Will HBO's Benghazi Film Pull Punches, Impact 2016 Presidential Campaign?

Will HBO's Benghazi Film Pull Punches, Impact 2016 Presidential Campaign?

HBO has worked long and hard to burnish its reputation as one of television’s most liberal outposts.

The premium cable channel is responsible for biased documentaries (Reagan), hard-left original fare (Real Time with Bill Maher, The Newsroom) and two of the more partisan features in recent cable history (Game Change, Recount).

Now, HBO is prepping a movie based on the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, a subject that could cause distress for Hillary Clinton as she mulls a 2016 presidential run. Any investigation into the attack that left four Americans dead can’t be good for the former Secretary of State, but will HBO pull its narrative punches in its presentation?

The film is being produced by industry veteran Jerry Weintraub, who generally leans right but is busy producing a climate change docu-series for rival network Showtime. The Benghazi project will be based on Fred Burton and Samuel M. Katz’s book Under Fire: The Untold Story of the Attack in Benghazi.

Even if the film gets on the proverbial fast track and is shown in late 2014 or early 2015, it still could influence voters mulling their choices for 2016. HBO films routinely win Emmy nominations, and if the finished product is of high quality the production’s shelf life could linger longer than its small screen debut.

Just the news that HBO is covering Benghazi in such a fashion could have a ripple effect across the media.

Mainstream news outlets have been reticent to cover the Benghazi attack as the situation demanded, but with the HBO film and a separate Benghazi project already under way, pressure may mount to take the subject–and its tragic deaths–more seriously.