One of the pitfalls of running a for-profit media company that traffics almost entirely in one specific brand of political opinion is that your funding, and where it comes from, becomes especially relevant. If you spend all day espousing what you claim are strongly liberal views, then turn around and take a giant bag of money from, say, a former Republican candidate for president and governor of Louisiana who has worked against a woman’s right to choose and in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act, people might accuse you of being a bit hypocritical.
Just a little while ago the Young Turks Network announced that it’s inked a deal to get $4-million in seed money from a group run by Buddy Roemer. With the funding comes an option that could double the take for TYT, with the whole thing being made through Roemer’s private equity fund, Roemer, Robinson, Melville & Co. Roemer himself is a pretty staunch conservative, despite having been a Democrat for many years and a late-career decision to try running for president as a member of both the Reform and Americans Elect party. In addition to his retrograde views on abortion and gay marriage, he also supported Arizona’s draconian crackdown on undocumented immigrants, is pro-torture, and is for the repeal of the ACA, saying that it amounts to government interference in healthcare. In other words, the guy is the furthest thing from a liberal.
But as we know, a large-scale political bent isn’t as important or desirable as it used to be. These days it’s entirely possible to get away with treating politics like you do everything else: as something that can be split apart and consumed à la carte and on-demand. Pick which issue is most important to you, your personal sine qua non, and ignore everything else. Think drones and kill lists are the most pressing problem facing America right now? Congratulations, you can apparently #StandWithRand and still be taken seriously as a liberal, even though he’s kind of a racist asshole. Think NSA spying matters more than anything else in the whole world? Hey, Glenn Greenwald has figured out a way to overcome the cognitive dissonance that should plague you if you choose to align yourself with otherwise repugnant creatures who happen to be anti-surveillance.
Cenk Uygur has shown over the past couple of years that he falls very nicely into this very exclusive category — a kind of category of one, where your individual or at the very least niche concerns are above all else and allegiances with just about anyone are possible. Uygur’s pet issue is campaign finance reform; he believes that money should be removed from politics as much as possible, and as it turns out that’s the one thing he and Buddy Roemer seem to agree on. Roemer, to his credit, slammed PACs and lobbyists when he ran for president in 2012, but the question remains whether that one good point about him makes up for all the other really lousy ones. Uygur sure seems to think so. No doubt a truckload of money helped ease any reservations he might have had about an alliance with Roemer.
Buddy Roemer is by no means a bad person, but he holds an entire slew of beliefs that should be deal-breakers in the eyes of someone who proclaims himself to be a liberal. Or, in Uygur’s case, someone who proclaims himself to be a better liberal than you. Uygur spends so much time arrogantly haranguing people who dare to disagree with him from the left that his willingness to be Buddy Roemer’s bitch carries with it a tasty amount of schadenfreude. Granted, 4-mil is 4-mil, but it’s going to be interesting the next time he tries to hold somebody to the progressive standard he piously claims to represent.
Then again, what Roemer himself said about the deal with the Young Turks speaks volumes about what we can continue to expect: “They are a lot like me, sometimes wrong but never in doubt.” Tell me you’ve ever heard a more perfect description of Cenk.
Chez Pazienza was the beating heart of The Daily Banter, sadly passing away on February 25, 2017. His voice remains ever present at the Banter, and his influence as powerful as ever.