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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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
I 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
I 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
While 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
Many 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.
I 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
We 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
I 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.
I 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.
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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.
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We just want to tell the truth.