Kathryn Bigelow's bin Laden movie: Obama campaign propaganda?

A film about the terrorist's death will be released a month before President Obama faces voters in 2012 — and one Republican is calling foul

Kathryn Bigelow's movie about the Osama bin Laden raid
(Image credit: STR/epa/Corbis)

When is a movie not just a movie? Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) is demanding that the Defense Department and CIA investigate whether the White House is giving special access, and possibly classified information, to Hurt Locker director Kathryn Bigelow and scriptwriter Mark Boal for their upcoming film about the killing of Osama bin Laden. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote on Sunday that "the moviemakers are getting top-level access to the most classified mission in history," and that the film's Oct. 12, 2012, scheduled release date is "perfectly timed to give a home-stretch boost" to the Obama campaign. The White House and Bigelow have dismissed claims of favoritism and political opportunism. Does King have a legitimate complaint — or is this just a "steaming pile of partisan politics"?

Hollywood-D.C. cooperation is about accuracy, not politics: King — "and anyone who buys into his incensed objection — needs to calm down," says Megan Angelo at Business Insider. The military has cooperated with Hollywood on countless movies, including Top Gun, without political collusion or the leaking of secrets. And for good reason: Accuracy. "No filmmaker wants to get caught using the wrong gun in a scene; no government official wants false perceptions about the department spread."

"Peter King would rather... Bin Laden blockbuster be riddled with inaccuracies"

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But this instance crosses the line into propaganda: Sure, "filmmakers often secure the cooperation of the military," says John Hayward at Human Events. But if Dowd is right, Bigelow's access is "unprecedented." The killing of bin Laden is a worthy story to tell, but not if it's an "eleventh-hour cinematic love letter" from Hollywood to a "failed president." It would be "somewhat comical" if this "completely unregulated campaign contribution" from Bigelow backfires by rubbing voters the wrong way.

"Gutsy Call: The movie"

If anything, this "bogus controversy" insults the filmmakers: "For King (or, for that matter, Dowd) to suggest that Boal's new script would be political or military propaganda," says Michael Sragow in The Baltimore Sun, "is to insult him as an artist and underestimate his powers as a journalist." This seasoned investigative journalist and Bigelow were working on the movie long before bin Laden's death, and they don't need special favors from the White House to "put together an intimate view of the bin Laden operation."

"Another bogus controversy: Peter King vs. Hurt Locker team..."

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