GunGate – Katie Couric Alters VCDL Responses in “Documentary”

Katie Couric has been exposed as a fraud over the current GunGate debacle, and since Gadsden Guns owner Pat Webb was one of the parties whose answers were altered in the so-called documentary, we feel it’s our duty to speak out and share the truth about what really happened.

GunGate – How it Happened

Under the guise of documentary journalism, pro-gun activists were interviewed by Katie Couric in order to “provide varied viewpoints.”

In fact, those are some of the exact words that were included in the email sent to VCDL’s president asking the organization to contribute to Couric’s interviews. You can read the whole story in President Philip Van Cleave’s own words in the recent VA-ALERT, but for the sake of convenience, here’s what he says about being invited to participate:

I received an email in March of 2015 from Kristin Lazure, a producer for Atlas Films, asking if VCDL would be part of “a documentary about the gun violence prevention movement in America.”

In the email, Kristin said, “Some of the storylines we’re exploring include the legislative process on the federal and state level, how the Second Amendment has been interpreted in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Heller ruling, and what impact mass shootings like Aurora and Sandy Hook have on gun reform legislation.” She continued, “In order to fully understand the complexities of this hot button topic and speak to an audience with varied viewpoints, Ms. Couric is very eager to include all perspectives in this discussion.”

As is VCDL’s general policy with the media, we do our best to accommodate their requests, as it gives us a chance to get our message out to the public. It is a policy that has worked well for as long as VCDL has been around, with the exception of four times, and this was to be one of those exceptions.

Luckily, Van Cleave had the foresight to record the interview in its entirety, just in case something like this happened. We in the firearms world have all too much experience with dishonest and manipulative politicians and supposed journalists.

The Interview

Here’s the deal:

Out of a 2 hour interview with Philip and another 1 hour and 50 minute interview with a group of VCDL members, including Gadsden Guns owner Pat Webb, can you guess how much footage made it into the actual documentary?

About 4 minutes.

And that’s not the worst part.

Look, this was obviously not going to be a fair and balanced presentation of the issues. It was Katie Couric, after all, so nobody on the pro-rights side expected to be presented in a flattering light or to get equal screentime with the groups and people that furthered the agenda being pushed.

But we did have a certain level of trust.

We trusted that even though we’d definitely get less screentime, and our most articulate and compelling points would probably be excluded, we’d still be presented more or less honestly.

Nobody expected the editorial team to do a hack job on our interview footage to intentionally make us look like uncomfortable, inarticulate mutes.

Here’s what we mean.

The Switch

This is the original audio of the infamous GunGate question, the one about background checks:

And here is the same segment as it appears in the finished movie:

Notice that Katie’s question is subtly changed, from

If there are no background checks, how do you prevent…I know how you all are going to answer this, but I’m asking anyway…if there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from walking into, say, a licensed gun dealer, and purchasing a gun?

to

Let me ask you another question. If there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing a gun?

Yes, it is standard practice in all interviews to cut out asides, moments where people trip over their words, and things like that, but there’s one important phrase that stands out as a major red flag.

I already know how you all are going to answer this, but I’m asking anyway…

Apart from being horribly condescending, that attitude is not journalistic in the least.

Neither is cutting out the few words “licensed gun dealer,” because the final version somehow implies that background checks can prevent people from buying a gun on the black market, too. Interesting, isn’t it?

But the thing that’s making GunGate famous, and rightfully so, is the way the answers were edited.

Or, rather…omitted.

You can tell from the original audio that several group members chimed in immediately to offer answers to Couric’s questions, even though she wasn’t very receptive to hearing them. It seems there’s a fine line between interviewing and arguing.

Instead of highlighting any of the immediate, articulate answers to that question, the editor chose instead to pull footage from a different part of the interview to create a dull silence.

VCDL members even seem to be avoiding eye contact, like a kid trying to avoid being called on by the teacher, when the reality is that several people spoke up to answer the question.

In fact, the only time any of the group members remember remaining silent was when the crew asked that they sit silently for the purposes of gauging the ambient sound, a technique that is used commonly to make editing the sound levels easier.

