Just one day after Fed Up, the 2014 documentary on food obesity and the food industry produced and narrated by Yahoo! Global News Anchor Katie Couric was criticized for “deceptive editing,” the Weinstein Company – which is the film's distributor – called for two interviews to be taken down from the YouTube website where the movie is available for viewing.
According to an article by Stephen Gutowski of the Washington Free Beacon website, Yahoo lists the “takedown” request as “manually detected” even though the news site “initiated a counter-notification requesting that the videos be reinstated on fair use grounds since the videos are the subject of a news report.”
As a result, the Free Beacon has moved the videos to another platform and re-inserted them into the original story while the dispute is settled by YouTube.
Directed by Stephanie Soechtig, the videos feature two interviews with experts who hold viewpoints counter to the narrative of Fed Up in which the film's producers are accused of unethical editing techniques.
After a brief exchange in the film between Dr. David Allison -- director of the Nutrition Obesity Research Center -- Couric asked whether or not sugary beverages contribute more to obesity than other foods,
She then asked Allison about the science behind his objections, and he began explaining before stumbling and asking Couric if he could pause to “get my thoughts together.”
Allison is then shown pausing for several seconds before the film cuts to another interview.
He “is not shown again in the film,” Gutowski stated.
Allison told the reporter:
Of course I gave an answer. I gave an answer to every question she asked me in a 90-minute interview that was a barrage of questions.
And out of a 90-minute interview, she chose to show the approximately 10 seconds when I paused and said: “Let me collect my thoughts.”
“The other video featured an interview with former Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation spokesperson Lisa Gable,” Gutowski noted. “Industry sources say the audio of the interview was manipulated to embarrass Gable.”
“An audio clip of the off-camera interviewer saying she didn’t believe Gable was answering her questions did not occur at the moment it is portrayed in the film, according to the sources,” the Free Beacon reporter stated.
“That response from the producer didn’t actually follow that particular exchange and was edited to make it look like that was how their conversation actually went,” one source said.
“The scene in question features Soechtig and Gable discussing whether the food industry would remove products from store shelves under a deal struck with the White House,” Gutowski stated.
“At the end of the exchange, the director can be heard off camera saying Gable was avoiding her question,” he noted. “The spokesperson is then shown sitting silently for about three seconds before the film cuts to another interview.”
“She is badgered about companies’ willingness to reformulate their products, to which the producer answers: ‘It feels like you’re avoiding the question,' an industry source told the Free Beacon.
But “that response from the producer didn’t actually follow that particular exchange and was edited to make it look like that was how their conversation actually went.”
A second person with knowledge of the incident confirmed the account and said: “It was apparent in the Fed Up documentary that all interviewees were not treated equally.”
“Numerous email and telephone requests for comment to Couric and Soechtig received no response,” he noted.
The new accusations of misleading editing in Fed Up comes after criticism of a deceptive edit included in Couric and Soechtig’s 2016 documentary Under the Gun.
The filmmakers edited in several seconds of silence during a scene featuring Couric questioning a group of gun rights activists. An audio recording of the interview shows the silence did not occur.
Soon after the documentary was released, Couric stated the editing of the film was “a poor mistake” and an “unnecessary" blunder.
In addition, Joe Scarborough, co-host of MSNBC's Morning Joe program, blasted the production as "one of the most stunning things I've ever seen,” a “purposely biased” documentary and “just a complete hit job on a group of Americans."
Meanwhile, John Lott, a gun rights expert and president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, said a four-hour interview he did with Under the Gun producers was left on the cutting room floor.
Virginia Citizens Defense League President Philip Van Cleave said his two-hour interview was also cut from the documentary.
“Couric’s approach appears to be to protect her viewers from even knowing that there are any arguments on the other side,” Lott said.