CNN movie on Hillary Clinton is dead, says director. Lame!

September 30, 2013
The Clinton family. (Jin Lee/Bloomberg)
The Clinton family. (Jin Lee/Bloomberg)

Fifth in a massive series on the media’s treatment of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The way Charles Ferguson tells it in a Huffington Post piece, he wasn’t stymied by the initial, negative reaction to the news that he’d be directing a CNN film on Hillary Rodham Clinton. He wasn’t stymied by the refusal of Clinton herself to make herself available for a private, off-the-record conversation. He wasn’t stymied by the work of Philippe Reines, who, he says, “contacted various people at CNN, interrogated them, and expressed concern about alleged conflicts of interest generated because my film was a for-profit endeavor (as nearly all documentaries and news organizations are).” Nor was he stymied by disapproval from Republicans and various others.

What induced the Academy Award-winning director to kill the project, as he announced today, was this:

[W]hen I approached people for interviews, I discovered that nobody, and I mean nobody, was interested in helping me make this film. Not Democrats, not Republicans — and certainly nobody who works with the Clintons, wants access to the Clintons, or dreams of a position in a Hillary Clinton administration. Not even journalists who want access, which can easily be taken away. I even sensed potential difficulty in licensing archival footage from CBN (Pat Robertson) and from Fox. After approaching well over a hundred people, only two persons who had ever dealt with Mrs. Clinton would agree to an on-camera interview, and I suspected that even they would back out.

So journalism is tough? That’s the reason you’re cancelling a high-visibility documentary on the most pivotal figure in American politics today?

The Erik Wemple Blog has written about the degree to which Clintonland is “locked down.” (See item No. 3 below). That makes the project more delicious, more enticing than it would be otherwise. Perhaps Ferguson can now take on beach erosion, or something.

CNN issued this statement: “Charles Ferguson has informed us that he is not moving forward with his documentary about Hillary Clinton. Charles is an Academy Award winning director who CNN Films was excited to be working with, but we understand and respect his decision.”

Previously in this series:

No. 1: Commentator on MSNBC: White guy can’t ‘appreciate’ Hillary Clinton’s historic-ness

No. 2: Hillary Clinton profile whitewashes Benghazi.

No. 3: Clintonland “locked down,” Alec MacGillis says.

No. 4: Cokie Roberts on MSNBC: ‘Some … tea party anger is racist

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.
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Erik Wemple | September 30, 2013