Media Matters Joins Priebus Call for Networks to Cancel Clinton Films

Wednesday, 07 Aug 2013 10:53 AM

By Melanie Batley

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A liberal watchdog group has joined the Republican call for NBC and CNN to cancel planned film projects on Hillary Clinton, increasing pressure on the networks to avoid the appearance of promoting the former secretary of state as a possible 2016 presidential contender.

Media Matters of America founder and longtime Clinton ally David Brock sent out letters to NBC and CNN on Tuesday backing Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus' demand that the networks cancel a film and documentary on Clinton.

Priebus on Monday sent out a letter of his own to NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt and CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker threatening to pull their rights to sponsor GOP primary debates in the 2016 campaign if they went forward with their Clinton projects.

In his own letters to Zucker and Greenblatt, Brock said, "Given that this project could coincide with a potential Clinton campaign, the timing raises too many questions about fairness and conflicts of interest ahead of the 2016 election."

He asks Greenblatt, "Will you allow NBC News' name to be tarnished by NBC Entertainment's pursuit of ratings?" adding, "NBC has a reputation for objectivity and fairness. Yet NBC Entertainment acknowledged that it will be evaluating the content not by journalistic standards, but rather purely by entertainment value. A fictionalized caricature of Clinton may make for more dramatic appeal, but diversions from reality are likely to blow back on NBC News."

And he tells Zucker, "Airing a film about only one of the many potential 2016 presidential candidates demonstrates unintentional favoritism and could tarnish your network's reputation for objectivity and undermine your credibility."

Brock, who also heads the American Bridge super PAC that recently launched an initiative called "Correct the Record" to protect Clinton and other Democrats from so-called "Republican smears," offered a view on why the networks should heed Priebus' warning.

"How will your network respond to the right-wing noise machine that is already pressuring you to adopt its ideological lens on Clinton?" he asked both network heads.

"Unless you are prepared to answer these concerns, those raised by Mr. Priebus, and others that will likely arise in the future, I call on you to reconsider this programming," he added.

The Priebus threat — in which he said he would work to persuade Republicans to block the two networks from hosting GOP primary debates in 2016 unless the Clinton shows were pulled — was prompted by NBC's announcement that it plans to air a four-hour miniseries entitled "Hillary," which the network says will track "Clinton's life as a wife, mother, politician, and cabinet member." At the same, CNN is also planning a feature-length documentary about Clinton that will be shown on network stations and also in select theaters across the country.

In his letters to the networks, Priebus expressed "deep disappointment" over their decisions to produce films "promoting former Secretary Hillary Clinton ahead of her likely candidacy for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016."

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