CNN Films will not be going forward with a controversial planned documentary about Hillary Clinton timed to precede the 2016 presidential race, its director announced earlier today.
Documentarian Charles Ferguson wrote at Huffington Post that he was terminating the project, citing the near-unanimous refusal of persons connected to the Clintons to participate in on-camera interviews.
The documentary had drawn criticism from progressives, conservatives, and CNN employees since its July announcement.
In August, Media Matters founder David Brock called on CNN to cancel the documentary and on NBC to cancel a planned Clinton-based miniseries. In letters to NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt and CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker, Brock wrote that since the projects "could coincide with a potential Clinton presidential campaign, the timing raises too many questions about fairness and conflicts of interest ahead of the 2016 election."
Responding to the news of the project's cancellation, Brock said:
We're gratified that Charles Ferguson did the right thing by backing out of pursuing a project that posed a serious conflict of interest for CNN. His distorted and self-serving account, in which he reveals his anti-Clinton animus, only confirms that our assessment of this film was correct. The threat of misinformation was too high.
Brock's August letters were written in support of previous letters by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, who has also urged both networks to cancel the planned programs.
Priebus even threatened to ban NBC and CNN from hosting GOP primary debates during the 2016 presidential election cycle -- a threat the RNC ultimately fulfilled when it voted in August to exclude the networks if they "continue to move forward" with their Clinton projects. No boycott was threatened for Fox News following reports that Fox News sister company Fox Television Studios might produce NBC's Clinton biopic (Fox subsequently walked away from talks to produce the miniseries).
CNN host Candy Crowley, who moderated the 2012 vice presidential debate, also criticized the Ferguson project, telling Politico last month that the Clinton documentary will "make life more difficult, I think there's no doubt about it." Crowley expressed concern that the public perceives CNN Films and CNN News as parts of the same whole: "You can say all you want, this is a commissioned documentary from people who are not in the employ of CNN. It's not me. It's not Wolf Blitzer. It's not John King. It's an outside documentary group. But we're with CNN and so this is not a story where the nuances are well-received, particularly by Republicans."
NBC Chief White House Correspondent Chuck Todd has also spoken out against NBC Entertainment's planned miniseries, calling it a "total nightmare" that will damage NBC News' credibility.
UPDATE: NBC Entertainment has also canceled its planned Clinton miniseries, saying in a statement: "After reviewing and prioritizing our slate of movie/mini-series development, we've decided that we will no longer continue developing the Hillary Clinton miniseries."