“The Guantanamo Candidate,” an hour-long episode of Showtime’s Vice documentary series, was slated for May 28 but was pulled before it could air due to worries of political consequences, a new report contends.
When the episode was first noticed missing by The Hollywood Reporter, Vice, and Showtime cited scheduling conflicts for its removal. The episode was scrubbed from the Paramount-owned cable channel for political reasons, according to Semafor.
The episode contained footage of Florida Governor and 2024 presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis’ response to allegations that he witnessed the torture of Guantanamo Bay prisoners.
The Vice documentary included on-camera interviews with a former detainee, Mansoor Adayfi, and a guard at the prison, staff sergeant Joe Hickman, who both said they had seen DeSantis at the prison complex amid a controversial detainee hunger strike. The Vice reporters on the project attempted to speak with DeSantis multiple times, finally confronting him at a press conference in Israel, according to a description sent to Semafor.
DeSantis served as a lawyer in the US prison complex in Cuba from March 2006 to January 2007.
Despite Showtime and Vice initially claiming scheduling issues, two individuals told Semafor that the episode was pulled from the air over fears of political repercussions. According to new reporting, the company’s Washington lobbyist DeDe Lea had raised concerns about the episode’s contents.
On May 25 — after Vice’s internal legal team had already approved the show and promotional materials had gone out — Showtime’s post-production staff alerted Vice that they would be “taking a deeper internal look,” at the episode which would “delay its premiere.”
In response, Vice’s EVP and global head of programming and documentary, and Vice’s showrunner asked for further clarification while telling employees that they would return to the DeSantis episode later in the season.
Shortly after the news broke that the documentary had been removed from the lineup, a spokesperson told reporters that the company was “still in discussion about the scheduling of the episode.” Semafor reports that Showtime executives stopped communicating with Vice editorial staff, and it became clear the episode would not be rescheduled. Just after the seventh episode in the documentary series aired, Paramount filed a motion in bankruptcy proceedings to opt out of its agreement to pay with Vice.
According to Vice, there is no official plan in place to release the episode at this time. “Our News programming enjoys an unprecedented level of trust and engagement among viewers around the world and we not only stand behind our rigorous reporting but are proud of the incredible journalism showcased in this story,” said a Vice spokesperson told TheWrap.
“We don’t comment on scheduling decisions,” a Showtime spokesperson told TheWrap.