By Steve Kelman

Blog archive

The Lectern: Covering election night for Swedish television

As I mentioned in my last post, the two leading Swedish TV channels ran continuous coverage -- through the night, Swedish time -- of the US election returns. I appeared making comments for TV4, now the largest network in Sweden.
 
One thing that amazed me was the degree of knowledge the Swedish experts on the show had about US politics. TV4 had a Stockholm-based expert who presented the returns as they were coming in real time. The names of the various states, along with their voting history and significance for the election results, flew out of his mouth as if he were CNN's John King or ABC's George Stephanopoulos. How many American TV journalists could have spoken with any knowledge at all about various provinces in the old Soviet Union or in today's China, for example? (I remember several decades ago being challenged by my old college friend Chuck Schumer -- aka Senator Charles Schumer -- to name as many Soviet republics as I could. He knew all of them, an amazing feat.) My fellow-commentators in Washington, all Swedes, were amazingly insightful and deeply knowledgeable about American society as well as American politics.
 
Second, the pro-Obama slant was unmistakable. The show was broadcast from the Swedish Embassy, which had an election night party with about 200 guests, mostly Swedes, who drank wine and ate pizza and Doritos. When the networks gave the race to Obama at 11 pm, the crowd broke out in thunderous applause. Back in Sweden, the network interviewed both the Swedish prime minister (a conservative) and the leader of the left-wing opposition, and both expressed support for Obama. (However, the Swedish Trade Minister had previously expressed worry about possible trade protectionism under an Obama administration.)
 
I got a number of emails from Sweden about my appearance. The nicest of them said that I seemed like a "nice, funny, and modest person." That put a smile on my face.
 
BTW, blog readers should check out comments on my previous blog post from a number of Chinese students. It is clear that the Obama victory makes them more sympathetic to the US, and inspires them about democracy.

Posted by Steve Kelman on Nov 06, 2008 at 12:10 PM


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