Former network news figurehead Katie Couric is under fire after a Washington Free Beacon report revealed an instance of blatantly deceptive editing in Under The Gun, Couric’s new documentary on gun violence.
Here’s a clip from the documentary showing Couric, who currently makes $10 million a year as global news anchor of Yahoo News, interviewing a group of gun-rights activists in Virginia:
Wow, right? These wing-nut gun clingers can’t even answer a simple question, probably because they’re stupid. They are living versions of the emotionless strawmen Obama routinely obliterates in his speeches—the “some people” who are totally cool with children being killed because the NRA lies, etc.
Except that’s not at all how the exchange went, according to an audio recording of the interview made by one of the activists who didn’t trust a media icon like Katie Couric to fairly represent his views. Imagine that.
Even NPR admits the situation “reflects poorly” on Couric and the makers of the Under The Gun. The documentary’s director, Stephanie Soechtig, issued a statement in response to the Free Beacon report in which she essentially pleads guilty to the charge of deceptive editing. Via the Washington Post:
There are a wide range of views expressed in the film. 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.
The Post‘s Erik Wemple correctly observed: “In the years we’ve covered and watched media organizations, we’ve scarcely seen a thinner, more weaselly excuse.”
Couric followed up with a one-sentence statement: “I support Stephanie’s statement and am very proud of the film.”
Meanwhile, an “individual with knowledge of Couric’s thinking” told The Wrap that the Yahoo anchor was upset about the “unnecessary mistake.” The dramatic pause, so to speak, was a “poor decision” that “could have been avoided,” the anonymous individual said.
The controversy comes at bad time for Couric and Yahoo, which is currently up for sale and attracting bids as high as $8 billion. The impending shake-up has led some to speculate that Couric, who joined Yahoo more than two years ago, may soon be out of a job. Potential buyers might not be so eager to keep expensive big names around at the company’s news division.
A Yahoo spokesperson dismissed the idea in a statement to Fortune earlier this month, saying: “We look forward to continuing our work [with Couric], and bringing our audience even more of her exceptional journalism and storytelling.”
But that was weeks before the Under The Gun controversy came to light, and the mounting questions about journalistic malpractice and calls for her dismissal. Perhaps Couric will attempt to further distance herself from the documentary in the coming days.
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