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VCDL Sues Katie Couric

Bearing Arms is reporting. I don’t honestly think they have a case, and expect it will be quickly dismissed.

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.

Yeah, I’m not sure that’s legally defamation. Additionally their claims of harm are somewhat dubious. One claim is that an FFL holder lost business for being thought a fool, and the same for the attorney.

Sadly, this is freedom of the press. The recourse we have as gun owners is to not watch or subscribe to their content, and not to agree to be interviewed by hacks like Couric.

23 Responses to “VCDL Sues Katie Couric”

  1. Whetherman says:

    I suspect VCDL knows that its case doesn’t have a great deal of legal merit, but is using their suit as a means to further publicize the bias and misrepresentation in the Courick presentation.

    They may also be channeling Alan Gottlieb and using a case with minimal legal merit as a fundraiser. “You too can be a party to this historic legal case for as little as. . .”

  2. HappyWarrior6 says:

    This is a good fundraising idea.

    • Whetherman says:

      It’s a very old idea, done frequently. The downside to it is, it can result in frivolous, poorly thought-out cases being filed that can actually hurt your cause. I believe Sebastian has commented on such cases from time to time.

      I first remember becoming aware of the tactic being used by the National Taxpayers Union (NTU) more than 30 years ago. A workmate made a donation to the NTU by endorsing a small check for some odd dollars-and-cents amount over to the NTU and sending it in. A few weeks later he got an urgent mailing from the NTU informing him he could become a joint plaintiff in some “historic” suit for only an amount that was precisely three times the odd amount he had donated.

      I am relatively neutral-leaning-toward-their-side about VCDL, but most of the state-level gun rights organizations I’ve been associated with closely enough to know, spent more time by far on strategizing fundraising tactics than on strategizing political tactics. I suspect that’s just part of the life-cycle of activist organizations, but that’s another topic.

  3. Billll says:

    Lies circulate quickly, and the truth slowly, but a lie unanswered is effectively the truth and the liar is untouched.

  4. Lance Lot Link says:

    The Freedom of the Press includes the right to lie, unless it is done with actual malice.

    They’ve alleged actual malice in the complaint.

    The entire case will depend on whether this factor exists or not.

    The actual malice standard was adopted by the Supreme Court in 1964, New York Times v Sullivan

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_Times_Co._v._Sullivan

  5. Whetherman says:

    “They’ve alleged actual malice in the complaint.”

    First, let me stipulate that I wish VCDL every success with their suit.

    However, if representing someone as holding an opinion, that they in fact do not, can be construed as malice in the sense of NYT v. Sullivan, I will be very surprised.

    Politicians do it to each other, all the time.

    • HSR47 says:

      I think what Courick did was more than just “misrepresent” the position of her opponents: Her “documentary” actively engaged in character assassination.

      If you listen to VCDL’s recording, you’ll hear Courick ask a question and be immediately answered.

      If you watch the “documentary” you’ll see Courick ask the same question, and then see a clip of VCDL basically sitting around quietly looking nervous and embarrassed, and without any kind of response.

      The intended effect of that edit was to make it look like there is no good/valid answer to that particular question, and that VCDL knows that, yet still fights for something that Courick wants the viewer to perceive as indefensible.

      That seems like nothing less than libel to me.

  6. Jeremiah says:

    I hope it succeeds, and they should be applauded for trying. Too often we roll over, crying despair at being unable to touch the gun control media because of some imagined “free speech” trump card. (no pun intended) They are talking about limiting rights and providing the impetus and call to do so. How is that different than crying “fire” in a theater (i.e. lying), risking the right to life of the people inside? There really isn’t technically any difference, because Courick wants you unarmed in the theater and everywhere else, regardless of the cost to your life. This isn’t free speech, its speech to spread tyranny.

    Sometimes it is not the winning that matters, but the fight. Fight often, win as much as possible. But losing some is not the end, especially if it opens up other avenues. Too often we sit in our online echo chambers, pontificating about the end result. This is the problem with the 2A crowd- they don’t act. Even if this doesn’t succeed, the publicity adds pressure. Look long term folks- gun controllers certainly are.

    in the interest of being transparent, I am a member of VCDL. I fully support the lawsuit because the video was meant as a denigration of the ingrate gun rights (too stupid to understand the danger), and edited to ensure that interpretation. When did we decide that was ok and all we had to do was play only on our side of the yard?

    • HSR47 says:

      Informing a crowded theater of an actual fire is protected speech. Making the same notification in the absence of an actual fire is not protected speech.

      While the quote of “yelling fire in a crowded theater” is often bandied about, too often the word “falsely” is omitted from the beginning.

      • Whetherman says:

        But, my understanding is that at the time Oliver Wendell Holmes, coined the dopey phrase, was saying that criticizing government policy during WWI was analogous to “crying fire in a crowded theater,” a fail as analogs go, IMO.