VCDL member appears to avoid eye contact in GunGate farce documentary

And, in an appalling farce, Katie Couric assumes no personal responsibility for the obviously misleading edits, and the director of the piece claims instead that it was meant to be a thoughtful pause for the viewer’s benefit!

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.

Of course, the network that aired the documentary simply encourages viewers to watch and decide for themselves. Surely, the GunGate controversy has been excellent for their viewership numbers, so there’s little chance they’ll take it down even after being exposed as a fraud.

The Ultimate Betrayal of Public Trust

We were shocked when we discovered this deception, but more than anything, we’re just deeply disappointed.

Thousands, perhaps even millions, trust Katie Couric because she’s supposed to be a renowned journalist, and she used that trust to sell all of those people a convenient fiction.

Of course, it brings into question the integrity not just of the rest of this propaganda-laden documentary, but everything she’s ever done throughout her career. How often has this happened to other people who did not have the influence or the courage to speak out and reveal this kind of intentional deception?

And even though we have our own recordings, our own proof that our trust was betrayed, there are still more people who won’t believe us because they implicitly trust Katie Couric and journalism without question.

We can’t go back and retract the interview, and neither can we alter the way we were presented by Couric and her team.

However, we can use platforms like this blog to allow our voices to be heard.

Statements Directly From Those Involved

The following quotes are statements directly from some of the VCDL members whose trust was betrayed in the GunGate altered documentary.

If you would like to use these quotes in your own blog or news article, you absolutely may do so, but please provide a link back to this post so that readers can reach the original source.

Each statement was given directly to this blog from the individual, and they were also courteous enough to provide their own photographs. If you would like to use their photos, you need their permission, but we’ll help you get in touch with them to ask if you’d like. Just leave us a comment or send us an email.

Dr. Rubinder S. Toor, M.D. Physician and VCDL Member

Rubinder Toor responds to the GunGate scandal in which Katie Couric and her editor modified interview responses for an anti-gun documentaryI was once a gun hating liberal who converted to a well informed, pro-gun conservative. One must realize that the liberal media deliver lies and feed on emotions to stay in power. Fellow VCDL members and I participated in the documentary to spread honest information about lawful gun owners. We knew there would be bias, but we prepared for their slander and smearing tactics by carrying our audio recorders. Katie Couric’s pitiful attempt to insult American gun owners has further reinforced the fact that liberals thrive on lies and emotion. I am satisfied that I participated in exposing this truth and have no regrets in embracing the 2nd Amendment.

Ed Levine, VCDL Executive Member

Ed Levine responds to the GunGate scandal in which Katie Couric and her editor modified interview responses for an anti-gun documentaryI knew in the beginning it was going to be a hit piece. You can tell when they ask multiple questions over and over like “Why would anyone need a gun?” and “Could you REALLY kill someone? Are YOU a killer”? So why do interviews like this? Because they are going to do a show with or without knowledgeable gun owners and I would prefer they have the information correct from “our” side. Katie blamed her secret silence on her editors. But I assure you, she saw the final version 10 times before it was published.. and as the executive producer, she probably ASKED for it that way and her editor is taking the fall. And people wonder why I say not to believe the liberal media.

Leonard Harris, Executive Member of VCDL

Leonard Harris responds to the GunGate scandal in which Katie Couric and her editor modified interview responses for an anti-gun documentaryWhile I expected it to be biased in that the other side would get more time and probably softball questions, it never occurred to me that Katie would do something unethical by changing our answers to her questions. This is the kind of behavior expected from Soviet-era Pravda, not a 21st century American journalist. It shows a blatant disregard for the truth and calls into question all the work she’s done.

Baraka Ulrich James, Modern American Shooting and Firearms founder

Baraka James responds to the GunGate scandal in which Katie Couric and her editor modified interview responses for an anti-gun documentaryMany people have asked me, why did you agree to go on a mainstream media show? My answer is two fold: One, they would have done the piece with or without us. I would rather be there to deliver accurate information, challenge falsehoods and shoot down bad information. That is exactly what we as a group did but they intentionally left those parts out.

Two, I trusted in Katie Couric’s ethics, integrity and most of all professionalism, to be reporting an honest and unbiased view representing both sides equally. But instead…. she lied and used us to further and fuel the anti-gun agenda.

