A made-for-TV movie of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden will air two days before Election Day on the National Geographic Channel.
Airing “Seal Team 6,” the dramatized portrayal of the raid, just before elections seems uncanny timing to some, but National Geographic Channel President Howard Owens told The Hollywood Reporter that it wasn’t motivated by politics.
“We’re not trying for this to be a political film,” Owens said. “We have a fall schedule coming out, and we want to be able to promote that schedule.”
BYU political science professor Jeremy Pope doesn’t think that’s true.
“As for the timing of the show, of course it was motivated by politics,” Pope said in an email interview. “But it was probably even more motivated by money.”
Pope said National Geographic more than likely chose to air the movie right before elections as a way to bolster viewership and to get free advertising through the attention it will gain.
Whether or not the movie really does have any hidden political agendas will become more clear when the film actually airs, but sources still think it is doubtful the movie will have any swaying power with voters.
“I don’t think it will in any way because of the staunch partisanship in both parties,” Colten Ashley, a film student from New Mexico, said. “The movie won’t change the game that much; it might generate some thought-provoking conversations (among) individuals, but I think events happening elsewhere might incite them more.”
As for how people will react to the film, Ashley said the bin Laden raid is something that many Westerners, especially Americans, are interested in. So there will be many who think it’s an appropriate event to broadcast, while there will be others who think it’s totally inappropriate.
There has been some outcry about the film already. TV by the Numbers, a TV ratings and news site, published an article on the movie earlier this month, and some readers expressed their concerns in the comments section.
“Do all the people responsible for this decision not care about the effects both on the presidential election and how people who see bin Laden as a hero might react?” reader E.A. Keenan posted.
Chris Smith, a recent graduate of the BYU Army ROTC, also thinks there could be some negative effects of airing the movie.
“We do have to consider the fact that the enemy will have access to whatever is broadcast,” Smith said. “I just hope that the makers of this film have consulted with military leaders about the impacts that this film may have on the enemy’s preparation for similar raids which may occur.”