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World Weighs in on U.S. Election PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Friday, 29 October 2004 09:20
World Weighs in o­n U.S. Election

It should come as no surprise; with the United States more involved in global governance now than at any time since the Second World War, the upcoming presidential election is drawing interest and generating partisanship for non-American citizens throughout the world. European Media Take Sides in U.S. Election
Fri Oct 29, 2004 07:22 AM


Jeffrey Goldfarb, European Media Correspondent

LONDON (Reuters) - President Bush and the war in Iraq have so galvanized European public opinion that many newspapers are officially endorsing a candidate in the U.S. election for the first time.

From Rome to Moscow newspapers have covered the Bush-Kerry tussle in as much detail as if it were a local race, with blow by blow accounts of the debates, campaign ads and promises and running frequent front-page photographs of the candidates.

Some have taken things a step further.

Britain's Guardian newspaper sponsored a letter-writing campaign to U.S. voters in a marginal Ohio county. Most of the paper's liberal readers denounced Bush and the Iraq war, but their letters backfired as voters resented foreign interference.

Germany's best-selling newspaper endorsed Bush despite polls showing the vast majority of Germans back Senator John Kerry. It was the first time Bild, with 12 million readers, or any German newspaper, had ever backed a U.S. presidential candidate.

"With this endorsement, Bild is picking up a popular tradition of U.S. newspapers," Bild's political editor Sven Goesmann wrote.

"It's another symbol of globalization," said Roy Greenslade, a British journalism professor and media columnist. "We realize that the world is more important than its borders, and that everything crosses borders, including media."


Newspapers in Europe typically are more upfront about political leanings in their day-to-day coverage, obviating the need for an official endorsement.

That is in contrast to U.S. publications, which aim to be unbiased in their reporting and leave the editorial opinions to a separate group of writers whose views appear o­n a dedicated page. Political endorsements are considered an influential staple of U.S. newspaper journalism.

As of Thursday, 162 U.S. dailies were backing Kerry while 129 supported Bush, according to trade magazine Editor & Publisher. Many more are likely to unveil which candidate they endorse in their Sunday editions two days before the election.

The Economist, based in London, defended backing Kerry, saying 40 percent of its sales are from the United States.

"All those American readers will now be pondering how to vote, or indeed whether to," Editor Bill Emmott wrote in Friday's edition. "Thus, at every presidential election since 1980, we hope it may be useful for us to say how we would think about our vote -- if we had o­ne."

Media pundits o­n both sides of the Atlantic, however, doubt foreign endorsements will influence U.S. citizens.

"I don't think anyone who can vote is going to take a cue from a foreign newspaper, but at the same time, I don't think it's inappropriate," said Brent Cunningham, the managing editor of New York-based trade magazine Columbia Journalism Review.

"I don't think it matters a hill of beans," Greenslade said. "You're just scratching at the window and not having any influence whatsoever." In Italy, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who also controls much of the country's media, is an ardent Bush supporter. The parts of the Italian press not run by Berlusconi are largely pro-Kerry.

Il Giornale, a national newspaper run by Berlusconi's brother Paolo, has presented the strongest support for Bush while the left-leaning broadsheet La Repubblica is as critical of Bush as it is of Berlusconi.

Russian newspapers have been cautious about endorsing candidates in the tight U.S. race, but President Vladimir Putin's recent backing of Bush has won prominent play.

Russia was ranked 140th in the world this week by Reporters Without Frontiers o­n press freedom, and newspaper editors tend to avoid taking controversial stands. (Additional reporting by Eric Kirschbaum in Berlin, Boris Groendahl in Frankfurt, Rachel Sanderson in Rome and Douglas Busvine in Moscow)

Last Updated on Friday, 29 October 2004 09:20

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