How is the USA portrayed in foreign media?

Especially Europe. When I read YouTube comments on ANY video about the United States (or any country or countries), they always devolve into complete and vicious USA bashing, mostly by Europeans.

This visceral hate for the United States has to come from somewhere. Is it the media? Is there a lot of USA-hating in the media in Europe? Especially the Scandinavian countries…

There’s your problem right there - don’t take YouTube comments to be any sort of meaningful reflection of society. In general, the US is portrayed positively, although many Europeans are aware of certain differences in ideology (religion, gay rights, weapons, foreign policy) and may tend to not like those.

ETA: Another thing to consider: the European media is, by and large, not nearly as opinionated or partisan as their US counterparts. There is no equivalent to Fox News over here - thank God!

The answer is almost certainly ‘it depends’.

When I was working in Europe a few years ago, for the most part the media was even handed. When the US invaded Iraq there was a lot of negative press against the US, but when 9/11 happened there was also a lot of sympathy for the US. I can’t speak for Scandinavia in particular, but I don’t remember an unusual amount of bad press against the US when I was there 10 years ago.

In the UK the mainstream media sometimes picks on the US government for it’s policy decisions, but no more than the US picks on the UK government for their policy decisions.

With the financial melt down in 2008 I’m sure the foreign press has a field day pointing out our flawed mortgage banking system… of course Greece, Italy, Iceland and some other European countries aren’t laughing so much at us now.

How about… the previous actions of your government(s) and the perceived inabilities of your country to be a team player globally in terms of taking appropriate action to address important global problems that we all face. It can be classed as ‘rugged individualism’ if you prefer from your perspective, but in general terms, you don’t play well with others, and as such, unpopularity and ridicule thus ensues.

It’s really not the correct forum for this, as there is no factually accurate answer, only opinion(s), such as the incredibly general - and quite possibly incorrect - one I’ve outlined above.

By any measurement of the era of universal suffrage, the USA is a society of extreme politics. For non-extremists that’s often a problem.

Foreign media is generally very polite and respectful by comparison. The media in the states has very questionable standards of behavior- it’s not quite so bad in most countries.

Like the other poster said, taking youtube as a sample may be the problem.

As Pitchmeister writes, the brainless drivel and invective that forms the bulk of YouTube comments can be ignored. I remain amazed at how these comments come about, but it would not make any difference what country, subject, or message the video contained, the comments would almost all be badly spelled, have appalling grammar, and be quite negative, to the point of vitriolic.

From my observations, treatment of the US in general media is about what you would expect. Mostly neutral. Conservative leaning outlets applaud conservative actions, left leaning outlets criticise them, and vice versa. However less so than it seems media in the US treats it own actions. Most countries report the main headlines of news of the US, most people could name the US president. After that it gets a bit thin. Probably most US citizens would be most miffed by how little people outside the US care about the goings on. Except for Hollywood of course. The plethora of desperately sad magazines that breathlessly report on the antics of vapid Hollywood celebrities is a worldwide phenomena. Scandal and celebrity rules. Ask anyone outside the US who the Secretary of State is, and nine out of ten won’t know. Ask them the name of the wife of the president who was having an affair with his intern, and nine out of ten will know. And have an opinion.

Keep in mind, too, much of Europe and places like Canada and Australia are much more liberal and much less religion-fixated than the USA. (Sort of like we were all from New York City or something). Plus, they don’t have the racial divide that plagues US inner cities and figuress prominently in the news from there. Also, nobody has the consitutional freedoms guaranteed to Americans to the braod extent the USA has, so they don’t understand the extremes of law this results in.

The rest of the civilized world has health care (did you notice it had a prominent place in the celebration of Britain in the Olympic opening ceremony?). Nobody understands the vitriol that seems to fly over the subject. Most other countries have various restrictions on free speech that would be forbidden in America. Most other countries, however they arrived at it, have strong gun control. most other countries have a much more relaxed attitude to drugs, and non-violent property crime.

It did not help that America in its war on terror ran roughshod over the rights of others and invaded a country based on questionable intelligence (of the weapons data, mainly) and for not real connection to 9-11.

