The documentary "2016: Obama's America" has been dominating headlines over the past week after it broke records at the American box office. But now, at the height of interest surrounding the movie, there seems to be a bit of controversy brewing. John Sullivan, executive producer and co-director (author and academic Dinesh D‘Souza also directed and narrated the film), is claiming that CNN rejected an ad for the documentary because it is simply "too political."
While the ad has already run on similar media outlets -- FOX News, MSNBC, Discovery Channel and A&E, among others, CNN refused to air it, according to an interview that Sullivan did with Entertainment Weekly. In describing the purported rejection, the filmmaker called it "a really weird situation" and said that it was "really funny" to see it unfold.
"They said it was ‘too political,’ which is very odd because we have no affiliation with any political party of any sort, or PAC, or anything of that nature," Sullivan explained.
But CNN is singing a very different tune about the incident, claiming that the media outlet didn't "reject" the ad, per se. Instead, a spokesperson explained that the network asked the filmmakers to explain why the ad would not, in their view, fall under political advertising disclosure regulations. After reaching out to get an explanation, the spokesperson claims that the "2016" filmmakers didn't respond.
Here's a trailer for the film:
Entertainment Weekly explains the disclosure rules that CNN expressed fears over, while also highlighting MSNBC's view that there was no legal conflict that would have prevented the network from airing it:
The network’s concern was a Federal Election Commission rule that states any telecast advocating for the election or defeat of a federal candidate must have its funding source revealed in a disclaimer notice (“Paid for by…”). Such notices are standard on political ads, yet might be unprecedented for a popular theatrical film. An MSNBC spokesperson said the commercial ran without a disclaimer, like a regular movie ad. “The ad was approved through NBC News standards and practices before air,” an MSNBC spokesperson said.
Considering the overall cost of "2016" -- a modest $2.5 million (modest in terms of Hollywood's standards) -- it has already brought in a whopping $9.4 million since it first premiered, in a limited capacity, seven weeks ago. While CNN expressed fears over the film's funding, Sullivan brushed these issues off, maintaining that there was no corporate money given for its production. Instead, it was funded by what he calls "a broad base of investors."
"There’s no grand investor conspiracy here," he maintains.
A second ad for the film is being distributed to media and Sullivan is hopeful that CNN will accept it. So far, no word has been released as to whether the network has seen the spot -- or whether it will abandon its fears and air it as other media outlets did the ad that preceded it.
(H/T: Entertainment Weekly)