Sept. 30: After criticism from both sides of the political aisle, a documentary filmmaker has decided to abandon a project about the life of Hillary Clinton that he had planned to make for CNN.
In a commentary posted today on The Huffington Post, the filmmaker, Charles H. Ferguson, said that pressure from Clinton advisers who did not want the film made ultimately became too intense. “I decided that I couldn’t make a film of which I would be proud,” he wrote. And so I’m cancelling.”
The documentary had planned to explore Hillary Clinton’s life and career from her days working at the Rose law firm in Little Rock, Arkansas, to her time as first lady and years as a New York senator. The CNN film was the second major project on Hillary Clinton announced this summer, following a mini-series that NBC said it was developing, with Diane Lane set to star as Clinton.
Both projects quickly became lightning rods. Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, called the planned film a “thinly veiled attempt at putting a thumb on the scales of the 2016 presidential election” and threatened to refuse to partner with CNN or NBC on any presidential primary debates if the networks moved forward with the projects.
But according to Ferguson, it was not pressure from the Republicans that ultimately ended the CNN documentary. He said Hillary Clinton’s aides had over the last three months exerted pressure on prospective sources and had made it nearly impossible to gain access.
Ferguson said nearly everyone he reached out to declined to participate in the film. “I don’t think I would’ve even been able to get talking heads,” he said.
In his essay, he declared his failure to win the access he needed “a victory for the Clintons, and for the money machines that both political parties have now become”.