Published October 25, 2012
LOS ANGELES – Set to air on the National Geographic Channel two days before the Presidential election, “SEAL Team Six: The Raid on Osama bin Laden,” is billed as the “real inside story behind the manhunt and raid that took down al-Qaeda’s notorious leader, told through the eyes of the military and intelligence teams involved.”
But rather than focusing on the heroes who carried out the mission, President Obama now takes center stage in the film, with voice-overs, still photographs and archival footage being added after "SEAL Team Six" was purchased in May for a reported $2.5 million by Harvey Weinstein, a big supporter of the President.
Not only that, Meghan O’Hara – a producer for Obama supporter Michael Moore’s films “Fahrenheit 9/11,” “Sicko” and “Bowling for Columbine” – was the one hired to gather that extra footage.
A report in the New York Times said the new footage serves to “strengthen Mr. Obama’s role and provide a window into decision-making in the White House,” a move the report says will “bolster claims that the 90-minute film amounts to a political stunt.”
Indeed FrontPageMag.com called it an “Obama Infomercial From Michael Moore’s Favorite Producer” which they say is essentially “about the man that sat on his ass while they (SEAL Team Six) risked their lives.”
But filmmaker John Stockwell denies the claims the film and its release timing are politically motivated, telling FoxNews.com that he and Weinstein “never discussed politics. He was just concerned with getting the details right.” But it seems some political aspects of the movie were too much for the National Geographic Channel, which had a scene depicting GOP nominee Mitt Romney appearing to oppose the raid removed from the final cut, the Times reports.
“We were trying to use news footage that gave some context as to who was in favor and who was against (the raid),” Stockwell explained, adding that the axed footage of Romney was from a 2007 primary, four years before the raid took place.
A rep for The National Geographic Channel told FoxNews.com that when they received the film, they asked to make some edits on things that “seemed a little out of context and that we felt wasn't appropriate.”
“We have a very stringent Standards and Practices department that reviews anything we put on our network, and that seemed out of context,” the rep said.
“SEAL Team Six” is not Weinstein’s first foray into pre-election political movies. He was the force behind Michael Moore’s anti-Bush film “Fahrenheit 9/11” prior to the 2004 election. He also held off on releasing political satire “Butter,” which depicts a Michele Bachmann-like GOP hopeful who pulls out all stops to win a butter-carving competition, until just a couple of weeks ago.
So far this election cycle Weinstein has given $5,000 to President Obama’s reelection campaign and $61,600 to the Democratic National Committee, which has coordinated fundraising with the Obama campaign. In August, he opened the doors of his Connecticut compound for a star-studded Obama fundraiser. The two are seemingly cyber buddies as well, with Weinstein joking earlier this year that he “turned down” a film pitch idea e-mailed to him from Obama.
Despite the film’s Nov. 4 release, National Geographic denies claims of vote swaying.
“The way the deal was presented to the network was Netflix has a window for the film November 5th and 6th. If we wanted the exclusive for the premiere, we had to air it before then. Obviously we are aware of the election happening and the proximity is not lost on us, but we think the topic of national security is certainty of interest to our viewers especially during an election year anyone that watches this film knows that this film is a film about American Heroes,” the rep said. “It is utterly ridiculous that a film on the National Geographic channel is going to affect the outcome of the election of the leader of the free world. We would not air it if we thought it was propaganda.”
But not everyone is convinced.
“It's an apt metaphor for Hollywood that even the brave actions of SEAL Team Six get twisted into liberal themes and used to push a political message just before a close election. It's unfortunate but unsurprising that the issue of propaganda has taken the focus away from our amazing heroes,” noted Dan Gainor, VP of Business and Culture for the Media Research Center. “The timing of this film is absolutely ridiculous. For an Obama supporter to be releasing a ‘prObama’ film just before the election is a blatant attempt to sway voters. And liberals wonder why conservatives complain about Hollywood.”