CNN Films Cancels Hillary Clinton Documentary
UPDATE: Pressure from Democrats and Republicans puts an end to the highly anticipated project.
CNN Films will not continue with its upcoming documentary about Hillary Clinton after director Charles H. Ferguson backed away from the project.
"Charles Ferguson has informed us that he is not moving forward with his documentary about Hillary Clinton," a CNN spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter. "Charles is an Academy Award-winning director who CNN Films was excited to be working with, but we understand and respect his decision."
CNN will not be proceeding with the film after Ferguson chose not to move forward, THR has confirmed.
Ferguson said he struggled to find sources and interview subjects for the project, as both supporters and opponents of Clinton were unwilling to cooperate, he wrote in a Huffington Post column.
"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. Not even journalists who want access, which can easily be taken away," Ferguson wrote. "I even sensed potential difficulty in licensing archival footage from [Pat Robertson's] CBN 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."
Ferguson said he became aware, through his work on the film, that both the Republican and Democratic parties didn't want the film made.
"Quietly and privately, prominent Democrats made it known both to CNN and to me that they weren't delighted with the film," he wrote.
This summer, the Republican National Committee voted to ban 2016 primary debates from CNN due to the documentary.
"There are forces out there that want to divide our party. But we’re not going to let them get in the way of our mission -- whether they’re naysayers or news networks," said RNC chairman Reince Priebus in prepared remarks at the organization's summer meeting in Boston. "That’s why we said to the media, with a united voice, that a network that spends millions to spotlight Hillary Clinton is a network with an obvious bias. And that’s a network that won’t be hosting a single Republican primary debate."
NBC had also planned a miniseries about the former secretary of state, leading the RNC to ban its networks from 2016 primary debates; however, many at NBCUniversal now believe that project won't happen either.
Ferguson also wrote that the day after he signed a contract to do the film, he was interrogated by Clinton's press secretary, Nick Merrill, who would not grant his request for an off-the-record conversation with the former secretary of state.
Further attempts to talk to Clinton were also unsuccessful.
Clinton aide Philippe Reines also contacted various people at CNN, interrogated them and expressed concerns about his documentary, Ferguson wrote.
"After painful reflection, I decided that I couldn't make a film of which I would be proud. And so I'm cancelling. (Not because of any pressure from CNN -- quite the contrary.) 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," Ferguson wrote.