The Moment I Quit Taking The Young Turks Seriously
Want a guide to watching The Young Turks? Listen to the first sixty seconds of each of their stories and then close out your window. In the first minute, whoever is hosting will introduce their story by presenting the facts regarding a particular event. The next five to ten minutes will be an oversimplified commentary on the story that is worthless to your further understanding. If you can’t tell: I’m a disaffected former daily viewer of the Young Turks.
To be clear, there are plenty of areas where I agree with TYT. I’m of the clear belief that money in politics is one of the foundational issues keeping the government from working for the average American. I believe that the large media corporations, regardless of their political leanings, push forward narratives that don’t represent real facts. I believe that corruption runs rampant in American politics, even if I think that more government is not necessarily the solution to that problem. I agree wholeheartedly with their defense of free speech and non-violence when protesting speech that you disagree with. Point being, we have some major areas of agreement. These are all major issues that greatly concern me on a daily basis, and I find myself agreeing with their diagnoses of these issues.
However, the one thing that I can’t stand from any political commentator, whether I agree with them or not, is a lack of intellectual honesty. For the same reason that I can’t stand to watch Occupy Democrats (overly simplistic), NowThis (overly biased for my taste), or any mainstream media outlet (waste of time), I can’t stand to watch The Young Turks anymore. The reason? I no longer trust their commentary and, furthermore, cannot stand their hypocrisy.
I first encountered The Young Turks when I was first exposed to Ron Paul. One day when going down one of my patented obsessive internet binges (where I try to find out as much as I can about a person or concept), I found an interview with Cenk Uygur in which I thought he was being very fair to Paul, especially as a liberal news organization. While I didn’t subscribe to their news then, I rediscovered them a few years later during the 2015 – 2016 Democratic Primaries.
I had recently just discovered Bernie Sanders and, again, went on an internet binge to find any information on him that I could. Cenk and crew were being the fairest to his candidacy that I found, even if they were (self-admittedly) biased towards him. Mentioning his credentials, how he was being conned out of the Democratic nomination, and covering the lack of media attention for him endeared them to me. During this time, I basically ignored their other news stories and watched EVERY. SINGLE. VIDEO. concerning both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. I found myself agreeing with them more often than not.
But then Bernie lost the primary election, Trump won the presidential election and then news slowed down. Well – kind of – since Trump seems to make news on a daily basis. Nonetheless, I started paying more attention to the non-election news that TYT was covering. Around this time, coverage of a study started trending across all my social media feeds. The study cited polling that suggested that only 36% of Republicans thought that higher education institutions were positively influencing the direction of the United States.
Having grown up in a skeptical – but admittedly Conservative – household, I was interested to see how the media would react to this polling. I fully understood what the Republican position was in regards to higher education and why many of them didn’t think that universities were making a positive difference in regards to the United States ethos.
This was a chance for The Young Turks, a news organization that constantly derides Conservatives and mainstream media for lacking nuance, to prove to me that they wouldn’t fall into the intellectual trap. They failed miserably. Before I saw the coverage by TYT regarding this story, I wrote an article on why Republicans view higher education as not contributing positively to the direction of the country. I started the article with the following:
This could be the easiest article to write in the world. I obviously support higher education (having been to college and reaped it’s rewards), so this entire article could be just another echo of what’s already been written on this poll. Conservatives are stupid and they don’t support people being smart because they are stupid. We could be done there and wrap this thing up pretty quickly.
Unfortunately, I think that would be a bit intellectually lazy. When a poll or opposing viewpoint seems simplistic and cut-and-dry, usually it means that viewpoint is being misrepresented.
The next day, lo and behold, here was Ana Kasparian touting that exact talking point on The Young Turks.
I spent a few hours here breaking down the problem with that poll and explaining further why many Conservatives feel that higher education is not leading the United States in a positive direction. That article was written by a person with a few extra hours and an open mind towards issues, and yet I feel that I more accurately commented on this story than a full-time news organization. This led me to believe that one of two things were true about The Young Turks:
- They are only interested in understanding nuance when it supports something that they agree with.
- They are so biased, that even if they understand the context of the poll, they don’t care to present facts to their overwhelmingly liberal audience.
Either of these two options is problematic for the person looking to them for objective news coverage. Either they are too biased to understand (or care about) the Conservative perspective, or they are too biased to report on it. Furthermore, after more watching, I saw this pattern repeat itself over and over. I saw red flags in Cenk Uygur calling Sam Harris a pseudo-intellectual. I watched as they attributed a quote to Matt Christiansen that he never said. I felt uncomfortable during the election when Ben Mankiewicz challenged Cenk Uygur on his hypocrisy of calling out media narratives while kowtowing to his own “Bernie Got Screwed” narrative.
As if that wasn’t enough, during Politicon 2017, I watched the live stream of a debate between The Young Turks founder Cenk Uygur and Ben Shapiro in which Ben Shapiro absolutely wiped the floor with him. By the end of the debate, Cenk had resorted to telling the audience to “Google it” and starting a weird chant of “USA, USA, USA” as if that were a rational debate tactic. If there is one way for me to immediately disregard your position, it is to not support it with rationality and factual evidence. Unfortunately for Cenk and The Young Turks, it seems that all I can gain from them is the current leftist talking points.
All of that being said, I respect Cenk Uygur’s passion for his causes and I support many of the same things that he does. I hold him in high regard for leaving MSNBC when they tried to censor what he could talk about. I idolize his push to create a company from nothing and go out on his own to run the news in the way that he thinks is authentic.
The problem is that I want to hold my ideas for the right reasons. In my mind, the only way to come to that correct perspective is to have each side of the argument accurately represented. Then, you make your decision from there. Unfortunately, I don’t think that The Young Turks really serve that purpose for me anymore.