- Teresa Kroeger/Getty Images for The Young Turks
- Two hosts at the Young Turks mulled separate bids to challenge Sen. Dianne Feinstein, but eventually backed out. The Justice Democrats plan to back another challenger to Feinstein.
High-profile hosts at the left-leaning website the Young Turks are throwing their weight behind a progressive challenger to California Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Thursday.
But for a brief moment over the past few weeks, several hosts at the outlet almost became the challenger themselves.
Over the past month, two video personalities at the proudly left-leaning video news outlet toyed with the idea of challenging Feinstein, the 84-year-old Democratic senator running for reelection in 2018 who has provoked ire among some California Democrats for her occasional centrist tendencies.
“I don’t think that a standard politician was the way to go, so we were thinking outside the box,” TYT founder Cenk Uygur told Business Insider in an interview Tuesday evening. “That led us down a lot of avenues.”
One of those avenues, Uygur acknowledged, was challenging Feinstein himself.
“I seriously considered it,” he said. “I didn’t want to be a senator, but I considered it anyway.”
Uygur began mulling a bid after host Ana Kasparian decided to forgo a run in early October (Kasparian and TYT did not respond to request for comment about why she backed out).
Both hosts – who are based in southern California – were unsatisfied with Feinstein and a recently announced challenger, California state senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon, whom they believe is too soft on the financial industry. They thought TYT’s popularity among a relatively select, yet fervent base could make them unlikely insurgent challengers to both candidates.
Uygur told Business Insider he was “tired of asking politicians to be progressive,” saying that he was not pleased by de Leon’s pledge to focus much of his campaign on Trump, saying he wished he’d focus more on progressive politics.
“I don’t need the crumbs off your table,” Uygur said. “It didn’t sound like he was running to win.”
Fringe media outlets are now taking a more active role in politics
The potential bids sparked interest among some staffers, several of whom told Business Insider on the condition of anonymity they learned about both Uygur and Kasparian’s potential bids through press reports.
Several senior TYT employees told Business Insider they were unaware of anyone in the organization’s desire to run, and indicated that the planning for a bid was among a small cohort. One employee said they were slightly uneasy with potential conflicts of interest if either candidate had run.
Media outlets on the ideological fringes have attempted to take a more active role in shaping politics following the 2016 election.
Breitbart News chief Steve Bannon has promised to back primary challengers to numerous Republican senators, directing Breitbart to go after candidates not seen as sufficiently ideologically pure. The outlet claimed victory in the Alabama Republican senate primary when its preferred candidate, former Alabama state supreme court chief justice Roy Moore, defeated incumbent Sen. Luther Strange.
Following the 2016 election, Uygur launched the Justice Democrats, a group founded with veterans of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign dedicated to challenging from the left Democrats whom the group has deemed “corporate Democrats.”
But while neither TYT host will jump into the race, the Justice Democrats and Uygur plan on backing another candidate, whom the outlet plans to announce on one of TYT’s news shows on Thursday.
“We are very excited to defeat Dianne Feinstein,” Uygur said. “We’ve considered a lot of things, and at the end of the day we picked what we think is a perfect candidate.”
For her part, Feinstein has attempted to dismiss her challenger from the left.
“Anybody can run,” Feinstein replied when asked about de Leon’s entry into the race last month. “All I can do is run on my record, which I’m proud to do and I think have substantial support in the state and I think I’ve shown – I have a lot of support so we’ll see what happens.”