UPDATE: This article has been updated to include a statement from EPIX and a press release from Lionsgate, as well as a response from VCDL.
The day after news anchor Katie Couric apologized for “misleading” editing of her new documentary, Under the Gun, the movie about gun violence disappeared from the streaming library of premium cable network EPIX’s website. The movie had premiered on EPIX on May 15.
In a statement posted on the film’s website Monday evening, the Yahoo News anchor took responsibility for an edited sequence in the film that she said “misrepresented an exchange” she had with members of the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL), a non-profit gun rights group. In the movie, which Couric executive produced, the veteran news anchor asks VCDL members a question regarding the ability of convicted felons and people on terror watch lists to legally purchase guns without enforced background checks. The film then includes a pause that makes the group’s members appear to have no response to the question.
Upon being reached for comment by Fortune, an EPIX spokeswoman insisted that the network did not pull Under the Gun from its website in reaction to Couric’s statement, instead claiming that the move is part of the distribution plan the network negotiated when it purchased North American television rights to the film at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. The spokeswoman told Fortune that Under the Gun moved “out of the premium window” as of today and that the film will now be available for purchase through transactional video-on-demand.
The movie’s page on the EPIX website includes a message that reads “This movie is not currently playing on EPIX.” Meanwhile, the EPIX spokeswoman pointed Fortune to a press release issued last week by Lionsgate (LGF), EPIX’s distribution partner for the film, which details plans to make Under the Gun available for digital downloading on May 31. The movie is currently available to rent or buy through digital platforms such as Apple’s (AAPL) iTunes store, Amazon Video (AMZN), and Google Play (GOOG), among other distributors.
Since the documentary aired, though, Members of the VCDL have publicly criticized Couric and the film, which they say edited in an extended pause despite the fact that, they have claimed, the group’s members did quickly respond to Couric’s question in real life.
Couric said in her statement on Monday: “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.
Last week, VCDL President Philip Van Cleave released an audiotape of the original interview that shows VCDL immediately answering Couric’s question about background checks. Van Cleave told The Washington Post in an interview that other parts of Under the Gun accurately reflect the beliefs of the VCDL and other gun owners, but the interview with VCDL members did not and he demanded an apology from Couric and the filmmakers behind the documentary. (The Post‘s Erik Wemple accused Couric and the filmmakers of “deceptive editing”.)
Van Cleave took to Twitter (TWTR) on Tuesday with a vague claim that Couric’s apology “just made things worse with VCDL.” Later, in an email to Fortune, Van Cleave said that he had not heard directly from Couric or her team, and he also accused Couric of additional “selective editing” in her apology post, which he said condensed parts of the VCDL members’ response to the anchor’s question regarding background checks.
Under the Gun director Stephanie Soechtig issued her own apology to the Post for the incident, with the director claiming she included a pause after Couric’s question to allow viewers “to have a moment to consider this important question before presenting the facts on Americans’ opinions on background checks.”
Couric finished her statement on Monday by expressing regret over the depiction of her interview with VCDL and expressing hope that “we can continue to have an important conversation about reducing gun deaths in America.” Couric also posted a full transcript of her interview with the VCDL members.