So it’s not that the media is biased in reporting these things. It’s that the population of the rest of civilized world is not misled or intimidated by jingoistic “freedom fries” talk, since they are not Americans. They don’t understand why anyone would want some of the contrary situations the USA finds itself in. The comments on youturd, like any comments on the internet, are the worst assholes of those countries (no country has a monopoly) who say things with impunity knowing they are anonymous. Google “troll”.

Keep in mind that foreigners also consume HUGE quantities of US media as well. The average foreigner’s opinion of America is probably much more informed by the Hollywood blockbusters and TV shows shown on local TV or satellite than their local news media, as much as I shudder to think what conclusions can be drawn from them.

Nothing new. Try finding a copy of “Tintin in America” from the 1930’s. he wanders from Chicago mob wars to cowboys and indians fighting it out…

So how much does global (especially European) opinion of the US, and portrayal in the media, change from one US administration to the next? It seems that the US was widely reviled and portrayed horribly (with good reason) during the GWB administration, for just the sorts of reasons that md2000 mentions above. And I’m guessing that the US must have been a laughingstock during, and due to, the Monicagate inquisition. I’ve read that US politics made us a global laughingstock during the McCarthy inquisitions of the 1950’s.

Did that change much with the coming of Obama?

Geert S. in The Netherlands questioned how stupid Americans are ( “Are Americans dumber than Europeans”, Feb. 20, 2009 ), to which Cecil wrote:


To pretty much all you said (although I can’t speak for the McCarthy era). US politics in general is seen as very odd, especially with the tendency for candidates like Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachmann. The political discourse in other countries is very different, and most nations do not share the visceral distrust against politicians in general, so attempts to dumb it down a bit and appear like “one of us” don’t generally go over that well.

To tell you the truth, though, US politics is not followed that closely. Stuff like the presidential election is of course major news, and by now many people probably know who Romney is, but I don’t think many Germans could name more than one or two Republican nominees, for instance.

I shouldn’t have to tell you of all people that Europe is a big continent with many countries, and what’s true in one country is not necessarily true in another.

You’re in Germany (I think) and I’m sure you know that the politics are very different in, say, Poland or Serbia.

Not sure why you pinpointed Scandinavians, but I expect we’re pretty much like everywhere else; it depends. We’re very happy to bask in the sunshine whenever we’re mentioned or thanked and largely content to live and let else wise. Since George W. Bush’s term ran out, we’ve been pretty happy with your foreign policy, though our governments are still cleaning up their messes after the Iraq and Afghanistan debacles.

The biggest problem is probably that we get your news. Due to the nature of the internet and global broadcasting, you’re a nation with the transmit button stuck on the ON setting on the PA system. So every snide comparison against other countries, every little joke on their expense is front-page material there the next day, instead of saved for internal consumption as it is elsewhere.

So when George W. Bush says:

That’s a lot of insulted people in the Philippines. But while I could probably go on all day listing examples from that guy, it’s not of course a Bush-only thing. Even Obama has managed to insult other countries either intentionally or inadvertently, like Poland and Great Britain.

About Indian media, it mostly shows the US as strong and sensible nation. There have been reports on dual standards on terrorism against India, selling F-16 and other weapons to Pakistan and about political opposition by Obama against outsourcing but otherwise its all very positive.

The countries with “strong gun control” often don’t have laws which are any harsher or more complicated to navigate than American ones, what they don’t have is a culture of… how to put this… “my house is my castle and my guns are how I protect it”.

A lot of the portraits of the US found in foreign media comes straight from the US: movies, series. In some countries such as Spain there is a bit of backlash in that some locally-produced series (often, very succesful ones) were specifically created in order to reflect, say, “how Spanish cops work”; but this isn’t a reaction against the US, it’s a reaction against detainees in Spain thinking they have to get Mirandized, an attempt to educate our population. When you get to the point of the country’s VP (a lawyer by training :smack:) citing the American First Amendment as if it applied in Spain, you do have an evident need to educate your people in the applicable laws and procedures.