The right and left of American politics may agree on very little, but this week they are united on at least one issue: films about Hillary Clinton.
The chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC) and the founder of the progressive media watchdog, Media Matters for America, have both condemned NBC and CNN for the TV networks’ planned Clinton programming.
Last week, CNN announced it would produce a documentary about the former Secretary of State, directed by Charles H Ferguson, who also made the acclaimed 2010 film about the financial crisis, Inside Job. NBC recently unveiled plans for a dramatic mini-series, starring Diane Lane as Ms Clinton. Both projects presumably anticipate a Hillary bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.
On Monday, RNC chairman Reince Priebus wrote to the heads of both news networks, describing their small-screen projects as “thinly veiled [attempts] at putting a thumb on the scales of the 2016 presidential election” and threatening to deny NBC and CNN the right to moderate or sponsor any of his own party’s primary debates during the race, unless they scrapped the films.
In a statement, Mr Priebus said: “It’s appalling to know executives at major networks like NBC and CNN who have donated to Democrats and Hillary Clinton have taken it upon themselves to be Hillary Clinton’s campaign operatives.” A day later, he was joined in his criticism of the projects by an unlikely ally: David Brock, founder of Media Matters and a Clinton supporter. Mr Brock, too, wrote to NBC and CNN, arguing that since the mini-series and documentary might coincide with Ms Clinton’s mooted presidential campaign, “the timing raises too many questions about fairness and conflicts of interest”.
Mr Priebus said the projects may offer an unwarranted profile boost to a Democrat candidate, Mr Brock is driven partly by the fear that the films will actually be critical of Ms Clinton.
Responding to Mr Priebus’s letter, CNN said: “Instead of making premature decisions about a project that is in the very early stages of development and months from completion, we would encourage members of the Republican National Committee to reserve judgement until they know more.”
NBC said the mini-series was unconnected to its news operation.