Lights, camera, no action as plug is pulled on two Hillary Clinton films
Documentary maker Charles Ferguson says he encountered near-omerta from Clinton camp
Former US president Bill Clinton with his wife, former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, during the Clinton Global Initiative in New York last month. Photograph: Reuters/Lucas Jackson
Not coming to a screen, big or small, near you are two films that were commissioned by television networks CNN and NBC about the life of Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former first lady and frontrunner for the Democratic presidential candidacy should she decide to run for the White House.
On Monday, Charles Ferguson, the Oscar-winning documentary maker behind Inside Job, the scorching critique of Wall Street and the causes of the 2008 financial crisis, said he was withdrawing from a CNN documentary about Clinton after pressure from her camp and Republicans.
Stonewalled in his attempts to get various Clintonistas to agree to go on camera for interviews, Ferguson, a donor to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008, abandoned the project.
Writing for the Huffington Post website, he said he encountered a near-omerta when he requested access from Clinton’s people to make the documentary.
“When I approached people for interviews, I discovered that nobody, and I mean nobody, was interested in helping me make this film,” he wrote. “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.”
Asked to comment on Ferguson’s claims of stonewalling, a press adviser to Clinton, Nick Merrill, told the USA Today newspaper in an email: “Lights, camera, no reaction.”
Shortly after Ferguson’s announcement, NBC went public to say that it was dropping plans for a drama mini-series, Hillary, which would have starred Diane Lane as Bill Clinton’s wife.
Despite being three years away, there is constant media speculation and cocktail-party chatter in Washington about whether Hillary will run.
Clinton herself is continuously asked, as the media craft ever more creative ways to pose the question to try to inveigle a Yes or No answer out of her.
CNN correspondent Sanya Gupta, at the Clinton foundation’s meeting in New York last month, asked “how important” it would be for the US to elect a female president during a panel discussion. The question drew laughs, including from Clinton.
It “would be a very strong statement,” she replied, but not before saying she would be “taking myself totally out of it” when answering the question.
The media attention on Clinton has been intense even though she has not held a public role since February when she stood down as secretary of state.
There was a publicity black- out around her until last month when she gave an interview to New York magazine. Despite the length of the article, she still gave no definitive answer on whether she would stand again, although her aides said she would.