Mediate reports that “John Stossel will step down from hosting his weekly Fox Business program, Stossel, this month.” Separately, Stossel announced on Facebook that the special he is airing on Friday, 12/16 will be his last show on Fox Business.
Mediate adds, however, that Stossel will “be working with ReasonTV to start up a libertarian-themed internet platform. He’ll also serve as an educator with the Charles Koch Institute’s new Creative Fellows Program.” Stossel has been a prolific libertarian documentary filmmaker, and a few of his documentaries were reviewed over the years at MissLiberty.com. Many Stossel clips can be found on YouTube.
Charge: sequence in film was ‘work of fiction’ that damaged reputation of commentators.
Gun rights advocates don’t enjoy being falsely depicted as dimwits who can’t answer the most basic of questions about their No. 1 public policy issue.
Erik Wemple reports: That’s the takeaway from a defamation lawsuit filed today against Katie Couric and the producers of “Under the Gun,” a documentary about gun violence in the United States. Having debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January, the documentary itself came under the gun in May, when members of the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) claimed that it slighted them by mal-editing an interview in which they’d participated. In response to a question from Couric, the film’s narrator, the gun rights advocates were depicted as sitting in baffled silence for nearly 10 seconds.
In fact, they had supplied an extensive response to Couric’s question.
Many onlookers, including the Erik Wemple Blog, blasted the film for this portrayal. Couric, the global anchor of Yahoo News, initially stood by the product but ultimately apologized for the “misleading” edit. The film’s director, Stephanie Soechtig, wasn’t so contrite. “I think it’s sad to say that these eight seconds didn’t give the VCDL a platform to speak. Their views are expressed repeatedly throughout the film; we know how they feel about background checks. They said it earlier in the film,” said Soechtig in an interview after the furor.
Intransigence of that sort may bedevil Soechtig in a legal action filed by the VCDL and two gun rights defenders in the film — Daniel Hawes and Patricia Webb — against Couric, Soechtig, Atlas Films and Epix, the documentary’s distributor. Filed in a Virginia federal court by Elizabeth Locke of Clare Locke LLP, the complaint states, “The Defendants manipulated the footage in service of an agenda: they wanted to establish that there is no basis for opposing background checks, by fooling viewers into believing that even a panel of pro-Second Amendment advocates could not provide one.” It seeks compensatory damages of $12 million, and punitive damages of $350,000 per plaintiff.
The filmmakers gave this particular lawsuit a galloping start, with a dreadful sequence that comes less than a half-hour into the one-hour-and-45-minute documentary. Seated in a circle are members of the VCDL against a dark backdrop. Couric asks this question: “If there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing a gun?” In response, the VCDL members say precisely nothing. They stare into space, or at the floor. Brain-freeze appears to have enveloped them.
As the suit notes, this depiction is a “work of fiction.” The VCDL members actually filled Couric’s ear; Hawes, for example, said this:
The fact is we do have statutes, both at the federal and state level that prohibit classes of people from being in possession of firearms. If you’re under 18, in Virginia, you can’t walk around with a gun. If you’re an illegal immigrant, if you’re a convicted felon, if you’ve been adjudicated insane, these things are already illegal. So, what we’re really asking about is a question of prior restraint. How can we prevent future crime by identifying bad guys before they do anything bad? And, the simple answer is you can’t. And, particularly, under the legal system we have in the United States, there are a lot of Supreme Court opinions that say, “No, prior restraint is something that the government does not have the authority to do.” Until there is an overt act that allows us to say, “That’s a bad guy,” then you can’t punish him.
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. The suit alleges that this moment carried particular implications for each of the named plaintiffs in the case. Webb is a licensed firearms dealer (Gadsden Guns Inc.), and the edits indicate that “she lacks knowledge regarding background checks — a requirement for every gun sale she does,” argues the complaint. Hawes is an attorney who handles cases involving firearms, and the film suggests that “he lacks the legal expertise and oral advocacy skills required to perform his duties.” Read the rest of this entry »
Just in time for the holidays, The Star Wars Libertarian Special features Senate filibusters, border patrol stops, eminent domain, a guest appearance by Edward Snowden, and rarely seen footage from Chewbacca‘s galaxy-trotting documentary series about free-market economics.
Anthony Ha writes: Earlier this week, I joined a group of journalists to meet with director Alex Gibney and discuss his new film, Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine — and the first thing he did was put away his iPhone.
It was no big deal, but the action took a little extra humor and weight since the documentary is all about our relationship with Jobs and the products he created. It opens with footage of the mass outpouring of grief after Jobs’ death in 2011, and the rest of the movie asks: Why did people feel so much attachment to the CEO of an enormous tech company? And is Jobs really worthy of such admiration?
