Following the US Presidential Election from the UK

It’s a little over five weeks until the US Presidential Election on Tuesday 6 November 2012.  Of course, this has already made the headlines in the UK, not least when Republican Candidate Mitt Romney found himself being castigated by London Mayor Boris Johnson in front of a crowd of tens of thousands at Hyde Park for questioning London’s preparations for the 2012 Olympic Games.  And although the Internet provides access to more media sources than ever before, unfortunately copyright restrictions still inhibit unlimited access to US media sources across national boundaries.   Below is a guide to some of the better sources of coverage both from UK media and US media (with an angle towards those sources that are more readily available in the UK).

UK Media

UK broadcasters and newspapers are devoting significant resources to their coverage.  As far as the BBC is concerned, former North America editor Justin Webb deserves credit for his understanding of the US, particularly beyond what most in the UK see of the East and West Coast.   Justin Webb’s recent report from Miami on the polarisation of US politics is worth watching.

The BBC also has its own daily US news programme, BBC World News America, which is shown on public television in the US and on BBC World News (not available in the UK).  However, selected items from the programme can be viewed online.

The BBC has yet to announce its plans for coverage on election night.  However, it can be assumed it will have a dedicated programme from its studio in Washington as per 2008, which was famous for Simon Schama’s confrontation with John Bolton.

Another UK broadcaster worthy of mention is Matt Frei of Channel 4 News, who was the BBC’s former North America editor and presenter of the now defunct weekly radio programme Americana and his departure from the BBC was something of a loss to the corporation.

The Guardian has sought (once again) to boost its presence in the US, despatching journalists Matt Wells and Janine Gibson to New York and it has a dedicated US news section on its website.

Not that all Americans are enamoured with The Guardian.  It gained notoriety in 2004 for organising a letter writing campaign (dubbed “Operation Clark County”) by its readers to undecided voters in Clark County, Ohio.     This backfired to such an extent that some claimed The Guardian helped turn Ohio from John Kerry to George Bush.

For the story of this campaign, you can read this explanation by the then editor of G2 Ian Katz as well as a sample of the responses from the US to the campaign.

Other UK print publications worthy of mention are The Financial Times and The Economist. The FT has a dedicated section online (registration/subscription required). Good recent features include this tour of Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters. The FT’s Gillian Tett (one of a handful of journalists to have foreseen the global financial crisis) is also noteworthy for commentary on the US economy, such as
this recent article on US debt and deleveraging. The Economist, both an admirer and critical friend of the US, has a dedicated section for US politics on its website.

US media sources

Turning to US media sources, in a sign of the times, one of most noteworthy is the satirical The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.  Unfortunately this is no longer shown on free-to-air television in the UK.  However, it is on Comedy Central UK and individual episodes are available to purchase on iTunes. Sadly, the same cannot be said of Stephen Colbert’s The Colbert Report which is no longer available on TV in the UK.

Turning to the US cable news networks, as is to be expected there are devoting huge resources to their coverage, see CNN’s Election Centre. One noteworthy show is Reliable Sources, hosted by Howard Kurtz on CNN US on Sunday mornings.  Individual items from the show which takes a critical look at US media coverage are available to view online.

Howard Kurtz is also a blogger for The Daily Beast, a creation of former Vanity Fair and Talk magazine editor Tina Brown.  Also blogging for The Daily Beast on US politics are David Frum and Andrew Sullivan.

Also of note in blogosphere is Towleroad which has extensive coverage us US political issues, particularly concerning gay rights in America.

Returning to US TV, BBC Parliament rebroadcasts America This Week and Washington Journal from political cable channel C-SPAN at lunchtime on Sundays.   BBC News rebroadcasts ABC World News with Diane Sawyer at 1.30am in the morning and Sky News rebroadcasts CBS Evening News at 00.30.   CNBC Europe rebroadcasts NBC Nightly News at 00.30.  CNBC also rebroadcasts Sunday morning talk show, Meet The Press throughout the day on Sundays.   This is also available as download as a video podcast from iTunes.  The PBS Newshour, is perhaps the closest you’ll get to BBC News in the US is available to watch online from the UK.

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