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The Foreign Tv Watch

Brendan Bernhard has been a staff writer for LA Weekly, and was the television columnist for The New York Sun.

Election Day found me across the Atlantic in France, but like any good American, I was glued to the television. The only difference was the time (six hours in advance of New York) and the faces, voices, and languages on the screen. CNN International, BBC World, Al Jazeera English, and dozens of French stations were at my disposal.

Let's start with France, where, unlike on CNN, they didn't need gizmos ranging from holograms to Magic Maps to smell an Obama victory before the sun rose in America on Tuesday. On the pay station Canal +, I watched a typical French talk-show: An unremarkable looking host, a motley panel of guests, and a small studio audience scattered around the edges of a stage so aggressively bright and shiny it looked as if it had been hosed down by a team of exterminators. A cockroach would have died just looking at it.

"One has the feeling that one is going to vote for the president of the world," said Ariel Wizman, a raven-haired journalist, actor, and musician. Did he want a president of the world? Was he voicing an unspoken wish? Hard to say. The best part of the show was an illustrated segment on America's first ladies and--in the words of the male host--"the primordial importance of women." Ah, yes. It's at a moment like this you realize you're definitely not watching an American program in which, for some reason, everyone is speaking French.

Read the full piece here.