“The way the Jobs film ends, there’s no prescription there. To me, the best films are the ones that force you, not force you but encourage you to take something out of the theater and the questions roll around you in your head.”
Gibney isn’t trying to convince people that they should stop buying Apple products — after all, he’s still got that iPhone. Instead the aim is to raise questions about Jobs’ values and the influence those values had on the rest of Silicon Valley (where Gibney often sees a similar “rough-and-tumble libertarian vibe”).
“The film is not a slam. The film is a meditation on this guy’s life and what it meant to us. It’s not so simple.”
“The way the Jobs film ends, there’s no prescription there,” he said. “To me, the best films are the ones that force you, not force you but encourage you to take something out of the theater and the questions roll around you in your head.”
On the other hand, the film’s ability to address those questions may have been hampered by the fact that many people declined to be interviewed — there’s no Steve Wozniak, no one currently at Apple, and the closest you get to Jobs’ family is Chrisann Brennan, the mother of his first child Lisa. In fact, Gibney recounted how Apple employees walked out of a screening of the movie at South by Southwest — at the time, Apple’s Eddy Cue tweeted that it was “an inaccurate and mean-spirited view of my friend.” Read the rest of this entry »
Horace Luke, CEO of the Taipei startup Gogoro, reimagines the scooter for the modern city from the wheels up. Video: Diana Jou Photo: Joyu Wang
[VIDEO] First trailer for Former Gawker COO’s ‘Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine’ Documentary ReleasedPosted: July 25, 2015
Magnolia Pictures and CNN Films today debuted the first trailer for the upcoming biographical film centered around Steve Jobs. “Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine” was originally premiered earlier this year at SXSW and is spearheaded by director Alex Gibney and executive producer Gaby Darbyshire, who is the former Chief Operating Officer of Gawker Media.
Darbyshire headed up Gawker legal when the media company’s subsidiary Gizmodo bought the iPhone 4 that was “left at the bar” and would have been at the center of the controversy that surrounded the subsequent firestorm with Apple and then CEO Steve Jobs. Read the rest of this entry »
Narrated by Tim Allen (voice of Buzz Lightyear), this is a complete behind-the-scenes feature on the $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE, the largest incentivized prize in history. Adapted from the award-winning digital planetarium show, the 24-minute movie chronicles 18 teams from around the world looking to make history by landing a privately funded robotic spacecraft on the Moon. This global competition is designed to spark imagination and inspire a renewed commitment to space exploration, not by governments or countries – but by the citizens of the world. Learn more
Here’s the new trailer, first unveiled on The Kelly File: Having made the second-highest-grossing political documentary of all time, the team behind 2016: Obama’s America is now, as promised, following up with America. Sending up some fireworks of his own to rival the ones 2016 generated, producer-writer and kind-of host Dinesh D’Souza says of his new docu, “We answer the central moral challenge of America’s critics, which is that America’s greatness is based on theft, plunder and oppression.” Listen for other red-button phrases from interviewees describing the USA as “the new evil empire” and a “predatory colonial power” as well as referring to Mount Rushmore as “a symbol of oppression and genocide to our people.” Director John Sullivan’s film comes out two years after its predecessors — hitting theaters on the Fourth of July…(read more) Deadline.com
at the DC Auto Show. The subject he chose for his first full length documentary, is the cronyism that he believes brought down Detroit. In the documentary, he examines why Detroit failed and what rest of the country needs to do and avoid Detroit’s fate.
Here’s the trailer:
The website for Bankrupt is here. It will be freely available on YouTube after the premiere.
Dr. Helen Smith writes:
“I often get requests to see my video Six about a group of teenagers who killed a family in East Tennessee. I am no longer selling the documentary, but PJM has been kind enough to upload it to YouTube so that PJM readers can watch it if they wish. It is now almost a decade old but much of the complexity of mass murder still holds true today. I hope my readers find it of interest.”
With recent crimes and mass shootings, the national debate has shifted to questions of mental health, parenting, and the ability of the legal system to deal with troubled youths. These are all issues that PJ Media contributor Dr. Helen Smith addressed in an award-winning 2003 documentary. Her film “Six,” featured in programming on A&E and WeTV, tells the story of a group of Kentucky teens who murdered a family of Jehovah’s Witnesses despite clear warning signs. Though many want to blame violence on guns, the factors involving violence are much more complex than simply blaming a weapon. Watch the documentary, and see what happens when the system fails, as it all too often does.