Bozell Column: The Death of the Hillary Movies

October 5th, 2013 8:00 AM

On the same day, CNN and NBC both dropped their plans to make movies about Hillary Clinton. Interestingly, it looks like a win both for the Clintons and for RNC chair Reince Priebus, who boldly told the two networks that they wouldn’t be moderating any GOP presidential debates in 2015 or 2016 with those promotional films in the pipeline.

Apologies might be owed from The Wall Street Journal editorial page, which prematurely waved a white flag: "God grant Reince Priebus the serenity to accept liberal media bias...The Hollywood-media complex is going to line up hard behind Hillary's 2016 Presidential bid, and this is the first salvo. Mr. Priebus can't stop it, he can't even hope to contain it, so all he has done is open himself to complaints that he's acting as Lord Republican Media Censor."

The same charges of censorship aren’t often lobbed at the Clintons, whose idea of "message discipline" doesn’t just pertain to their own statements, but toward "discipline" of anyone who might damage their lifelong narrative of ambition.

Charles Ferguson, the leftist documentarian signed up by CNN Films, wrote a commentary for The Huffington Post explaining why he was canceling his movie. "When I approached people for interviews, I discovered that nobody, and I mean nobody, was interested in helping me make this film. 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."

Then he added: "Not even journalists who want access, which can easily be taken away."

Ferguson’s road to nowhere began with a Hillary Clinton functionary named Nick Merrill. "He interrogated me; at first I answered, but eventually I stopped." Hillary would not agree to an off-the-record conversation. Longtime aide Phillippe Reines "contacted various people at CNN, interrogated them, and expressed concern about alleged conflicts of interest generated because my film was a for-profit endeavor."

CNN declined to comment on this pressure campaign. Ferguson said he believed that Clinton aides tried to stonewall his attempts to persuade people to talk on camera. "They knew this wasn’t a whitewash," he said. "And my very strong impression was that anything other than a whitewash is something they don’t want to support."

Such is the power the Clintons wield over the national media.

There is still one Hillary movie project on the horizon, a biographical film called "Rodham" that focuses on Hillary’s 1974 work for the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate probe. An early script leak to the Daily Beast had fictional – and sensationalistic -- elements., Hillary is asked if she and Bill have premarital sex, and she replies "It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘sex’ means."

The leaked script also suggests Hillary had a flirty relationship with Bill Weld, the future liberal Republican governor of Massachusetts (who also served on the House Watergate effort). That ends when young Slick Willie calls on her birthday and plays the saxophone over the telephone, both "Happy Birthday" and "Hail to the Chief." This apparently seals their lifelong bond.

The early script also had Hillary dropping all kinds of F-bombs, especially of the "mother" variety, "much to Bill’s delight." It shouldn’t be shocking to find that the movie-makers are hiking backwards on this vulgar trail. James Ponsoldt, the director attached to the project, told The Atlantic Wire that he's "not really interested in airing the dirty laundry of famous people" and the story "predates any of the feelings people have about the Clintons, for better or for worse,” but that is simply not true.

The New York Times reported that a "person briefed on the film's progress said the script had been toned down" after the script leaked, and "The new version, this person said, will be more genteel, with a greater focus on the love story." Because, as we all know, the Clintons would like the media elites to describe Bill’s romantic style as "more genteel."

It remains to be seen if this Watergate-era project is any more likely to be finished than the CNN and NBC films. It currently has no cast and no financing. The political Seventies aren’t churning out hits.  In recent years, Oliver Stone’s “Nixon” and Ron Howard’s “Frost/Nixon” grossed $13 million and $18 million in America, respectively.

The likeliest Hillary movie on the horizon is another documentary from the feisty conservatives of Citizens United. When they produced "Hillary: The Movie" in 2008, Clinton liberals took them all the way to the Supreme Court, only to lose. Part Deux should be a doozy.