National Geographic denies politics influenced release of pro-Obama film before election

Gregg Re Editor
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National Geographic Channel President Howard Owens denied Thursday that the network’s decision to air a pro-Obama video just two days before the November election was motivated in any way by political considerations.

“Harvey obviously doesn’t schedule our network,” Owens said, referring to The Weinstein Co. Co-chairman Harvey Weinstein, whose company is producing “Seal Team Six: The Raid on Osama bin Laden,” a thriller based on President Barack Obama’s decision to kill al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. “[We’re] not political. We are opportunistic, from a programming perspective.”

Instead, Owens said National Geographic wanted to release “Seal Team Six” ahead of “Zero Dark Thirty,” a competing film account of the killing of bin Laden from acclaimed “Hurt Locker” director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal, which is scheduled for release in mid-December.

“National Geographic Channel prides itself on giving our viewers exclusive access to truly ground-breaking moments from the past, present and future,” National Geographic Channels CEO David Lyle said in a statement. “Harvey’s film is a perfect match for what people expect from our network — content that is socially relevant, factually based and entertaining as hell.”

Lyle made it clear that the film will emphasize the risks the president’s action entailed, even as the network, which is majority owned by News Corporation, clarified that the film will not be entirely accurate.

“We all know now the ultimate outcome of the president’s decision to green light the mission,” Stockwell said. “But what was fascinating to me were all the potentially disastrous outcomes of the decision to give the go ahead to the raid that the movie highlights. It hopefully gets inside the challenges of making a decision that could have derailed a presidency.”

“While some aspects of the characterizations have been dramatized for creative reasons, the core story is an accurate portrayal of an event that ended the longest manhunt in American history,” National Geographic clarified in a statement.

A trailer released for the film and posted to YouTube on Friday appears ripped from the modern thriller mold, complete with distracting action cliches. A drill sergeant shouts, “Gentlemen, we’re gonna do some shooting, then we’re gonna do some more shooting, then we’re gonna be shooting some more!” and “Tonight, we ride!”, as analysts point to over-enhanced satellite images with nonsense readouts like “arcsin [sin L cos A cos D – cos L cos T sqrt (1 – cos^A  cos ^2D0)]. ”

Despite National Geographic saying it is impartial, though, its content throughout recent years has heavily favored liberals. A poll released by National Geographic Channel earlier this year, for example, found that Obama is “better able to handle an alien onslaught than the Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney,” and a study cited by the National Geographic Magazine in 2010 claimed that “liberals and atheists are more highly evolved” than religious conservatives.

That study came from evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa, who has in the past published studies claiming black women are less attractive and that Africa’s health problems can be traced to the country’s generally low intelligence quotient.

National Geographic also courted scorn for publishing pieces calling for increased government regulation to curb the American obesity issue, as well as for outright favoring tighter restrictions on firearm possession. In 2009, the company published a foreign affairs piece downplaying the role of Islam in perpetuating historical suffering in the Middle East.

Watch the high-octane trailer:

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Editor’s note: This story has been amended to note that News Corporation owns a majority stake in National Geographic Channel.

Gregg Re