With the increasing accessibility of the Internet and the transition of the media into the digital age, American news coverage and entertainment materials are consumed by people across the globe.
As a non-U.S. resident, when I was in Vietnam, I could have a picture of what was happening in the country through the same media.
I believe the perceptions of the U.S. by informed foreigners are heavily influenced by the information given to them by American sources.
Although foreign attitudes towards the U.S. are as diverse as the topics for news in the country, political news coverage tends to draw out an unfavorable image of America.
Due to America’s multiparty political system, there are times when one party poses non-violent, defamatory attacks on another.
Such efforts to find fault with and put party leaders down on illegitimate grounds cost the American political system respect from foreign observers.
During the 2012 presidential election, which received intense media coverage, in response to Romney’s questions regarding President Obama’s birthplace, Obama’s campaign staff jokingly produced a mug with the president’s birth certificate on it.
Actions like these, though trivial, can invoke a negative impression from people whose culture holds national leaders in high esteem.
The 2012 presidential election is also a great example for how the media’s use of advanced technology affects foreign perception on the U.S.
Take, for example, Romney’s leaked video in a private fundraiser at Boca Raton on May 17 saying to his sponsors that he had no regard for the 47 percent of the population who were dependent on the government and who refused to take personal responsibility.
This not only served as a blow to Romney campaign but also as a negative image presented to anyone following the presidential race.
People with Internet connections from all over the world could easily find the video on Mother Jones website or their U.S. political news feeds.
Similarly, tactless remarks from U.S. government officials of high positions circulate internationally, dampening American political reputation.
Rep. Todd Akin’s legitimate rape” comment offended many foreign feminist communities.
In addition to reading news coverage of current events in the States, people outside the U.S can observe and virtually participate in live occurrences.
Live streams on various platforms, especially YouTube, enable audiences regardless of location to watch what is going down.
The filibuster of Rep. Wendy Davis covered by the Texas Tribune cast political outrage among viewers.
Although foreign audience’s opinions on the abortion matter may vary, the incident brought American democracy under a bad light when the date of the voting on record was changed to make it look like the Republicans got their votes in on time.
Thanks to social media, this undemocratic and illegal action by the state officials was obvious not only to the people watching the live stream, but also to a broader audience.
Via Twitter, reporters for the Texas Tribune and the Austin American-Statesman blogged about the record change, along with a screen caption from the Texas Legislature Online History website.
News commentary is another feature that leaves a destructive effect on how foreigners perceive the U.S.
Even though to some Americans, the Colbert Report and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart are entertaining to watch—my personal favorite—the way politicians and American politics are ridiculed on the shows convey the sheer disapproval and frustration of Americans of their own country.