Barack Obama's India trip struggles to make it to US headlines

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jan 27, 2015 15:43 IST

While Indian dailies ceremoniously splashed news about US President Barack Obama across their front pages for the past three days, coverage in US newspapers remained subdued. But their online editions were very active in covering the most powerful man's trip to the world's largest democracy.

Not once did Obama's India visit make the front page in of any major US newspaper.

The Wall Street Journal did just one story on the visit, which was relegated to its World Page (page no 9).

The New York Times had two stories but one - "Obama Clears a Hurdle to Better Ties With India" - was carried on the fifth page of the January 26 edition while the other, "In India, Obama Elevates the Nation's Self-Esteem", made it to the twelfth page of the January 27 edition.

The Washington Post's sole story--"Obama to stress trade, environment in India"--made it no further than the seventeenth page of its January 25 edition.

But online editions of the dailies churned out many stories about the visit. Most of this coverage focussed on "behind the scenes" stories rather than the hard politics and global issues that dominated discussions between Modi and Obama.

The US online media published numerous reports on Modi's dress sense - some ridiculing, some appreciating his choice of attire.

WSJ's story "Narendra Modi Outshines Michelle Obama With Airport Outfit" featured a poll that asked readers to choose "who dressed the best?" The poll garnered 1,164 votes, with 83.7% going to Modi, who greeted the Obamas at Palam airbase in a beige kurta with a saffron-coloured shawl draped over his shoulder.

WSJ did two more reports about Modi's mannerisms. One titled "Modi Shakes Obama's Hand and Doesn't Let Go" described Modi's lingering handshake as a "new diplomatic weapon". Another titled "Five Things Modi Did to Impress Obama" listed some of the things that WSJ suggested "could only happen during a visit to Mr Modi".

The Washington Post ridiculed Modi's suit, whose pinstripes were made up of his name embroidered over and over again, through an article headlined "Prime Minister Modi wore a suit that takes personalization to a ridiculous extreme". It published another report, "Here's what Narendra Modi's fashion says about his politics", which dissected the prime minister's fashion sense.

The Post also published a story focussing on Modi's wife Jashodaben that was headlined "Abandoned as a child bride, wife of Narendra Modi hopes he calls," and went on to claim that Modi "never publicly spoke of his wife, and journalists who sniffed around on the topic as Modi's fame grew were privately discouraged from doing so".

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