CNN's Candy Crowley is the latest critic of planned special programming on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, expressing concern that a CNN Films' Clinton documentary would threaten CNN News' reputation for objective reporting.
In July, NBC Entertainment announced plans to produce a Clinton-based miniseries timed to precede the 2016 presidential race, and soon thereafter, CNN Films announced its own intention to produce a feature-length documentary film on Clinton to premiere in 2014.
Though both outlets claim their network's news division will not be involved in the effort, the proposed specials have raised concern about the obvious conflicts of interest involved for NBC and CNN parent companies and the news divisions' ability to report objectively in the event of a 2016 Clinton presidential campaign. Media Matters founder David Brock and RNC chairman Reince Priebus have each called on the outlets to cancel their plans due to these ethical issues.
In recent days, even NBC chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd spoke out against NBC's project, calling it a "total nightmare" for NBC News given the fact that a perceived bias in the miniseries -- whether for or against Clinton -- will damage NBC News' credibility for objective reporting.
Now, CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley is voicing her own concern over CNN's plans, telling Politico the Clinton documentary will "make life more difficult, I think there's no doubt about it." Like Todd, Crowley expressed concern that to the public, CNN News and CNN Films are arms of the same machine: “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.”
Crowley's concerns come as CNN finds itself under scrutiny for its reporting in an August 6 special focused on the September 11, 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya. Even the network's teases for The Truth About Benghazi were riddled with inaccuracies, and the feature itself was no different. Host Erin Burnett and correspondent John King filled the special with right-wing talking points about the Obama administration's response to the Benghazi attacks, repeatedly asking questions about conspiracy theories the network itself had debunked months before.
Just last month, CNN president Jeff Zucker told Fortune magazine that a "valid criticism" of CNN is that the network does not dedicate enough air time to conservative points of view. Given Zucker's apparent desire to reach out to more right-wing voices and the network's fumbling of its Benghazi reporting, CNN's ability to air a Clinton documentary without sacrificing its integrity for impartiality appears questionable, and legitimizes Crowley's concerns.