The $12 million defamation lawsuit filed against Katie Couric for her gun documentary, “Under the Gun,” was dismissed this week by a federal judge.
U.S. District Court Judge John Gibney, Jr. shot down the complaint filed by the Virginia Citizens Defense League and granted the motion to dismiss the case.
The lawsuit arose from Couric’s decision to add an 8-second pause to the film to seemingly make members of the VCDL look stupefied during a line of questioning concerning whether convicted felons or those on terrorist watchlists should be allowed to purchase firearms.
You can see the deceptive pause in the video below:
Couric apologized for the pause and said it was put there for “dramatic effect” after the VCDL called her out for misrepresenting the group in the film. But she made no effort to fix the film — that is, remove the deliberate pause and add in the six-plus minutes of responses VCDL members gave during the line of questioning — or to stop promoting and distributing the film in its current misleading state.
VCDL then sued the former news anchor for compensatory damages to the tune of $12 million and punitive damages to the tune of $350,000 per plaintiff in Sept. of 2016.
Judge Gibney acknowledged that the pause existed Wednesday, but said that it did not rise to the level of defamation.
“The plaintiffs’ defamation claims fail because the interview scene is not false,” wrote Gibney. “’Under the Gun’ portrays members of the VCDL not answering the question posed by Couric. In reality, members of the VCDL did not answer the question posed by Couric. They talked about background checks and gun laws generally, but did not answer the question of how to prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing guns without background checks. The editing simply dramatizes the sophistry of the VCDL members.”
Tough break for VCDL. Why didn’t it go their way? Well, consider the source of the opinion. To that end, VCDL made the following observation on its Facebook page:
On September 30, 2009, Virginia Senators Jim Webb and Mark Warner recommended Gibney for a seat on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. On April 14, 2010, President Obama nominated Gibney to the seat that had been created by the retirement of Judge Robert E. Payne, who had taken senior status in May 2007. Gibney’s nomination was approved by the Senate on December 16, 2010, during the lame duck session of the 111th Congress. He received his commission on December 17, 2010.