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Bipartisanship: CNN Cancels Hillary Doc, Under Pressure from… Team Hillary

The Republican National Committee trumpeted its outrage this summer, but it should have been clear the Clinton camp wanted this no more than the GOP

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Daniel Acker / Bloomberg / Getty Images

Hillary Clinton speaks during the Clinton Global Initiative CGI America meeting in Chicago, June 13, 2013.

Update: NBC has also given its Hillary Clinton piece the axe.

So remember this summer, when the Biggest Story in All of Politics was the Republican National Committee’s outrage that NBC and CNN were preparing TV projects about Hillary Clinton? How these constituted a massive campaign contribution to a potential Hillary ’16 Presidential run? How the liberal media was liberally doing liberal Hillary a liberal favor, and by God, the RNC would not stand for it even if it meant denying NBC and CNN the entertainment of whoever ends up being the next Herman Cain and Rick Perry in the 2016 debates?

Well, this morning Politico is reporting that CNN has canceled its project, a planned documentary by Charles H. Ferguson, largely because of resistance from the purported beneficiaries, Team Hillary. Where the RNC protested by voting not to hold debates on NBC or CNN (not necessarily a stand of principle, given the party establishment wanted to reduce debates next cycle), Clinton associates hit the project where it lived, by refusing to participate in interviews. According to Politico, hardly any associates were willing to go on camera to speak about the former First Lady and Secretary of State.

(MORERobert Reich: My Date with Hillary Clinton)

It’s a bad precedent for a TV network to cancel a political documentary under pressure from any interested party–the subject or her rivals. It only emboldens political advocates to lobby against programming in the future. The fact that active politicans won’t like it is not a good reason to avoid making programming about active politicians. That said, I can only take Ferguson, a widely respected filmmaker, at his word when he says that the lack of access simply made it impossible to do the documentary he planned.

But the whole episode simply highlights what a manufactured controversy the Clinton shows were to begin with. As I wrote at the time, the last group likely to want this kind of attention to Hillary on TV are Hillary supporters, who–given her presumed frontrunner status–have little to gain and much to lose from high-profile media projects they do not control.

The RNC was never really under a threat from a potential CNN Hillary documentary. (Nor, likely, does it have legitimate worries about an NBC miniseries, especially when it is in the early development stages and stands a good chance of never being made.) But the nontroversy gave it the opportunity to get free cred with its base by getting in a fight with the media–always a no-lose, no-cost proposition–while cutting back on the primary debates that that same base relied on in 2012 to get traction for insurgent candidates.

Meanwhile, Team Hillary gets what it wants, the status quo ante. We may not have a deal on the government shutdown or the debt ceiling, but who says bipartisanship is impossible?

WATCH: Hillary Clinton Wine!

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