Foreign media took interest in Trumbull voters

American families gathering in celebration of the Christmas holiday today probably will face more uncomfortable debate about the presidential election that has been in the history books for more than six weeks.

At my house, the topic has been ordered as strictly off limits in an attempt to ensure that we promote not only peace on Earth but peace at the dinner table.

The sting felt by liberal supporters of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is probably most harsh in places like Trumbull County, where blue-collar Rust Belt voters turned their backs on the Democratic nominee for the first time since 1972. It’s that switch that triggered the influx of national and international media to our little corner of the world, particularly after this area voted so strongly for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.

Trumbull County Republican Party Chairman Randy Law has acquired a distinct understanding about the huge influx of global media, largely because many of them were reaching out to him in the months leading up to the election and even in the weeks since it wrapped up.

Law recently rattled off a staggering list of worldwide media that had found its way to Trumbull County, sending our local message to hundreds of millions of people in foreign lands.

They included Norwegian TV; Australian media; four Asian newspapers; and Tokyo broadcasting. Multiple broadcast and print mediums from the United Kingdom did stories from here, as did television news stations from Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden. NHK, Japan’s largest broadcasting organization, visited Trumbull County to do stories on at least three separate occasions. Of course, Canadian media, PBS and CNN visited more than once, and even the Middle Eastern Al Jazeera network spent time in Trumbull County.

Some of these media organizations, including Tokyo broadcasting, PBS and CNN, returned after the election, as they tried to make sense of the shift from blue to red.

Among them was CNN’s Van Jones, who had dinner with the Seitz family of McDonald as part of a show examining the voter switch from Obama to Trump. During the interview, Scott Seitz said he thinks the loss of local manufacturing plants had a lot to do with a new hope that Trump will help the economy.

Law said communicating with these reporters was not typically a problem because most of them spoke excellent English and had a good understanding of the issues. They also knew the importance of swing state Ohio’s role in the election and, from Law’s view, often wanted to delve deeper in to the details of politics than domestic news agencies did.

Law said his role in the interviews varied from sit-downs in the office, to tours of the county, to references to other local sources. Most, he said, focused their questions on the economy, and most simply could not grasp the attraction that Americans had with Trump.

Law described Al Jazeera as among the most interesting interviews.

“We didn’t know he was coming,” Law said of the reporter who had been driving across the country when he stopped in Trumbull County largely because he had seen other international coverage of our area. The interview, he said, focused on issues dealing with changes to the local manufacturing base. U.S. trade policies and their effect on the global economy were also a big focus.

Nearly two months later, Clinton supporters still are reeling, and it’s likely heated debate about this unexpected, yet decisive, choice by Americans will be discussed for quite some time. In fact, it probably will be used in historical analysis of American politics for the next century.

And based on the vast number of international media reports focused on Trumbull County, it might just be safe to say that the Mahoning Valley may be an equally important part of the historical analysis of U.S. leadership not only taught in American classrooms but in classrooms around the world.

blinert@tribtoday.com

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