Ben Stein Calls CNN Nixon Film 'Extremely One-Sided'

Former Nixon speechwriter Ben Stein took a shot at new CNN film "Our Nixon" on Wednesday, calling it "extremely one-sided." The film will air on CNN Thursday night at 8 p.m. ET. This comes as CNN plans to roll out a film about Hillary Clinton, the maker of which is "excited" to tell of her "fascinating life and work."

Stein acknowledged that the Nixon film "is a great documentary. But it's extremely one-sided." He added that "the first hour is absolutely fabulous. Mesmerizing, as you said, unbelievably interesting. The second hour is very one-sided. Because it talks about how he got brought down by Watergate. But it doesn't talk about how he sat up a generation of peace."

CNN contributor John Avlon responded that "Ben Stein is viewing the world through Nixon-colored glasses" but added, in a positive light, that because of visiting China and starting the EPA, Nixon was "really a different breed of Republican than we see today."

CNN promoted "Our Nixon" on Wednesday by playing a clip of him railing against the TV show "All In the Family" for "glorifying homosexuality." Nixon added that "The last six Roman emperors were fags" and "homosexuality, immorality in general, these are the enemies of strong societies."

"His former adviser tells me about his boss's demons," anchor Brooke Baldwin noted after a part of the clip played. CNN, which has been quite hostile to opponents of gay marriage, didn't explain why it showed that particular clip of Nixon, and Stein called them out on it:

"Nixon had, among his staff, some of his top staffers were homosexuals. He knew they were homosexuals. He knew they were gay. He was perfectly down with it. And so this idea of taking one little snippet and making it seem like Nixon was virulently anti-homosexual is just nonsense."

Meanwhile, CNN Films has commissioned a documentary about Hillary Clinton, and from the director's tone it may portray her in a much more positive light despite her husband's impeachment from office:

"I am very excited to be making a film about Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose fascinating life and work embody so many of America's, and the world's, hopes and challenges," said Charles Ferguson.  "I am delighted and extremely grateful that CNN Films has given me this remarkable opportunity."

Contrast this tone with Baldwin's "demons" comment above and the "Our Nixon" press release below:

"The personal footage reveals a multidimensional president and staff who were heartbreakingly earnest, idealistic, and naïve – as well as self-protective, suspicious, and cynical," Lane said.  "Our goal was to invite viewers to re-examine their prior assumptions about Nixon and come to their own conclusions about what that era means."

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014