Sunday 21 January 2018

Film-maker blames political pressure as Hillary Clinton documentary cancelled

Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to run for president in 2016
Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to run for president in 2016

Liana B. Baker and Gabriel Debenedetti

CNN has dropped plans for a documentary on Hillary Rodham Clinton as the filmmaker charged in a scathing online essay accusing the Democrats and Republicans of meddling.

"Neither political party wanted the film made," Charles Ferguson said in a blog post today on the Huffington Post website.

Ferguson, who was tapped by CNN to direct the film last year, said he began receiving messages from Clinton's staff almost immediately after he signed the contract and in the ensuing months found it difficult to get anyone to speak to him.

"But when 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," Ferguson wrote.

A CNN spokeswoman confirmed the film would be cancelled.

Clinton's office did not return a request for comment.

Clinton is widely expected to run for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination. The former US secretary of state has said she is still considering her options.

In his blog post, Ferguson also cited pushback from Republicans whose leaders complained that the documentary amounted to political ads for Clinton, a former US senator from New York and the wife of former President Bill Clinton.

The Republican National Committee in August threatened to boycott any 2016 presidential debates sponsored by CNN. The RNC today took some credit for Ferguson's decision to axe the film.

"This was only the first step in the Republican Party taking control of our debate process," spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said.

Republicans still planned to boycott Comcast-owned NBC, which is planning a dramatic miniseries from its entertainment division. The four-hour miniseries stars Diane Lane as Clinton. Fox Television Studios, the unit of Fox that produces TV shows, passed on the project in August.

The RNC posted a statement on its website saying "CNN cancelled, now NBC must do the same." NBC did not respond to a request for comment.

The filmmaker said he was not pressured by CNN to cancel the project, and that the network's president, Jeff Zucker, had pledged his support for the film.

Ferguson is best known for his 2010 documentary "Inside Job" a critical look at Wall Street and what led to the 2008 financial crisis. It won an Academy Award in 2010 for best documentary film. An earlier documentary he produced and directed, "No End in Sight: The American Occupation of Iraq," received film festival awards.

Ferguson said he was surprised that "prominent Democrats made it known both to CNN and to me" that they weren't happy with the project.

"After painful reflection, I decided that I couldn't make a film of which I would be proud. And so I'm cancelling," Ferguson said in the blog post.

"It's a victory for the Clintons, and for the money machines that both political parties have now become. But I don't think that it's a victory for the media, or for the American people," he wrote, adding of Clinton, "this is not her finest hour."


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