“I’m the poorest famous person in the country,” says the CEO of The Young Turks, Cenk Uygur.
If your response to that is “who?” then you’re probably an old person, in Uygur’s view. On the latest episode of Recode Media with Peter Kafka, he explained how he runs the left-wing digital video network, which he says reaches between 60 million and 70 million people every month, many of them millennials.
“If you don’t watch The Young Turks, you don’t know me at all,” he said. “Whereas no one watches Anderson Cooper, but everyone knows him. It’s an interesting phenomenon, and part of the reason for that is TV and old media — and it’s not because they’ve made a political decision or anything — they just live in that world. They’re biased towards old media.”
“They think, ‘If you have a million people who watch you on TV, you’re a huge star! And we’re going to give you 20 magazine covers! And we’re going to talk about you nonstop!’” Uygur added. “They [viewers] see CNN at the pizza shop and at the bar and out of the corner of their eye, but nobody watches Anderson Cooper.”
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Later in the show, however, Uygur faulted cable news for the rise of Donald Trump and the defeat of Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders. Uygur didn’t want to use the term “Bernie bro,” but described himself as an “early, middle and late supporter” of the Vermont senator.
“We’re anti-establishment, so I don’t need them to like me,” he said. “I don’t need them to give me a pat on the back ... Cable news won’t allow anyone who supports Bernie Sanders on TV. And then they’ll turn around and go, ‘Well, you guys don’t have any stars.’ Because you didn’t put any of them on! And then since you don’t know them, they’re not stars.”
So, even though ostensibly no one chooses to watch CNN, Uygur made it clear he cares a lot about who gets put on the air by traditional TV media.
“In politics, name recognition matters a lot,” he said. “When they starved Bernie Sanders of attention in 2015, they robbed him of an equal playing field. When they showered Donald Tump with attention in 2015, they gave him an unbelievable advantage.”
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This article originally appeared on Recode.net.