Election 2008 The World is Watching

Editor's Note

End In Sight

Election coverage abroad, and the Obama backlash

BY FRONTLINE/World EditorsSeptember 24, 2008

As the U.S. presidential campaign accelerates into the home stretch, the global media caravan covering it does likewise.

Over the next six weeks, watch for news on our own efforts, but also for tips on other offshore perspectives to sample. There is a good deal of thoughtful material floating around the blogosphere. The trick, of course, is to know where to go. Accordingly, we've taken it upon ourselves to do some filtering on our viewers' behalf. Below are a handful of links that have made it through the filter, with more to come in the weeks ahead.

So far, our coverage of how the world views the election has presented a bit of a dilemma -- how to report the story fairly and impartially when the preponderance of international opinion favors one candidate over the other.

While the campaign at home is a genuine horserace, way too close to call, the outside world appears to be leaning heavily toward Senator Obama. But is that appearance accurate? And even assuming it is, should it make any difference to those who will in fact decide the contest's outcome? We leave it to you to answer these questions, but if you're curious to dip into this debate, here are some sources:

Vote for President is a completely unscientific poll on the election that is open only to those living outside the U.S. Obama supporters will doubtless take heart from their candidate's apparent popularity abroad. McCain supporters will dismiss it as irrelevant verging on insulting. Hey, do we tell the French how to vote?

In fact, the Obama tilt overseas has begun to produce a bit of a backlash along just these lines. For a look at the argument in the UK, you might start with this column in The Guardian by Jonathan Freedland, who contends that if the U.S. rejects Obama, "The world's verdict will be harsh." Then take a look at this reaction from Eursoc, a combative compendium of news and commentary from Europe and the UK. Eursoc's counter to The Guardian: "A prize to any reader who can think of a better way to energize the Republican base."

Finally, we recommend this report just posted from one of our own correspondents, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, who talks with Jugnu Mohsin, a highly respected Pakistani newspaper editor about why the American election matters overseas, and how inextricably our interests are connected. Mohsin is not just respected, she is extraordinarily brave -- chilling and very real death threats from the Taliban have obliged her to hire armed guards and send her children out of the country, but they have not silenced her voice. As Obaid Chinoy reports, Mohsin continues to speak and publish her mind, despite the risks.