‘MSM biased against any candidate who can strip them of power & wealth’ - Cenk Uygur

© Mike Blake
Cenk Uygur, host and co-founder of The Young Turks, told RT’s “Watching the Hawks” about bias in campaign trail journalism and the 2016 race for the White House.

One of the underreported aspects of the US presidential campaign has been the ongoing war between the “mainstream political media” and the “alternative political media.” The battle has become particularly heated over the coverage of the primary fight between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Cenk Uygu is one of the journalists at the heart of this war.

RT: What is your response to those in the media who called you biased for support and coverage of Bernie Sanders?

Cenk Uygur: Let me explain the difference between perspective and bias. Any anchor or reporter who tells you they don’t have a perspective isn’t really being honest with you. Anderson Cooper, Wolf Blitzer, you guys who cover the news for 20-30 years - and you never had a single thought about it? It is kind of sad. Cooper says he won’t vote. What? Because you’re going to bite your own hand? Really, you don’t have a single thought in your head about who’s right, who’s wrong? You’ve looked at these issues for all those years and you never once formulated an opinion on it? That is preposterous.

Am I progressive? Hell, yeah I am, I don’t hide it at all. Who’s the most progressive candidate in this race? It’s not close, it’s Bernie Sanders. That is obvious, right? Anything else would be lying to your audience. But that doesn’t mean that you twist the facts to his favor. You don’t. For example, I disagree with him on these couple of different issues: on guns… and on important electoral issues. Like if there is no indictment I think that Hillary Clinton has more pledged delegates, the superdelegates shouldn’t switch, they should stay with her and she should win. Bernie Sanders doesn’t want to hear that, he doesn’t think that is correct. But that is my opinion on it. Just because I think he is a better candidate that doesn’t mean that I should be biased in his favor. That is what biased means when you twist things. That’s not what we do at the Young Turks.

RT: This brand of perspective-based journalism that is becoming more transparent and honest, is becoming more popular today, than the “traditional” journalism of being supposedly unbiased and just “giving the facts.” The mainstream media keeps saying that it is impartial and calling you bias though. Why is perspective-based reporting so important in today’s society?

CU: It’s because it is more honest. The reason that we’re doing much better online than all those other stations combined is because we’re authentic. Anybody can tell we’re not reading from a prompter, we’re being real and honest with the audience. When you’re talking about biased, let’s talk about mainstream media, let’s talk about CNN. Almost all those outlets, to be fair to CNN – it wasn’t just them, it was almost universal – they all started counting the superdelegates right in the beginning of the race. Now the superdelegates vote at the convention, they haven’t voted yet. They can switch. And in fact they often do switch. In fact they switched from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama in the last time we had a contested democratic primary in 2008. So either you’re a terrible journalist and don’t understand that, in which case you should immediately resign from embarrassment that you’re covering politics and don’t know elementary politics, or that was a significant bias in favor of Hillary Clinton. See, that’s twisting the facts to support the person you really want.

If you told them: “Hey, you guys actually want Hillary Clinton,” they’d say: “No, we would never do that.” But that is why you’re lying to your audience. The reality is: you can’t Bernie Sanders, because he would change the system. That is the same system that has made Time Warner Comcast, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News enormously rich and enormously powerful. They don’t want that, they are biased against any candidate that would change that. 

RT: Sanders represents this progressive push that you’re seeing in the youth, especially in the US. But when you listen to the key holders to the media, progressive has become a kind of dirty word in this election. How did the politicians convince American voters that “progressives” and “productives” are mutually exclusive? So you can’t be progressive and productive? How is it useful to the establishment to keep perpetuating that myth?

CU: Martin Luther King talked about how gradualism is the drug that they want you to take to make sure that you never get any change. We’ve seen this movie before. The reality is: the most progressive people in American politics have been the ones that have got the most amount of change. A great example of that is FDR [Franklin D. Roosevelt]. He said: “I want to go big. I’m going to do the new deal. I’m going to do social security. I’m going to revamp how this country operates.” Yeah, they call them idealistic. They said it wasn’t pragmatic. And guess what, he got it all done. It’s amazing what you can do if you just try. That is why they don’t want you to try.

Look, I give you even one more example, Ralph Nader. Now CNN is like: “Oh, Ralph Nader… joke, haha…” Do you know how strong Ralph Nader was before money corrupted politics? He got Richard Nixon to pass the Environmental Protection Agency, [OSHA] Occupational Safety and Health Administration, seatbelts. He saved millions of lives and he wasn’t even in government. That is before the Supreme Court in 1976-78 said corporations could spend money in politics. And that is when all of these got turned into: “No, the Democratic Party shouldn’t be progressive.” And if you’re not progressive, what are you Democratic Party? The reality is: both the Republicans and Democrats have become corporatist, because they rigged the system so that it is run on private money.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.