The truth has now been released and it will just get worse for her from here on out. You reap what you sow. The worse part is that this could have been a hit with both sides had she just represented both sides equally and in an unbiased fashion as a good journalist should have.

Judy Rudek

Judy Rudek responds to the GunGate scandal in which Katie Couric and her editor modified interview responses for an anti-gun documentaryI admit, I fully expected little (if any) of our commentary to be included in the documentary, as I was pretty sure it would be leaning very much to the anti-gun side of the debate, based on the conversation. But for our answers to be deliberately altered to satisfy the film’s agenda goes beyond the pale. I spent a fair amount of time after the movie explaining to my family and friends that the information from the VCDL group, of which I was proudly a part, was altered in editing. I am glad that there is concrete proof of that.

And as to the director’s comment that she was ‘allowing the audience time to think’ by adding the 10 seconds of silence, that is a blatant falsehood. If she had really wanted to do that, it should NOT have been immediately following Katie’s question. Instead, she used the ‘ambient noise pause’ we had (at the filmer’s request during the interview) to make it appear we had no answer.

Pat Webb, Gadsden Guns President and Executive Member of VCDL

Pat Webb responds to the GunGate scandal in which Katie Couric and her editor modified interview responses for an anti-gun documentaryWe did this interview in good faith, and although we fully expected the end result to be biased against our civil rights, we were dismayed to find the blatant deceit displayed with the “creative editing.”  The media has a responsibility to the public, and we are sad to see the public trust shattered so shamefully.

Dennis J. O’Connor, VCDL Board Member

Dennis O'Connor responds to the GunGate scandal in which Katie Couric and her editor modified interview responses for an anti-gun documentaryI am used to speaking with the press, and understand that we all have different views on things and may even disagree on the subject at hand. It can therefore be understandable if a reporter’s own biases are evident in the resulting story, but you still expect final footage to represent those interviewed honestly, and to quote them correctly. For Yahoo News to betray that trust by allowing Couric to “cut and splice” to create knowingly false responses shows a deplorable lack of ethics and morals.

Dan Hawes

Dan Hawes responds to the GunGate scandal in which Katie Couric and her editor modified interview responses for an anti-gun documentaryI expected the promise of a ‘fair and balanced discussion’ to mean that all sides would have equal exposure – I did not expect to be exploited for the purpose of discrediting those who are interested in being prepared to defend themselves, their homes and their families.

These statements have not been altered, shortened, or changed in any way. If you choose to use them in your own publications, please show the same respect and post them in their entirety with credit and appropriate attribution. Obviously, we’re a little sensitive about media bias and editing at the moment.

If you’d like to listen to the interview in its entirety, without any alterations, this file includes the entire session with VCDL members – nearly 2 hours of question and answer. You’ll even hear the spot where members were asked to sit in silence. Note: if the media player does not appear below, you can also download and listen to the interview here courtesy of VCDL.

We also ask you, the reader, to please share this post so that we can help combat the misinformation and name calling on both sides.

In truth, this is not a political issue.

It’s not about anti-gunners versus pro-rights people, and it’s definitely not about left versus right, although plenty of people are willing to jump in and turn this into a political platform.

This is about ethics and integrity.

Just by sharing this post with others, you’re helping cut down on the politicizing and ratings-grabbing that happens all over the political spectrum, so please consider using the buttons below to share this article.

We just want to tell the truth.

18 thoughts on “GunGate – Katie Couric Alters VCDL Responses in “Documentary”

  1. Katie Couric, may, at one time , been a journalist. But now she seem to be nothing more than a aging attention whore. Who is trying to hold on to her “hard hitting” interviews. Sorry Katie, you and Brian Williams are the same. Slant the news to fit your liberal agenda.

    • News is and has always been a source of entertainment, but this kind of deception is a major violation of consumer trust and integrity. Let’s hope the public has the courage to hold her and everyone else involved accountable.

    • We did expect this to be a biased “hit piece” but were hoping for better. Of course, we have learned to always record interviews with the press just in case of situations like this.

  2. Thanks for your thorough rebuttal, and especially for the extensive quotes and photos of the offended parties. Couric and her producers have doubled down, and hope that this will all go away. We cannot allow that. Keep the pressure on!
    — VCDL member, NRA life member, etc.

