Wednesday, June 04, 2008

US News, the Mexican Report

People seem to think that because we are in Mexico we do not know what is going on in the states. During the recent, prolonged primary season, people would say that it must be nice to be in Mexico and not have to deal with the idiocies of the campaign, or since we are in Mexico we did not really understand what was going on.

Contrary to what you might have expected 20-30 years ago, I have never been so well informed about a campaign. We get CNN (based in Hong Kong and mostly about Asia), TV5 (French, with better world coverage than CNN and better Latin America coverage than BBC, which we no longer get), CBS evening news, and various Mexican channels. But except for primary nights, TV is not very enlightening, even in the US.

Mostly, we get our news via the Internet, and more importantly we have the time to read the New York Times, the Washington Post, Time Magazine, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution for “local” news, Le Monde, Le Figaro and nearly every other paper in the world we want to. I have RSS leads to stories I follow, such as politics and the situation in Zimbabwe and Mexico. We read local and major Mexican newspapers nearly every day (no home delivery), and there is a Mexican English language paper supported by the NYT. We also have connections to all the NPR stations around the US, which I usually do not listen too since I used to listen to NPR in the car, and it is hard to get used to listening to it when I am doing other things. But we do have All Things Considered and Morning Edition if we want, plus I have RSS leads to their major stories.

I was lucky to read the newspaper and watch some CNN when we worked in the states. Now I have all day if I want to read up on something, and I probably spend too much time doing so.

I would say that I am better informed here than I ever was in the US, even about people’s individual stands and issues, as I read the letters to the editor of many papers and the occasional blog (although most of the blogs are worthless). I also discuss politics through e-mail with a bunch of folks from around the country who are not retired, but who seem to have an awful lot of time on their hands (you know who you are!). And lastly, there is a well-educated and well-informed group of retired Americans and Canadians in Querétaro who really do have the time to read and talk about the issues at one of various cafes around the city.

This is the 21st century, not the 1960s in Africa or the 1970s in Mexico. Folks overseas are not out of touch any more.

What really disappoints me is that Americans are so out of touch with the rest of the world, even if they also have the Internet. The NYT had an editorial on why the US should help Mexico in the drug war, and the response of presumably educated and well-informed NYT readers showed an incredible lack of understanding of the issue, of the US’s interest in the issue, or of the situation in Mexico. This seems to be especially true of people from states along the border who, because of being next to the border, think they know Mexico, but have a twisted idea of what Mexico is all about based on Nuevo Laredo, Tijuana, etc., and maybe Lou Dobbs. Sort of like making conclusions about the US based on Detroit or Brownsville and Lou Dobbs.

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