President Barack Obama waves after speaking at the 122nd International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Conference (Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP)
As the country prepares for Donald Trump to be sworn in as the 45th U.S. president, both critics and supporters believe they're saying farewell to one of the most memorable presidencies in the nation's history. On Sunday, Jan. 15, just days before the inauguration, National Geographic commemorates President Obama's legacy with a night of programming, including the two-hour documentary special "Obama: The Price of Hope," premiering at 9/8c.
The intimate portrait of the Obama administration, which had an indelible effect on the nation and world in light of the significant array of issues the President and his cadre of advisors faced between 2008 and 2016, the documentary will examine the Obama years with unique insider access to the president and his inner circle, including frank interviews with Obama himself. Beginning with his 2008 electoral victory, the energetic Obama made history as the first African American president and was determined to take on the challenges of governing an increasingly divided country.
The documentary examines the President's action against an impending financial collapse and dire unemployment numbers, his historic introduction of universal health care, his positioning on the Arab Spring and his strong stance on foreign policy, all while countering overt resistance from the Tea Party. Filmmakers also depict Obama's mission to end gun violence and his commitment to racial justice.
In addition to candid interviews with Obama, filmmakers have multiple conversations with diverse political influencers and those in the President's inner circle, who provide textural context on the intricate issues. Featured interviewees include the following:
· David Axelrod, Former Senior Advisor to the President
· Hillary Clinton, Former Secretary of State
· Bill Daley, Former White House Chief of Staff
· Mary Derosa, Former National Security Council Legal Advisor
· Dick Durbin, Former Senate Majority Whip
· Robert Gates, Former Defense Secretary
· Tim Geithner, Former Treasury Secretary
· Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President
· Jim Messina, Former White House Deputy Chief of Staff
· Cecilia Munoz, Intergovernmental Affairs Director
· Leon Panetta, Former Director of the CIA
· Nancy Pelosi, Former Speaker of the House
· Tom Perriello, Former Member of the House of Representatives from Virginia's 5th District
· Harry Reid, Former Senate Majority Leader
· Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor
· Christy Romer, Former Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors
· Phil Schiliro, Former White House Director of Legislative Affairs
"Obama: The Price of Hope" weaves in eight years of the President's objectives, triumphs and struggles, while underscoring his passion to inspire a sense of hope against all odds.
Leading into the documentary, at 8pm, the network will premiere "Sea of Hope: American's Underwater Treasuries" which follows iconic ocean explorer and conservationist Dr. Sylvia Earle, renowned underwater National Geographic photographer Brian Skerry, author and environmental activist Max Kennedy and their crew of teenage aquanauts on a yearlong environmental quest. In celebration of the centennial of the National Park Service, their goal is to turn the next 100 years into a blue centennial by protecting vital habitats and underwater natural wonders.
The yearlong expedition culminates when President Obama reveals that he created the world's largest marine preserve in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands and the first national marine monument in the Atlantic Ocean. To celebrate these historic achievements, National Geographic captured the first-ever footage of a U.S. president diving underwater.
"Change is happening fast: We're losing coral reefs, we're losing fish in the ocean and ecosystems are unraveling," says Earle. "The chemistry of the planet is being affected by what we're putting into and taking out of the ocean. There should be some places that we leave alone, like national parks."
The team travels all over the United States - from St. Croix to the Hawaiian Islands - using everything from a simple mask and flippers to submarines to capture images of astonishing underwater ecosystems. Through Science and photography, they hope to inspire President Obama to establish blue landmarks across an unseen American wilderness.
"Obama: The Price of Hope" is produced for National Geographic by Brook Lapping Productions in association with Les Films d'Ici 2.
"Sea of Hope: American's Underwater Treasuries" is produced for National Geographic by True Blue Films.