    • That’s one of the reasons we wrote this post. We’re hoping that it’s widely shared so that news and media consumers can get an honest perspective

  3. I was also part of that panel. One thing you all should know about is that we actually got Katie to admit that, when it’s her own life at stake, she would rather have an armed guard than an unarmed one. I believe it was Mr. James, above, who asked her this question (IIRC, he is also a part-time armed security guard). It was something to the effect of this:

    “Suppose it were your own physical well-being at stake. Which would you prefer protecting you, an unarmed bodyguard, or someone like me who is armed?

    At that point, we actually did have a nearly 8-second pause while Katie decided if she could get away with pooh-pooh’ing this away and deflecting. With all eyes on her, she finally answered that she’d prefer the armed guard. Naturally, she tried to qualify the daylights out of this admission, stuff like, “someone like you who’s Highly Trained, Certified, and Experienced”, all that. It was something like 30 seconds of qualifiers…which ended with, “I would prefer the armed security.”

    BINGO!

    There was another time where she actually seriously asked us if it weren’t better to risk being cut by a knife than shot by a gun. Naturally, since my Dad faced that very threat (three racists with knives) and successfully repelled them with his .38 snubnose, I took great offense to that. She actually thinks it’s somehow “more OK” to be murdered by being cut to ribbons than being killed by a bullet?? REALLY?? Um, excuse me, NEITHER ONE IS ACCEPTABLE!!

    Katie lied about us, deceived us, deceived her viewers, and finally, showed what a hypocrite she is. And now that she’s caught, she’s digging in her heels. What a jerk. There’s nothing “Liberal” about her type of liar and never was.

    – Terrell “Cowboy T” Prude’, Jr.

    • Thanks for your input, Terrell! You can tell in the full, unedited recording that she was trying to get a certain response, but was having trouble getting anything she could use. It’s a shame she resorted to outright deception, but if we can get the original recording shared as far and wide as possible, perhaps people will be less apt to implicitly trust “journalists” like Couric. So far, there has been some interesting news coverage, but until the general public starts calling for her accountability, it seems like she might get away with it.

  4. I too, was part of that interview. When I saw that every single link on their website for those viewers who want to “get involved” was for an anti-rights group, I knew there wasn’t going to be an ounce of balance or fairness. Why weren’t NRA or VCDL’s links posted? Can the viewers not choose to “get involved” if they disagree?

    I hope people know that we cannot trust any “random” sample of other interviewees from the movie, either.

    It’s awful that some people don’t trust others to think for themselves.

    • It’s interesting that you bring up the links, because other people have made that same observation. They’re also calling it evidence that the entire “documentary” is suspect, and that those conspicuously absent links are proof positive that the edit was intentional…not that anyone who sees the clip and compares it to the original audio would ever doubt the intention.

    • Also, their page with survivors didn’t include any of the survivors in OUR group. Nor did their “experts” page include John Lott, Philip Van Cleave, Dan Hawes (an attorney who specializes in firearms laws), myself, a licensed gun dealer or any number of others who were interviewed.

  5. What Katie Couric probably took away from all of this is next time make sure nobody else is making any recordings. So if you are ever asked for an ‘interview’ by the MSM, always make your own recording of it in it’s entirety!

    • It’s a good policy any time you’re being interviewed to record it, whether it’s over the phone, in person, or on video. That policy has served us well over time, and we encourage everyone to do the same.

  6. Unbelievably, Katie Couric issues a statement that still relies on heavy editing. Is the truth so dangerous to her chosen stance? I guess when you are pushing for universal background checks, the inconvenient fact that background checks don’t stop criminals from getting guns is something you just don’t want to admit.

    Newsflash, Katie, the definition of criminal: a person who breaks the law.

    One more thing…in the statement meant to be an apology (not really), Katie mentions preventing people who are on the terrorist watch list from buying a gun. We must remember that there is no defined criteria for being put on this list, the members of the list are not afforded due process and the list itself is secret. Is this what America is all about? I think not. And if we are headed that way, we should be very afraid indeed. This is not about guns, it is about civil rights. It is no different from not allowing blacks or women to vote or own property. It is plain and simple prejudice.

What do you think?

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