International press coverage of the 2016 presidential election was the main focus of the panel hosted by the school’s International Affairs Group (IAG). The panel was held in Room 201 on the second floor of the Javelina Dining Hall Friday, Oct. 14.
The IAG is a lecture series that has been operating on campus for about 20 years. They have focused on topics like ISIS in the Middle East as well as discussing the international press coverage of the last three election cycles. The informative discussion was hosted by professors from various departments, all of whom had personal relations with the region they decided to focus on: Dr. Dean Ferguson, a medieval history professor, Dr. Richard Hartwig, a political science professor, and last minute replacement, Dr. Jieming Chen, a visiting sociology professor.
Dr. Chen began the lecture by evaluating the general reaction from the Chinese media. Chinese relations have been continually brought up during this election process, making it a pivotal topic for the candidates. Dr. Chen mainly elaborated on the nonchalant attitude of the Chinese people towards our election, saying that not many media commenters have come forward in China. Chen continued by focusing on the objective nature of Chinese reporters, “Observers tend to act more objectively. Another point, you may find quite interesting, is that you don’t really see any opinionated comments from any one of the major news medias on what is happening in America… I have never come across any news agency that shows any kind of preference to any candidate.”
He did not say however that they have completely ignored the election, in fact there has been extensive coverage, its just that Chen described it as “detached coverage.” Chen cited a Global news article, a news agency that Dr.Chen has contributed to, that disproves Trump’s discussion that China is manipulating Chinese currency. “In fact, the argument goes that China has increased, they did not really devaluate, actually Chinese prices have increased 30% or 40% over the last few years, so its simply false,” said Chen. He continued stating that often times the same products that you buy here will be more expensive in China.
Next up to discuss was Dr. Dean Ferguson, who decided to allot his time to analyze political cartoons illustrated in Francophone and Anglophone newspapers published in Africa. Ferguson said, “There is kind of a general disappointment in the process, a disappointment in democracy in much of the African press that I have seen.” According to French papers issued in South Africa, the handling of the current presidential election, particularly in regards to Trump, is simply a symptom of decline and fear in American society. Ferguson presented many different political cartoons that illustrated that Trump merely has a caricature view of South African society and politics; with his general knowledge, Trump simply knows too little about African culture to be able to deliberate on it.
Ferguson concluded by explaining that politicians like Trump are being used to criticize other national leaders. “The other thing that is quite interesting is that Trump has become kind of a foil for criticizing their own leadership… they are using Trump as the vehicle with which they can critique their own,” said Ferguson.
The closing speaker came from Dr. Richard Hartwig. Positive responses for Donald Trump have been known to come from areas of Russia, Nigel Farage, the UK Independence party leader, and a party in Germany often known for pushing anti-immigration policy. Not much was said about the reaction to the Clinton campaign. Dr. Ferguson related that to Donald Trump being the “lightning rod” of this election.
After about an hour long discussion, the lecture concluded. Adri Hinojosa, a biomedical science major that attended the lecture, said, “The reaction from other countries is a lot like how we handle foreign countries’ elections here. Often times, we are fairly uninterested or detached to it, but every once in awhile one arises that seems to attract the eyes of the world. I think this is just one of those times.”