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Katie Couric Faces Defamation Lawsuit for ‘Under the Gun’ Documentary

"Sully" New York Premiere"Sully" New York Premiere
Katie Couric attends the "Sully" New York premiere.Photo by Jim Spellman—WireImage via Getty Images

News anchor Katie Couric is facing a $12 million lawsuit for her recent documentary, Under the Gun.

The Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) filed a defamation lawsuit in a federal court on Tuesday. Deadline reports that defendants named in the lawsuit include Couric, director Stephanie Soechtig, Atlas Films, and Epix. The lawsuit claims that the documentary, which was released this past January, was deceptively edited to misrepresent the subjects and mislead viewers.

In addition to the VCDL, the plaintiffs include Patricia Webb and Daniel Hawes—two people who appear in the documentary. The plaintiffs are seeking $12 million in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages, according to Deadline. And they are also requesting an injunction on any future viewings of the documentary until the issue resolves.

Couric and Soechtig admitted back in May that they put in eight seconds of b-roll of VCDL members sitting quietly after Couric asked, “If there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing a gun?” The group insists that its members gave an answer right away, and the seconds-long silence makes it seem as if they did not have an answer.

“The Defendants manipulated the footage in service of an agenda: they wanted to establish that there is no basis for opposing universal background checks by fooling viewers into believing that even a panel of pro-Second Amendment advocates could not provide one,” the lawsuit states. “The fictional exchange is defamatory because it holds the plaintiffs up as objects of ridicule by falsely representing that, as experts in their respective pro-Second Amendment trades, they had no basis for their opposition to universal background checks.”

The lawsuit describes the selective editing as “malicious, willful, and wanton.”


In a statement to Deadline, Epix explains it acquired the documentary after seeing it at the Sundance Film Festival and had nothing to do with its creation or production. So the claims made against the network “are completely without merit,” says Epix, and it should not be named in the lawsuit.

Fortune has reached out to those mentioned in the lawsuit for additional comment and will update this article with any response.