Filmmaker’s Suit Says A&E Networks Suppressed ‘Watergate’ Series

One of the A&E executives named as a defendant, Michael Stiller — the vice president of programming and development at the History Channel — had told Mr. Ferguson that there would be rebroadcasts and required him to make slightly shorter versions of the episodes for daytime slots, but those never occurred, according to the lawsuit.

The company noted the documentary is available on several services, which include iTunes, Amazon Prime Video and Google Play, including its own video-on-demand platform, History Vault.

Mr. Ferguson’s lawsuit argues that the company executives interfered with his contract, and defamed him by telling industry executives he was difficult to work with, thereby costing him work. In addition to Mr. Lehrer and Mr. Stiller, the other named defendants include Robert Sharenow, the network’s president of programming and Molly Thompson, its former head of documentary films. Ms. Thompson declined to comment. Mr. Lehrer, Mr. Stiller and Mr. Sharenow did not respond to requests for comment.

The lawsuit cites several examples where Mr. Ferguson said he learned about conflicts between A&E executives and documentary filmmakers, including a dispute concerning “Gretchen Carlson: Breaking the Silence,” a 2019 documentary on Lifetime about sexual harassment in working-class industries. The suit says A&E executives questioned including information about McDonald’s, an advertiser. The information was ultimately included after the producers fought for it, but the episode was only aired once, on a Saturday at 10 p.m., the lawsuit said. A spokeswoman for Ms. Carlson declined to comment.

The lawsuit also says Mr. Ferguson learned about a dispute regarding a 2019 A&E documentary called “Biography: The Trump Dynasty” that examines Mr. Trump’s life and family history. According to the lawsuit, A&E executives wanted the production company behind the documentary, Left/Right Productions, to add in the voice of a “Trump apologist” who could “justify” aspects of Mr. Trump’s background, a request that the suit says generated “significant tensions” between the network executives and the production company executives.

Left/Right, which works with The New York Times on some documentary productions, did not respond to requests for comment. The Times did not have a role in any of the programming cited in Mr. Ferguson’s suit.

Jack Begg contributed research.