I have been visiting Latin American TV and newspaper websites for the past four years, and their coverage doesn’t differ much from that of American media. For starters, both the US and Latin American media rely heavily on the international news agencies such as Reuters, AP, AFP, and in Latin America, EFE.
What’s interesting is the predominance of Obama stories over McCain’s. At times one feels that McCain is a nearly-invisible candidate that surfaces occasionally and which may or may not be in the running, if one is to go by how frequently his name is mentioned. The thorough coverage on Obama is almost-universally favorable, sometimes even glamorous. When he is criticized in editorials, the criticism is followed by detailed advice on what he should do to win.
Here’s a roundup of papers and TV websites, all of them in Spanish or Portuguese.
Puerto Rico: Being a Commonwealth with millions of Puerto Ricans residing in the Continental US (where they can vote in the national elections), Puerto Ricans follow the race closely, and just this Tuesday El Nuevo Dia reported that the Obama campaign had named three Puerto Rican advisors to his Hispanic Advisory Board. They are Rep. Luis Gutiérrez and Nydia Velázquez, Bronx County president Adolfo Carrión, and Rev. Wilfredo de Jesús of Chicago’s New Life Covenant Ministries. The article also states that Obama’s neutral on the statehood/Commonwealth/independence issue and promises he’ll improve Puerto Rico’s access to Federal programs.
Argentina: Argentinian newspapers don’t post many stories on line. One of the few stories on the campaign, by Hugo Alconada Mon writing for La Nacion reports that Oprah Winfrey delivers an estimated 1 million voters for Obama, according to an estimate by Timothy Moore and Craig Garthwaite of the University of Maryland at College Park. Alconada wonders what the numbers would be if another celebrity, without the media empire, had done the endorsement.
TN Todo Noticias TV channel has seven videos of Obama, mostly of his trip to Germany, and none of McCain. Reporter Andres Repetto narrates, as Obama walks to the outdoor podium,
“His motto is ‘Change’ and ‘Yes we can’. Barack Obama this week seeked to show the American electorate how far away they are from understanding what’s going on in the world.”
The banner on the lower part of the screen read, “The global campaign. Barack Obama goes out to seduce the world”.
Brazil: O Globo has probably the most comprehensive coverage in all of South America. Their page on American politics showed headlines:
Speculation on VP choices energizes the US
Candidates hope Musharraf’s resignation will stabilize Pakistan
Obama’s July fundraising nearly doubles that of McCain
Fight for evangelicals not the first by the candidates
Cindy McCain injury sends her to hospital
Angelina Jolie undecided between Obama and McCain
Some of the stories (Angelina’s and Cindy’s) were by the usual news services, but most are original reporting and commentary, since O Globo has correspondents in the USA.
The candidate profiles, however, offer more information on how the newspaper views them: Notice the error on Obama’s Senate career (my translation):
Obama’s profile: “Protestant, descendant of Muslims, Barack OBama, 47, the first black to run for the White House for a major party. His name means “blessed” in Swahili, one of Kenya’s two languages, where his family has roots. Senator for Illinois since 1996, he’s married and has two daughters.”
McCain’s profile: “At age 71, war veteran John McCain runs for the Presidency for the first time. In 2000 he lost the Republican primaries to George W. Bush. Retired from the military, he was elected senator for Arizona in 1986. He’s been reelected three times to this day. He’s married and has seven children.”
While Obama’s profile emphasizes his Kenyan roots for the Brazilian audience with a large number of descendants of Africans, and doesn’t differentiate between the Illinois Senate and the US Senate (therefore making him appear to have a lot more national experience), the McCain profile emphasizes his age, and his military background (while not mentioning he was a POW of the Viet Cong), when many in Brazil do not have positive feelings towards the military.
El Tiempo, writing that Obama will make his choice for VP known sometime between Wednesday or Thursday, points to Joe Biden’s weekend visit to Georgia, saying that
”The crisis in Georgia… is a reminder of how much Obama needs a running mate who is well versed in foreign policy matters.”
The article has 19 paragraphs, five of which mention McCain and the Republicans – at the bottom of the page. The photo featured in the article shows Obama in full celebrity mode, getting out of a car, campaign schedule on one hand, apple on the other, wearing sunglasses and waiving to the media.
Definitely a glamour shot.
Costa Rica: La Nación features a newsfeed of EFE, AFP, and AP items which is frequently updated. The editorial page is focused entirely on local issues. Other Costa Rican newspapers don’t carry any stories on the US presidential race at all, since they are aimed for Costa Ricans searching for local information.
Mexico: The most in-depth coverage on line from the Mexican media can be found at El Universal, which posts news from the international news services and original reporting throughout the day in both the print version and the TV section. El Universal also has its own You Tube Channel. El Universal has several correspondents in the US.
Today’s editorial focused on Obama’s proposed renegotiation of the Free Trade Agreement with Mexico. Of the top 15 stories listed, 15 mentioned Obama in the title or in the stories’ descriptions, while only three mentioned McCain.
El Universal’s editorial board wants Obama to win: This editorial calls Obama arrogant, reminds him that Lopez Obrador’s arrogance cost him the presidency, and advises him to abandon protectionism and isolationism, and win by proposing a new economic policy, along with choosing Bill Richardson as his running mate.
Telemundo’s covereage is less extensive than Univision but then Telemundo is owned of GE, which also owns NBC, CNBC, and MSNBC where the presidential race is covered in depth.
Univision has a webpage with videos, reports, updates, and an informal survey. The Univision online survey results today favor Obama 3:1 over McCain, not surprising in a webpage that features the station’s favorite soap opera stars modeling Obama underwear. No McCain-themed underwear was available.
If you would like to follow Latin American coverage of the Presidential race, the Hispanic Center for Economic Research (HACER) is a great resource listing Latin American newspapers, magazines, and TV and radio stations.
Last month IBD explored A Lousy Latin Lover
Foreign Policy: Following Barack Obama’s European tour, Bill Richardson has big plans for the candidate to visit Latin America next. But a look at what Obama has in store doesn’t give the region much to look forward to.
• Guatemala: Obama can tell Guatemalans he voted “no” on their free-trade deal, attempting to shut the tiny democracy out of access to the world’s biggest market, though it cost American workers nothing. There’s more: His endorsers in the AFL-CIO want Guatemala’s treaty revoked permanently over a few labor violations instead of working with them to a solution.
Go read the rest.
Lousy lover, indeed.
Fausta analyses the Latin American press, a notorious leftist one, and finds that even in rightwing countries like Colombia, it’s overwhelmingly pro-Obama. No wonder Obama has the supposed approval of most Latin American countries, despite his opposition to free trade and adherence to ethanol tariffs – the locals haven’t even heard of McCain! This is a real dereliction of duty.
Meanwhile, in the Netherlands
The Party for Freedom (PVV) considers that public broadcaster NPS is giving a disproportionately large amount of attention to US presidential candidate Barack Obama and is thereby conveying a picture of Republican candidate John McCain having no chance in the race for the White House.
(h/t Gates of Vienna)