Misunderstanding Each Other

By Richard Lambert

A paper by Richard Lambert, fall 2002 fellow, explores U.S. – Europe relations through the lens of the media. The early 2000s saw a change of tone in the reporting and commentary on western Europe in the U.S. print media. From the right of the political spectrum came a sense of deep distrust and icy contempt, and even more moderate publications often conveyed a mixture of irritation and bemusement, portraying a group of inefficient and eccentric nations with a troubled past and a doubtful future. The final months of 2002 were a testing time for the Atlantic alliance, with widespread disagreement about the best way to deal with Iraq. This apparent rift brings to the fore an important question: what would Americans understand about Europe if their only source of current information were the U.S. print media? And how are newspapers in the three biggest European countries—Germany, France, and the United Kingdom— covering these same issues? Since newspapers and magazines tend to reflect and reinforce the views of their readers, this comparison reveals something about the state of the transatlantic relationship. It also helps to highlight the main areas of disagreement and suggest potential trouble spots in the future.

Download the paper (PDF).