A look at international media coverage of the Biden-Trump debate

London — The results of the presidential election in November will be important to U.S. allies and adversaries around the world, so there was interest worldwide in the debate between President Biden and former President Trump. Foreign media outlets’ coverage of the debate can lend some insight into the priorities and viewpoints in other countries. 

Here is a glimpse at how some international media covered Thursday night’s debate.

United Kingdom: The Times of London and The Guardian

Three stories on the homepage of The Times of London, generally considered a right-leaning newspaper, were about the debate. One outlined key moments and spoke about Democrats’ concern over President Biden’s performance

One was a commentary, and one was an explainer outlining whether it would be possible for the Democratic Party to replace Mr. Biden as its candidate before the election.

The Guardian, a left-leaning newspaper, ran multiple stories about the debate, focusing on Mr. Biden’s performance and his resistance to calls for him to step down as the Democratic candidate. It also published an article outlining media reactions to the debate, with the headline: “’10 minutes to destroy a presidency’: how US and global media reviewed the Biden-Trump debate.”

France: Le Monde

France’s Le Monde newspaper noted that President Biden was “raspy and sometimes halting” during the debate, and said Trump was “bombastic” and had “lashed out” with personal attacks.

Germany: Der Spiegel

In addition to a debate fact check article and an editorial, on its homepage, Der Spiegel ran a story with reactions from German politicians.

“This night will not be forgotten. The Democrats must now change course,” Norbert Röttgen, a foreign affairs expert and lawmaker with the center-right Christian Democratic Union party, told the paper.

Left-leaning German member of the European Parliament Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann was quoted as saying: “The Democrats must react immediately and put a new candidate into the race. The fact that a man like Trump could become president again because the Democrats are not in a position to put up a strong candidate against him would be a historic tragedy that the whole world would feel.”

“Joe Biden presented many facts unclearly and was sometimes difficult to understand linguistically,” Michael Link, of the liberal FDP party, was quoted as saying. “That’s a shame, because unlike Trump, he presented many important facts. But he didn’t get his message across enough.” 

Ukraine: Kyiv Post

In Ukraine — which will need continued support from the U.S. in its ongoing fight against Russia’s invasion no matter who wins in November — the only coverage of the debate on the Kyiv Post was an editorial analyzing other media reaction to the debate. 

It said that neither President Biden nor Trump had articulated a stance on the war in Ukraine that was different from either of their previously stated positions.

Russia: RIA Novosti 

The lead story on the homepage of Russia’s state-run RIA Novosti news agency was about the French parliamentary elections, but there was also coverage of the U.S. presidential debate. 

That story, in addition to touching on certain topics from the debate, led with a line about Democratic officials looking to potentially replace President Biden as the party’s candidate.

Israel: Haaretz

The lead story on the Haaretz website was an editorial calling the debate a “sad night for America.” 

The coverage of the event focused on what both candidates had to say about the war between Israel and Hamas. It said the fact the topic came up in the first 35 minutes of the debate “demonstrates how abnormally significant Israel will be in the upcoming election.”

South Korea: Yonhap News Agency

Yonhap’s coverage called the debate “rancorous,” but did not touch on President Biden’s performance, apart from one mention of his “hoarse voice.” 

The story on its website homepage focused on the topics covered in the debate, including immigration, inflation and foreign policy.

Iran: Iran Republic News Agency (IRNA)

Iran’s state run news agency, IRNA, did not appear to cover the U.S. debate at all. Iran is having its own presidential election, which dominated the headlines.

Nigeria: Punch Newspaper

Nigeria’s Punch Newspaper covered the debate on its front page using AFP News agency reporting. The headline on the article was: “Biden struggles in fiery debate with Trump.”

Mexico: El Universal

El Universal’s coverage focused on Mr. Biden’s performance and Trump’s emphasis on immigration

Labeling Trump the winner, the newspaper said Mr. Biden made “erratic statements” and had a “hoarse, weak voice.” 

It went through a number of issues covered by the two politicians in the debate, and said Trump had told numerous lies and demonstrated that his strategy was to undermine his opponent’s competence and paint immigration as a major issue facing the U.S.

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