As election day begins to unfold across the United States, TV news channels in Europe, and media around the world, are girding for a long night ahead. The final heat between incumbent Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden may or may not be decided when Europe wakes up on Wednesday — Germany’s Der Spiegel is currently leading with the headline “Why There Could Be No Winner On Election Evening” — but teams are at the ready, and some programmers have gotten creative on non-news fare.
Sporadic coverage began on international cable channels throughout the day today, though many European outlets were also focused on Monday night’s terrorist shooting spree that left four dead in Vienna. Coronavirus, a main topic of the U.S. presidential election, remains a key talking point, particularly in France where a 9PM curfew, to go along with the ongoing lockdown, has been evoked for Paris.
One thing that won’t be happening in Paris tonight is the time-honored tradition of a straw vote at Harry’s Bar. The oldest cocktail bar in Europe, and once a hangout for Ernest Hemingway and F Scott Fitzgerald, it began holding a vote in 1924 with a ballot box for ex-pat Americans. Given the lockdown in France, this is the first time since World War II that the practice has been suspended.
Trending topics on Twitter since the morning hours in Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and elsewhere included #Electionday and #Election2020.
While France’s terrestrial channels for the most part will stick to regularly scheduled fare, France2 will air a special program titled “USA 2020: The Election That Will Change The World” from 8:45PM-11PM tonight local time, followed by blanket coverage of what it’s calling “The American Choice” until 6:30AM on Wednesday, with further coverage to follow.
Cable news channel BFM TV is following “The American Night” from 10PM-4:30AM local and other cable outlets like FranceInfo and France24 are also mobilized.
France’s TV programmers have also shown a predilection for presidential themes today with Canal Plus airing The Comey Rule in the afternoon, while Jason Reitman’s 2018 Hugh Jackman-starrer The Frontrunner about Gary Hart clicks on at 11PM. Téva, a female-skewing cable channel, is airing documentary Trump: L’Homme Qui N’Aimait Pas Les Femmes by director Sabrina Harfouche from late in the evening. Taking the nostalgic approach, TCM is airing Rob Reiner’s 1995 Michael Douglas/Annette Bening-starrer The American President and Ivan Reitman’s 1993 Kevin Kline-starrer Dave.
In the UK, there is always an outsized interest in the U.S. election given the so-called “special relationship” between the two nations. And judging by polling in the UK, there is a clear majority in favor of booting Trump out of office, with more than three-quarters of voters preferring Biden, according to Politico.
(Incidentally, UK tabloid The Sun reports that the 2020 U.S. election has become the biggest betting event of all time with over £300M staked on the Betfair Exchange. Experts, per The Sun, believe the figure will reach £400M by the time the polls close.)
Brits will have a variety of options for keeping up to date with proceedings Stateside. Some may favor the purist route of watching via CNN International or similar, but the majority are likely to stick with domestic output on the BBC, ITV and Sky. In the BBC stable, BBC One, iPlayer, BBC News and BBC World are all covering.
BBC World News America presenter Katty Kay and Andrew Neil will anchor the BBC’s coverage from 11:30PM local time. This may well be Neil’s final appearance on the BBC as he prepares to become the chairman of Discovery-backed GB News, which launches in the UK in the coming months.
Tom Bradby will be in charge of ITV’s coverage from Washington at 11PM, bringing his usual debonair calm to proceedings. Piers Morgan, the former CNN host and Trump loyalist who has savaged the president’s handling of coronavirus, is set to contribute to the coverage.
Meanwhile, Sky News will be in the hands of Dermot Murnaghan, who presents from Washington at 10PM. Ed Conway will be in the UK. Eye-catching guests include former UK Ambassador to the U.S., Kim Darroch, who famously wrote cables criticizing Trump’s chaotic leadership.
In terms of written press, the UK’s Guardian and France’s Le Monde have live updates going. France’s Libération is blanketed with election coverage and Spain’s El Pais is full-bore on the election, replete with live blog. Italy’s Corriere Della Serra is highly focused on the coronavirus pandemic, but also running a special election section.
In China, state-backed Xinhua ran a story this morning about the middle-of-the-night vote in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire and later updated that to reflect the polls opening across the country.
China Communist Party mouthpiece The Global Times ran an op-ed titled “2020 Election Reflects Rapid US Political Decay And Decline,” penned by the director of the Research Center for Cyberspace Governance at Fudan University.
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