When VideoInk caught up with Cenk Uygur, founder of the digital news outlet The Young Turks, in the VidCon press area at the Anaheim Convention Center last Friday, he was deep in conversation with the head of audience development and digital strategy for the Hillary Clinton campaign, Sarah Galvez, formerly of Maker Studios.
Uygur is not exactly simpatico with Clinton, but, as the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, the former secretary of state and first lady would be a bigger get than ever for TYT, and Uygur is nothing if not a savvy media player. And, given the effectiveness that TYT has shown in reaching young, politically-engaged viewers — it’s ranked by comScore as the №1 online news & politics network among viewers aged 13–24 — it might behoove Clinton to roll the dice and meet face-to-face with Uygur, even if his attitude towards her is less than reverent.
It’s no secret that Uygur and TYT have enjoyed a bit of a love fest with Clinton’s primary opponent Bernie Sanders, with whom TYT shares a progressive political agenda and a passionate millennial following.
The relationship reached its apex late last month, when Sanders dropped by TYT’s Culver City, Ca., studios for an exclusive 30-minute interview with Uygur that was watched live by 300,000 viewers on the TYT YouTube channel and Facebook Live.
But, in the ensuing weeks, Hillary Clinton won a series of key primaries, effectively securing the Democratic presidential nomination, and Sanders’ campaign was written off as a lost cause by all but the most hardcore Berners, many of whom are convinced that he has been the victim of a conspiracy to steal the nomination.
Uygur believes that the deck has been stacked against Sanders, but not in the nefarious, cloak-and-dagger way many of his supporters envision.
Traditionally, journalists have been told to strive for impartiality, but Uygur makes no bones about tackling the news with passionate advocacy, whether it means calling out Donald Trump for hypocrisy or participating in (and getting arrested at) a Democracy Spring protest in Washington D.C. last April.
Impassioned advocacy does have its risks, especially for an outspoken gun control supporter like Uygur, but it’s also the key to the popularity of The Young Turks, which has the longest-running daily online live show, with 86 million unique monthly views across platforms.
“I’ve got the most weaponized people in the world the most angry at me, but that’s my job to tell the truth,” Uygur said.