The decision of the National Geographic Channel to air a film about the successful hunt for Osama bin Laden just two days before Election Day had already generated controversy. But the promotional materials released to the press this week confirm the suspicion that it is what even the New York Times was prepared to call a “political stunt.” The movie, “Seal Team Six: The Raid on Osama bin Laden,” is being promoted by Harvey Weinstein, a Hollywood mogul as well as a major bundler for President Obama. That and the release date was enough for many to think the film was an unpaid campaign ad, but as the Times reports:
Promotional materials and a copy of the movie provided to The New York Times this week also show that the film has been recut, using news and documentary footage to strengthen Mr. Obama’s role and provide a window into decision-making in the White House. … Some of the Obama moments were added at the suggestion of Mr. Weinstein, they said, using material gathered by Meghan O’Hara, a producer who worked closely with the documentarian Michael Moore on politically charged projects like “Fahrenheit 9/11” and “Sicko.”
While the normally low-rated National Geographic will likely get a lot of extra viewers for the broadcast, it has also opened itself up to charges of political motivation. The channel will try and use the movie to promote their other shows, but there’s no question that the main beneficiary is the president. Given the timing, the movie appears to be nothing more than an effort to aid the Democrat’s extended touchdown dance about the bin Laden killing and boost his faltering chances for re-election.
While the president deserves credit for ordering the raid, the idea that he would be transformed into the star of a film about a hunt that began before his presidency is a politically-motivated insult to the intelligence professionals and Navy SEALs who pulled off the operation. The head of National Geographic Channel has tried to alibi his way out of responsibility for this travesty, but in doing so he only proved that his insistence that the film wasn’t “propaganda” was untrue:
Howard T. Owens, the chief executive of the National Geographic Channel, who joined the call, said his company had insisted on removing a scene that showed Mitt Romney appearing to oppose the raid.
That National Geographic would have to do that shows just how skewed the film must be. Just like putting the president at the center of the film, mentioning Romney at all illustrates the film’s political intent. Owens’ claim in the film’s promotional material that the president made a “terrible political decision” in ordering the action is as absurd as Obama’s own statement in the last presidential debate that seemed to indicate that he thought doing so might have been unpopular. In fact, nothing could have been more popular or more likely to have the support of the entire American people. The idea that the president showed “courage” in going ahead and doing something for which he receive unanimous applause is nothing more than politically inspired hogwash.
Ironically, the White House has been on the hot seat for aiding a different bin Laden film. The movie on the subject being produced by the same people who came up with “The Hurt Locker” — Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal — was allegedly given access to classified information by the administration in what was another attempt to bolster the president’s reputation. But the Weinstein film, though a cable TV release rather than one that will be shown in theaters, will have the advantage of being the first one to gain a national audience.
Nothing that airs on National Geographic will change the outcome of the election. Yet the willingness of the entertainment industry to bolster the Obama campaign in this manner does make their bias crystal clear. The notion that the president did something heroic in authorizing the mission is nothing more than a political myth that no amount of Hollywood puffery will make true. But it is unfortunate that the desire to make Obama the star will inevitably mean less credit is given to the SEALs who put their lives on the line.