And now . . . a message from Katie

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Published by: Dan Calabrese on Tuesday May 31st, 2016

She's really sorry and she takes responsibility. Except that she lied again about what really happened.

I do not know as I sit here today how Katie Couric still has a job in journalism. I guess that's a question for Marissa Mayer, since Yahoo is the only organization at the moment willing to employ her full-time. Yahoo is not a traditional media organization, so maybe it isn't familiar with the fairly ironclad rule that if you're caught knowingly lying in the reporting of a story - you're gone.

You've all heard by now about the anti-gun "documentary" in which Couric and her producers asked a group of pro-gun people a question about background checks, then edited out their answers and instead showed us eight seconds of them sitting their silently - as if they were not only without a response but thoroughly ashamed of themselves as well.

The audience responded to Couric's question immediately, but as you'll see here, Couric and her producers deceptively edited the video to make it look otherwise:

When all this came to light a few days ago, Couric tried to pretend there was nothing untoward in what had happened. But since anyone who watched the video and heard the full exchange could see that wasn't the case, Couric had no choice but to try a different tact:

As Executive Producer of “Under the Gun,” a documentary film that explores the epidemic of gun violence, I take responsibility for a decision that misrepresented an exchange I had with members of the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL). My question to the VCDL regarding the ability of convicted felons and those on the terror watch list to legally obtain a gun, was followed by an extended pause, making the participants appear to be speechless.

When I screened an early version of the film with the director, Stephanie Soechtig, I questioned her and the editor about the pause and was told that a "beat" was added for, as she described it, “dramatic effect," to give the audience a moment to consider the question. When VCDL members recently pointed out that they had in fact immediately answered this question, I went back and reviewed it and agree that those eight seconds do not accurately represent their response.

VCDL members have a right for their answers to be shared and so we have posted a transcript of their responses here. I regret that those eight seconds were misleading and that I did not raise my initial concerns more vigorously.

I hope we can continue to have an important conversation about reducing gun deaths in America, a goal I believe we can all agree on.

Transcript with VCDL Response:

KATIE: 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?

MALE: Well, one, if you're not in jail then you should still have your basic rights and you should go buy a gun.

KATIE: So, if you're a terrorist or a felon …

MALE: If you're a felon and you've done your time, you should have your rights.

MALE: The fact is we do have statutes, both at the federal and state level that prohibit classes of people from being in possession of firearms. If you're under 18 in Virginia you can't walk around with a gun. If you're an illegal immigrant, if you're a convicted felon, if you've been adjudicated in same, these things are already illegal. So, what we're really asking about is a question of prior restraint. How can we prevent future crime by identifying bad guys before they do anything bad? And, the simple answer is you can't.

And, particularly, under the legal system we have in the United States there are a lot of Supreme Court opinions that say, "No, prior restraint is something that the government does not have the authority to do." Until there is an overt act that allows us to say, "That's a bad guy," then you can't punish him.

FEMALE: I would take another outlook on this. First, I'll ask you what crime or what law has ever stopped a crime? Tell me one law that has ever stopped a crime from happening.

So let me see if I have this straight: Couric asked the producers about the "pause" and was told it was put in for dramatic effect . . . and she decided that was fine and approved it. But the issue wasn't just, or even primarily, that a "pause" was put in. It was that the answers to the question that were given by the VCDL members were taken out entirely, thus creating the entirely false impression that they had nothing to say in response to the question.

Couric was the one who conducted the interview. She didn't remember this? It simply strains credulity to think Couric a) didn't remember that answers were given; b) didn't remember what they were; or c) failed to understand that removing the answers entirely from the documentary represented a very serious breach of journalistic ethics, not to mention just simple honesty.

She's now offering to "take responsibility," but she's not really because she's hiding behind the decision of her editors, and she's pretending the issue is something other than what it really is. You can agree or disagree with the answers that were given to the question, but if you saw this documentary you didn't even get a chance to assess them because the documentary gave you the impression they were never given at all.

That, not the "pause for dramatic effect," is the real violation of trust here.

And let's just tell the truth about what really happened, since we know Katie Couric won't. Couric and her staff set out to do a pro-gun control documentary, and they intentionally edited this interview to make Second Amendment advocates look clueless and ashamed of themselves. This was not done for any reason other than to further an agenda. It was not a mistake and it was not an oversight. It was intentional and Katie Couric - having served as both the executive producer and the interviewer - has to have known what was being done and why, and is completely responsible for all of the above.

It's always been clear to anyone paying attention that Couric is a terrible journalist. It's now beyond dispute that she is a dishonest, propagandist hack. If she is not fired today, Yahoo has lost whatever credibility it presumed to have.

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