Justice Explained: TYT Plans a Liberal Tea Party

Cenk Uygur, founder of online news outlet TYT Network, is teaming with progressive talk radio host Kyle Kulinski and some former Bernie Sanders campaign execs to launch Justice Democrats — a Tea Party, of sorts, for the left.

Given that the Justice Democrats’ goal is to create a movement that elects its own brand of Democratic candidates supporting its various planks — net neutrality is one — and given that it’s billed as having the backing of the TYT Network, a news outlet claiming 173 million views per month, The Wire wondered whether that media backing was playing into the hands of a president claiming (in a Captain Queeg-like way) that the media are conspiring against him and undercounting his crowds.

Strawberries, anyone?

So, we asked Uygur what TYT’s role would be.

“TYT, as a network of 30 channels that includes news, sports and entertainment, is not taking any political position,” he told The Wire.

But as for its “flagship” show? “The Young Turks is clearly and strongly progressive,” he said. (Uygur and the other Turks’ growing, four-letter, anger during election-night coverage of Trump’s surprising victory was excerpted by gleeful Trump backers in various YouTube videos).

“Will we help a progressive wing of the Democratic Party? Of course,” he said. “We represent the voice of the outsiders, and that is what the Justice Democrats also represent.”

Is he concerned about the new movement actually helping Trump by disuniting the front against him? No. “I’m not afraid of splintering the Trump opposition because we’re not running in general elections, we’re running in Democratic primaries,” he said. “Primaries make candidates and parties stronger, not weaker. In terms of the ideological fight against Trump, the corporate Democrats are the ones splintering us if they don’t want to implement our clearly progressive agenda. There is no unity behind a pro-donor position on the left.”

Warren Buffett: Helpful And Humble as Subject Of HBO Profile Doc

Warren Buffett, billionaire and (late in life) philanthropist, sounds like a documentarian’s dream profile subject, at least in terms of helpfulness.

Peter Kunhardt, who directed Becoming Warren Buffett, the upcoming HBO documentary film about the oracle of Omaha, told attendees at a Jan. 11 screening that Buffett told the filmmakers, “Whatever you feel will make the best film, I’ll just follow your lead.”

Later, after viewing the doc, Buffett was a model critic. “He picked up one typo, which was his only comment. … When you list the total revenue of Berkshire Hathaway, you are missing three zeroes.” As in, you said $210 million instead of $210 billion.

“That was the last change we made, we brought the film back in and added three zeroes to the screen,” Kunhardt, who made the film with his sons Teddy and George as producers, said at the HBO showing, where the three Kunhardts also took questions.

One question: why there wasn’t much about politics in the film, when Buffett was so outspoken in disagreements with Donald Trump. Answer: The film was conceived more than two years ago, before Trump got into the presidential race, and isn’t about politics.

Also, “at age 86, we felt that we couldn’t wait too much longer” to get the film done, the director said. “He said he’s salvage value already. But his mind, as Teddy said, was so fast. … I’ve never experienced as fast a thinker as I did sitting across from Warren.”

Becoming Warren Buffett — a charming, close-up view of the billionaire who drives himself to work on the 5-minute route, buying breakfast at the McDonald’s drive-through — premieres tonight (Jan. 30) at 10 p.m.

— Kent Gibbons

TCA Notebook: ‘Six’ Gives ’Em 15; Gus Fring Redux

PASADENA, Calif. — The book is officially closed on cable networks’ portion of the 2017 Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour. The two-day confab had several memorable moments that will most likely linger long with the more than 200 TV critics in attendance, though — at least until the Summer TCA press tour in July.

• After wrestling questions from the assembled TV critics during History’s presentation of the network’s new military drama Six, the seven cast members and executives representing the show on stage promptly dropped to the floor and together pressed forward, doing 15 pushups. Six actress Nondumiso Tembe joined series actors Barry Sloane, Kyle Schmid, Juan Pablo Raba and Edwin Hodge, as well as executive producers William and David Broyles in the impromptu exercise demo for the series, which focuses on Navy SEALs (like the ones on SEAL Team 6) who travel abroad to rescue one of their own captured behind enemy lines.

• Few things can move TCA members from their entrenched positions within Pasadena’s Lanham Huntington ballroom, but Animal Planet found the right bone to lure them out in a bushel of cute and cuddly puppies that it put on display outside the ballroom to promote its Feb. 5 Puppy Bowl XIII special. The network constructed a mini football stadium for the puppies to run amok while writers eagerly took pictures with the animals. (For more on Animal Planet, see Content)

• When AMC’s Breaking Bad prequel series Better Call Saul launched in 2015, speculation almost immediately began as to when key characters from the iconic earlier series would end up on the Bob Odenkirk-starrer. Prior to its Better Call Saul presentation, AMC cooked up a surprise revelation that fried chicken entrepreneur and drug lord Gus Fring — played by Giancarlo Esposito — would be joining Saul in its upcoming (April 10) third season. To celebrate Fring’s addition to the cast, TCA writers were treated to an impromptu fried chicken meal, compliments of Los Pollos Hermanos restaurant, the chicken establishment front for Fring’s drug activities.

“Anyone hungry?” Esposito asked those in the ballroom. “We have some chicken for you. The best chicken in the world.”

— R. Thomas Umstead

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.