NatGeo And History Channel Present Their Takes On Obama’s Legacy

Amid a contentious administration change, three docs consider President Obama’s impact on social, political, and environmental issues.

NatGeo And History Channel Present Their Takes On Obama’s Legacy
May 1, 2011: President Barack Obama listens during one in a series of meetings discussing the mission against Osama bin Laden, in the Situation Room of the White House.

WHAT: National Geographic Channel’s Sea of Hope: America’s Underwater Treasures, followed by the two-hour special Obama: The Price of Hope; History Channel’s two-hour The 44th President: In His Own Words, all on January 15.


WHO: President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and more than a dozen political influencers, oceanographer Sylvia Earle, photographer Brian Skerry, author Max Kennedy.

WHY WE CARE: In the days leading up to an Orwellian inauguration, National Geographic hopes to stave off despondence by a few hours with an evening of documentaries about Obama’s environmental and political legacies. Obama profiles his administration’s challenges and impact—from being the first African-American president to navigating an impending financial collapse, unemployment numbers, universal health care, right-wing resistance, the Arab Spring, gun violence, and racial justice.

That film is preceded by Sea of Hope, Earle’s yearlong aquatic quest to highlight the need to protect eroding underwater ecosystems, which culminates when Obama announces the world’s largest marine preserve, in the Hawaiian Islands, and first national marine monument in the Atlantic Ocean. The February National Geographic Magazine addresses the history of presidential action in ocean preserves.

“The chemistry of the planet is being affected by what we’re putting into and taking out of the ocean,” says Earle. “There should be some places that we leave alone.”

History, meanwhile, is weighing in with The 44th President: In His Own Words, Obama’s first-hand account of his time in office and what a Trump presidency ultimately means to his legacy. The two-hour special is based on interviews conducted both before and after the 2016 Presidential election.

It’s also offering an online companion The Obama Years- A Nine-Part Oral History, a compilation of commentary from Obama and 23 members of his administration.

About the author

Susan Karlin is an award-winning journalist in Los Angeles, covering the nexus of science, technology, and arts, with a fondness for sci-fi and comics. She's a regular contributor to Fast Company, NPR, and IEEE Spectrum, and has written for Newsweek, Forbes, Wired, Scientific American, Discover, NY and London Times, and BBC Radio.