The Young Turks to DNC: We Want to Host a Debate

The Young Turks has called out the Democratic National Committee, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders.

Channel founder Cenk Uygar said that The Young Turks want to host a debate between Democratic presidential candidates after a petition asking the YouTube channel, the DNC, and the candidates to commit to an online debate garnered more than 35,000 signatures in its first two days.

The Young Turks co-founder Cenk Uygar responded to the petition during the March 25 show:

“Well, we accept. Now on to Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and the DNC. Let’s get a debate on The Young Turks that would be completely different than any of the debates they’ve ever had before. It would be a fresh, new perspective and you guys can help make that happen.”

Since the video was published, it’s been viewed more than 245,000 times. Signatures on the petition have surpassed 139,000, an increase of 297% in the last two weeks.

People from all 50 states have signed the petition. The five states that account for the most signatures — California (14%), New York (7%), Texas (6%), Florida (5%), and Illinois (4%) — are also the most populous. Only California and New York have yet to hold their primaries.

Saad Qidwai of Scottsdale, Arizona started the petition because he wanted to see a debate on “a media outlet NOT INFLUENCED by Corporate Money.”

“We want to see a debate where Sanders and Clinton can be properly questioned about policy with appropriate follow-ups,” Qidwai wrote. “The Young Turks have a huge outreach online and it would be a great opportunity to discuss in depth issues that are important for the DNC and for the whole nation.”

By Uygar’s own account, The Young Turks YouTube channel had a reach of 67 million unique viewers in February and 170 million views overall. It is the most viewed News & Politics channel on YouTube, according to social data firm Social Blade.

“If we threw the weight of YouTube and we threw the weight of you guys behind it and we explain to everybody that this is a debate that the DNC has sanctioned between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, the viewers we would get online would be A) tremendous, and B) completely new viewers that didn’t normally get to see Democrats,” said Uygar in the video.

A Democratic debate broadcast solely from a YouTube channel would be the first of its kind. While debates are usually streamed over YouTube, until now they have always been aired by broadcast or cable networks.

He notes that the DNC has schedule 1,000 debates and town halls on establishment “old” media — channels like CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News — where the average age of viewers is somewhere in the 60s. Conversely, 75% of The Young Turks viewers are under the age of 35.

“If Democrats are wondering how they reach Millennials, if you keep going on TV and reach 65-year-olds, you will never reach the 35-and-unders,” Uygar said. “There’s an easy way to reach them. Here.”

While much of Uygar’s argument for The Young Turks debate is aimed at the concerns of the DNC — reaching Millennials and finding new and large audiences chief among them — comments on the petition show that people are preoccupied with the influence of corporate money on traditional media and the fairness of debates hosted by them.    

Check out Change Politics to learn more about the candidates so you can make an informed decision on election day.  

Campaigns about presidential debates are popular on

A petition asking the Presidential Commission on Debates to consider Jon Stewart as a moderator went viral last year; it currently stands at more than 340,000 signatures.

And during the 2012 election, three high school students started a petition asking for a woman to moderate a presidential debate, which hadn’t happened since 1992. After more than 180,000 signatures the Commission on Presidential Debates announced that Candy Crowley would moderate the second presidential debate.

The staggering number of supporters behind these campaigns and The Young Turks campaign show not only how much the electorate values fair and informative debate, but also how it feels it can directly influence the election process.


Want to see a debate on The Young TurksLet the DNC know what you think.

Or would you like to see a debate hosted by someone else? 

Written by
Mallory A. Russell
April 12, 2016 7:16 pm