Katie Couric & ‘Under The Gun’ Helmer Move To Disarm $12M Defamation Suit

Dominic Patten
Deadline

Katie Couric is standing her ground in the $12 million-plus defamation lawsuit the former CBS anchor and others were hit with in September over their anti-gun documentary Under the Gun. On Tuesday, Couric and director Stephanie Soechtig field a motion of dismissal against the legal move by members of Virginia Citizens Defense League.

“A careful reading of their Complaint reveals that, beyond its vituperative rhetoric about the film and its producers, it strains to try to articulate how the brief pause allegedly defamed the Plaintiffs,” says the memorandum of law accompanying the motion filed Monday in Virginia federal court (read it here). “Plaintiffs further assert that the film implies they are unfit to engage in business activities such as selling guns. Those alleged implications are equally strained.”

The filing adds: “At worst, the film might be construed to imply that some members of the interview group had trouble coming up with an answer to the much narrower question about how, if there are no background checks, felons and terrorists can be prevented from buying guns.”

Couric, Soechtig and cabler Epix were named as defendants in the jury-seeking complaint that calls out how members of VCDL were shown in the film being unable to offer an argument against background checks on gun purchases. An exchange with Couric that both the host and Soechtig have said didn’t go down as shown on screen.

After the Sundance debut in January, the documentary fronted and produced by Couric aired on Epix on May 16. After the VCDL raised concerns about the way their members were shown in the film and their seemingly dumbfounded silence lasting several seconds over why background checks could be a bad idea, Soechtig and Couric both admitted editing choices had been made on the interviews.

“My intention was to provide a pause for the viewer to have a moment to consider this important question before presenting the facts on Americans’ opinions on background checks,” said the director on May 25 with support from Epix. “I never intended to make anyone look bad, and I apologize if anyone felt that way.”

Citing the editing that “misrepresented” them, plaintiffs the VCDL, Patricia Webb and Daniel Hawes — who appeared in the docu — want damages as well as an injunction essentially pulling the movie until the “false” depictions are fixed or removed.

Erik Pedersen contributed to this report.

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