It's common for lefties to lament the rightwing dominance of talk radio, FOX News' ratings (and rantings) on cable TV and the like. But in the mass media wars, progressives seem to be winning hearts, minds -- and eyes -- in at least one crucial realm and among coveted key demographics: Left-leaning news is arguably number one in New Media.
On May 9 Cenk Uygur celebrated the billionth view of his "The Young Turks" YouTube Channel program in style, with a high-spirited party at YouTube Space LA, a spanking new high-tech studio complex.
Prior to the reception, guests were invited to watch that evening's "TYT" show in the facility's theater or on a huge screen in the lobby just outside of the studio set, where the feisty host held forth on a series of topical subjects. In the first segment, which streamed live at 6:00 p.m. (PST) to 887,919 subscribers, Uygur tackled the thorny topic of Christian cleansing in the military.
This was followed by Cenk defending the father of a Sandy Hook school-shooting victim, who was purportedly being slimed by Connecticut Carry, a pro-gun lobbying group.
The third segment dealt with bankers, and then Uygur was joined by 26-year-old "TYT" co-host Ana Kasparian, who launched into a discussion on pop culture -- with a lefty twist. Taking on the sexist issue of female body image, they defended celeb Kim Kardashian, who was being raked over the coals for her weight gain -- while pregnant!
Uygur and Kasparian proceeded to go global, denouncing a Christian school in South Africa for threatening to expel a student unless his legally married lesbian parents divorced.
This punchy, progressive programming has propelled "The Young Turks" to a top spot on the Google-owned YouTube's channels. (While Uygur is going strong in the YouTube universe, his daily "The Young Turks" program on Current TV -- which Al Gore sold to Al Jazeera -- continues to air. However, according to Steven Oh, "TYT's" future on Current remains uncertain, as Al Jazeera retools and rejiggers the cable TV network.)
At the party at YouTube Space LA, Jed Simmons, co-founder and COO of Next New Networks, an independent producer of online video networks acquired by YouTube, spoke beside the giant screen, where he was joined by Uygur and "TYT" Chief Operating Officer Steven Oh.
"What YouTube does is to build an eco-system of channels," explained Simmons. "It took only seven months to build YouTube Space LA, which opened in November 2012. It's free. Come here and innovate. Bring little in terms of tools -- we supply [the equipment]. It's yours to create programs with." Touting "TYT", Simmons added, "Tonight was the first night a live news program [originated] in YouTube Space LA." ("The Young Turks" is usually presented at a studio near Culver City, but to mark "TYT's" billionth view, Google opened up its space and helped foot the celebration's bill.)
Steven Oh went on to declare that the "TYT" network has "undergone tremendous growth, with 20 million unique viewers and almost 1 million subscribers of 'TYT' shows
'The Point,' 'Nerd Alert,' 'Pop Cultured,' and 'TYT-Plus,' which launched today," and is a premium channel with bonus content for a subscription fee of $4.99 per month.
Lauding the New Media outlet, Oh declared: "YouTube created a platform where people with dreams can make dreams come true. YouTube is a place of opportunity. And none of this would have been possible without our talented, fearless leader."
At this, an ebullient Uygur took the stage to address the so-called "TYT Army," thanking associates such as Oh and "Point" Executive Producer Malcolm Fleschner, then proclaiming: "When somebody tells you something can't be done, it's not true." Recounting his bumpy media career, Uygur said, "In 2002 at every point we ran into roadblocks. But it turns out it can be done!... Today we are the largest online news show in the world. We started as young progressives looking to overthrow the established system. FOX is propaganda for the Republicans. MSNBC is propaganda for the Democrats. CNN is propaganda for both."
Uygur insisted that instead of following party lines, viewers "look for someone to tell the truth... It's about change. ... No one has a monopoly on the truth, but if one is honest and not a news actor -- we do our best to be as honest as you can be. You can't buy us. As a company we turned down lots of offers to stay true... It's not the strength of the personalities but the ideas -- be honest. Serve the audience, change the media. That's why our grand goal is to change the government and get money out of government," Uygur proclaimed, referring to www.wolf-pac.com, a "TYT"-backed initiative to reverse Citizens United and safeguard representative democracy by passing a constitutional amendment that would enact public financing of elections.
"We don't have the resources of Rupert Murdoch or the Koch brothers," Uygur said, noting that skeptics wonder how the left can compete. "I'm here to tell you it can be done and we'll do it," he said. "If you dare to try for change you can do it. I don't view 1 billion views as a culmination -- we're just getting started... If it takes 10 billion views to change the government, we'll do it." At this Uygur and everyone in the crowd raised champagne-filled glasses as Cenk said: "Here's a toast to the next billion."