During their summer 2019 Television Critics Association sessions, FX announced the series Impeachment: American Crime Story about the Bill Clinton impeachment, with Monica Lewinski serving as a producer. As soon as FX announced plans to air it before the 2020 election, the network faced backlash for the timing. 

Today, FX CEO John Landgraf revealed the series will not air until after the election. 

The backlash against Impeachment timing

Critics expressed concern that airing a series about a Democratic president’s impeachment during an election in which Democrats were running to unseat President Trump could influence the election. Journalist Mark Harris tweeted his reaction to the announcement on August 6, 2019. 

He wrote, “There is nothing that Trump would like more than to turn the home stretch of 2020 into a revisitation of the Cintons. Don’t do this @FXNetworks. It’s a disservice to our fragile political system and to the talented people involved with the show.”

Landgraf stood by his decision in August, responding to Harris’s tweet when a reporter read it aloud to him. 

“When someone writes without even knowing what the script is, and I don’t even know who the person you referenced is… So this person knows what the show is, knows how the audience is going to respond to it, knows how it’s going to impact history, right?” Landgraf said on August 6. “I don’t believe it’s going to determine who’s the next President of the United States. I think that’s a little hysterical from my standpoint, somebody saying that that’s going to influence the presidential election.”

But now the decision is moot

Asked if he was still planning to air Impeachment before this election, Landgraf revealed that the show simply won’t be ready in time to meet that original schedule. Creator Ryan Murphy is directing a movie before producing Impeachment.

“We’re making 10 episodes,” Landgraf said today “Ryan, who is probably objectively the busiest man in show business, is not available to start production until March 21 of this  year. So that means we won’t be physically done actually shooting the episodes until October because it’s a long production. I think we initially announced it will air in September and frankly I don’t think that’s reasonable. When we’ll schedule it, we don’t know. We have to get into production, see how post goes. It’s TBD. I don’t think we’ll make it to September.”

That should put political prognosticators at ease. There’s still 10 months to go before the election and many factors will reveal themselves as it gets closer to November, but Impeachment: American Crime Story won’t be one of them. Perhaps once election results are in, viewers will be more ready to revisit the Clinton era. That wasn’t on Landgraf’s mind though.

“The factor determining that is Ryan’s availability to fit this feature film in,” Landgraf said. “The timing of the production, the fact we won’t be done until September, is driven by Ryan’s availability.”

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