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Virginia Citizens Defense League fires back after Katie Couric’s apology

Posted at 3:54 PM, May 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-31 15:59:31-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- The head of the Virginia Citizens Defense League does not buy Katie Couric's apology. In fact, Philip Van Cleave said the statement Couric issued Monday made the situation worse.

"It wasn't an apology. What she did was, in her response, she edited what we said again and she chopped off 3/4 of it," Van Cleave insisted. "Key parts that were important for people to see in her apology, she took it out. She did the same thing! She just can't let us answer the question because it doesn't give the answer that she wants about gun control."

Couric said she regretted a "misleading" portion of "Under the Gun," a new documentary that she produced and narrated.

The pivotal edit in the documentary made a group of gun rights activists seem stumped by one of Couric's questions.

The edit was exposed by a blogger last week.

During the interview for the film, Couric asked, "If there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorist from walking into, say, a licensed gun dealer and purchasing a gun?"

The documentary then showed the group members silently looking around for about eight seconds.

But an audio recording proved that the interviewees responded right away.

The edits were made by the documentary's director, Stephanie Soechtig, but Couric — one of the best known journalists in the United States — bore the brunt of the criticism for it.

Last Wednesday, when Soechtig initially addressed the controversy, Couric said she supported Soechtig's statement and was "very proud of the film."

As pressure mounted over the holiday weekend, Couric decided to say more.

In a four-paragraph statement on Monday night, she acknowledged that the edit wrongly made the activists "appear to be speechless."

"I take responsibility for a decision that misrepresented an exchange I had with members of the Virginia Citizens Defense League," Couric said in a statement on Monday night. "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."

But the "dramatic effect" fundamentally distorted the scene.

Ammoblog, which published the audio recording of the actual interview, said that "the group responded to Katie immediately, with answers to her question! Yet the video shows no one responding."

In addition to issuing a "full apology," Van Cleave said the movie should not be shown until the scene is fixed.

The web site for the documentary posted a transcript of the group's answers. There is no indication, however, that the documentary will be adjusted.

"She's going to continue to let the film be shown," he said. "Somebody has to know to go to her webpage and go to a particular spot to find the apology.

He said Couric should also post the full four-minutes audio exchange and let the people "hear for themselves."

"Instead of doing that, she did a selective cut of what we said, leaving out all kinds of stuff that was damaging to her position. She's made it worse, instead of better. It's not a real apology," he said.

The CNN Wire contributed to this report.