How about no? What she did is illegal. It’s called defamation, Katie, and it’s the one type of speech that isn’t covered under the First Amendment. And for a good reason, it could ruin people’s lives. Just because you think you’re this big shot reporter does not mean you are above the law.
Katie Couric and her fellow co-defendants on Tuesday requested that a judge dismiss a $12 million defamation suit stemming from a deceptive edit made in her documentary Under the Gun.
Couric’s lawyers said the documentary’s implication that members of the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) were unable to answer a question on background checks did not constitute defamation under Virginia law.
“At worst, the film might be construed as implying that the persons within the group being interviewed could not quickly respond to Couric’s” question on terrorists and background checks, lawyers from Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz, LLP said in their filing. “Implying that any of the Plaintiffs—or anyone else, for that matter—had difficulty immediately answering that public policy question is simply not the kind of assertion that may be redressed by a defamation suit.”
Getting this case summarily dismissed might be a heavy lift. The legal textbook definition of defamation is, “the act of making untrue statements about another which damages his/her reputation.” If the statements are printed or broadcast over the media it is a case of libel. Given that everyone involved in the production of that hit job, including Couric herself, have admitted that the interview was deliberately edited it would be up to the court to determine whether or not it was done to make the group appear stupid. Their argument about “inserting a pause” so viewers could consider the question is laughable enough that it shouldn’t provide a basis for dismissal.
So do the VCDL folks have a case or not? Our colleague Bob Owens at Bearing arms notes that VCDL hired Clare Locke LLP, a firm which specializes in defamation law. Based on that, Bob thinks they wouldn’t have filed a case without being fairly sure they had an excellent chance of winning. Perhaps so, though we’ve seen stranger things happen in courtrooms before. Bob is of the opinion that if this motion fails, Couric’s next move will probably be to try and settle out of court with VCDL. Assuming they can convince them to go away with a check for seven or eight million dollars that may limit the damage to Couric’s reputation in the press… at least for now. But the lasting damage she’s done to the anti-gun movement in the country will be sticking around for a long time.