distributors have not altered the portion of the movie containing the silent response to the interview question. Soechtig told Variety that editing out responses to questions was “pro forma” in an interview; later, she said, “I never intended to make anyone look bad and I apologize if anyone felt that way.”