        My point is, there always has been a good deal of subjectivity applied to the issue, ever since the phrase was first uttered.

    • Whetherman says:

      “I fully support the lawsuit because the video was meant as a denigration of the ingrate gun rights (too stupid to understand the danger), and edited to ensure that interpretation.”

      At this point I will confess that I’m just being argumentative, while sincerely rooting for VCDL’s attorneys to be right, and for me to be wrong, but:

      Your argument might have a good deal of merit when applied to a private citizen. But as I noted in an earlier comment, politicians do it to each other all the time, with impunity. And, the media does it to them, all the time. VCDL may be made up of ordinary “private citizens” but in their capacity of participating with VCDL, they become part of an overtly “political” entity, which can reasonably expect its opponents to attempt to discredit it.

      If I were placing bets, which I’m not, I would bet that will be the essence of what a court says when it dismisses the suit.

      And I cannot emphasize too much or often, I hope I am wrong. But that’s the way I’d bet.

      Whether or not the suit should have been filed, for other possible motives, is another question.

    • Ian Argent says:

      The “fire in a crowded theater” analogy isn’t even good ConLaw these days.

      At any rate, “falsely shouting fire” is not what you can be prosecuted for today. The injuries that result, though, those you’re responsible for.

  7. RAH says:

    I am not so sure that VCDL has a bad case. After all Hulk Hogan prevailed over Gawker. This was a deliberate case of making a group look bad. That is defamation. Couric even acknowledge this was an error. VCDL is not a public person so malice is not needed

  8. Paul L. says:

    Case has more merit then Mann v. Steyn and that has been in the courts for years.

  9. janklow says:

    going to have to use the WaPo for this, actually (https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2016/09/13/gun-rights-advocates-file-defamation-suit-against-katie-couric-under-the-gun-documentary-makers/?utm_term=.7bd58d09bbd6):

    “That argument, notes the complaint, is part of the six minutes that the gun rights advocates spent answering Couric’s question. Showing the VCDL as dumbfounded required some work on the part of the filmmakers. In coordinating the interview with the VCDL advocates, Couric and a cameraman from Atlas Films told them that they needed to sit in silence for 10 seconds so that the crew could calibrate the “recording equipment.” It was this passage that “Under the Gun” placed in the film instead of the actual answers supplied to the question about background checks.”

    “In the session, Couric’s question verily conceded that the members of the VCDL had answers for the question she was about to pose. Here it is: “If there are no background checks, how do you prevent—I know how you all are going to answer this, but I’m going to ask it anyway — if there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from walking into, say, a licensed gun dealer and purchasing a gun?”

    Bolding inserted to highlight a key point. In the film, that part about knowing how they’ll answer — it’s not in there.”

    “The lawsuit uses those details against Couric & Co.: “Although the Defendants knew that their intentional edits were misleading and misrepresented Couric’s exchange with the VCDL, they refused to remove the manipulated footage or to present the footage of what had actually taken place. Instead, they promoted and released the film including the fictional exchange.””

  10. Old 1811 says:

    I’ve waited over a day for a correction, so . . .
    It’s “Couric,” not “Courick.” Misspelling the name of someone who’s in the news every day makes you look bad and undercuts your credibility.
    I’d like to see her get hammered, but it won’t happen. No proof of malice and no proof of actual damage to reputation.

    • Sebastian says:

      I don’t watch her. I don’t watch TV. I didn’t notice I added the K in the title. Don’t wait for me to notice, point it out. I don’t get paid to do this shit and I have a lot of other things in life that are a higher priority than this blog.

      • Old 1811 says:

        Okay.
        This is the first time I’ve seen that kind of mistake here, and I didn’t want to seem pedantic. Next time (if there is one) I’ll unleash my inner grammar Nazi and jump in with both feet.

      • Whetherman says:

        Gee, thanks for correcting it. Now you left those of us who copied your spelling looking like dopes. :-)

  11. rd says:

    I think they have a stronger case because Katie as Executive Producer and the Director acknowledged their “error,” but did nothing to actually correct it. The copies of the documentary being sold today contain the same false information.

    If they had issued DVDs with the true response or had otherwise corrected their false presentation, then the suit should be dismissed. Want to really hurt them? Make retrieving and reissuing the copies of the documentary as part of the settlement. How many schools and libraries have a copy of the documentary?

  12. Chas says:

    Should be criminal charges against Couric.

  13. Greg says:

    Disclosure I am a executive member of VCDL. I wouldn’t begin to speculate on what the courts will do with this case although I really do hope it’s a win. The one thing that this has already accomplished is the massive publicity it has attracted to the dishonesty of the gun control movement. So much of the push to suppress the second amendment rights of the average citizen is based on false narratives that it had to crash at some point. This may not be that moment but it has brought attention to the lies and fear mongering used daily to regulate gun ownership. The coverage of The suit might just wake a few folks up to the dishonesty of the anti-rights cult that is gun control.. It might slow a hoplophobics also.

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