Wednesday, February 06, 2008


Foreign TV

We haven't turned on the TV in our rented Paris apartment until tonight. As much as I've enjoyed a week-long break from TV, I have to say it's fascinating to watch TV in Europe.

Tonight I'm struck by the extensive news coverage of Super Tuesday. The French news broadcast (my understanding of which was, admittedly, very sketchy) went into considerable detail, including an explanation of the difference between Republican "winner-take-all" primaries and Democratic proportional delegate distribution.

I'm guessing that a higher proportion of French people could name the 3rd place Republican presidential hopeful than of American people who could name the current president of France. (Hint: his name sounds like the symptom for certain forms of cancer.)

Switching over to Aljazeera's English-language broadcast, we see a news feature looking at the U.S. presidential primaries from the perspective of China. Desperate for interviews, the Chinese correspondent interviews a Chinese man who took a course with Obama while attending the University of Chicago Law School.

Aljazeera's teaser for its coverage of the U.S. presidential primaries says, "It's the most important job in the world. Who will fill it?" And now I'm watching the Riz Khan Show, a talking-head "news analysis" of Super Tuesday with Donna Shalala (former HHS secretary, and an Arab American, by the way) and two other American pundits fielding perceptive call in questions from viewers in places like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Dubai. Questions such as: "Would John McCain and Hillary Clinton offer the American voters a real choice, or are their moderate-to-conservative views too similar?" and "Are Americans ready for a black president?"

Aljazeera has a program called "Frontline America" which runs features on aspects of American society that don't make the mainstream American media -- like 200,000 "medical tourists" who travel to Mexico each year for medications and treatment.

I know this is a lot of "enough about us Americans... what do you think of us?" But I feel like I could learn a lot.

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