The media blackout surrounding Andrew Yang

“The opposite of Donald Trump is an Asian man that likes math,” says Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang at his rallies. Yang, a 44-year-old tech entrepreneur and founder of the nonprofit Venture For America, has attracted a flurry of spirited supporters called the “Yang Gang.” His flagship policy is the Freedom Dividend, a version of universal basic income (UBI), where every American over the age of 18 would receive $1,000 a month from the U.S. government, no questions asked. Yang, openly embracing his Asian-American heritage, has even turned “MATH,” into a rallying cry, an acronym for “Make America Think Harder.” His fans also wear blue baseball hats with “Math” on them, similar to President Trump’s signature “Make America Great Again” hats. Despite being a political outsider, Yang’s campaign continues to grow. However, just a mere glance at Yang’s Twitter reveals a horde of angry fans that believe there is an intense media bias against him. Although this may seem reminiscent of Trump’s desperate claims of “fake news,” further investigation reveals a lengthy media blackout surrounding Yang. 

Allegations of media bias against Yang initially manifested after the first Democratic debate. Yang, a political outsider, was ecstatic to make his first impression on millions of Americans. He often joked that a win would entail Americans googling “who’s the Asian man standing next to Joe Biden?” Yang did not get his wish, ultimately standing beside Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Governor John Hickenlooper. This is not where the controversy begins, though. Out of a two-hour debate, Yang spoke a measly 3 minutes, the least of any candidate. This was far from the debut from the Yang Gang was anticipating and he attributed his small amount of speaking time in the first Democratic debate to his microphone being turned off. Reflecting on his subpar performance, Yang tweeted, “I feel bad for those who tuned in to see and support me that I didn’t get more airtime. Will do better (my mic being off unless called on didn’t help) and glad to have another opportunity in July (and afterwards)!” Rightfully so, his fans were furious and flooded Twitter, starting the hashtag #LetYangSpeak and creating YouTube videos that supposedly showed that Yang’s microphone was muted. Fellow Democratic presidential candidate and spiritual advisor Marianne Williamson even made similar allegations on Twitter, stating that her microphone was off as well. Despite these accusations, NBC denied any wrongdoing. In the second debate, Yang still received the least amount of speaking time. Out of a  two and a half hours debate, Yang spoke for less than nine minutes, a stark contrast to Joe Biden’s twenty-one minutes. The trend continued in the third debate as well, where Yang received less than eight minutes. What’s most damming this time was that Yang was already polling nationally at 6th place by this debate

The media bias exceeds the debate stage. Yang has repeatedly been shown to garner some of the least amounts of media coverage, and when Yang is covered by the media, they often forget to check the quality of their content. One of the most infamous cases was when MSNBC mistakenly misidentified him as “John Yang.” The Yang Gang has also noticed that the media’s constant exclusion of Yang in polling and fundraising graphics, starting the #YangMediaBlackout. In another case, the media suddenly took notice of Yang when he chose to not wear a tie in the debates, leading commentator Brian Williams to even ask, “Would it kill you to throw on a tie?” on air. It’s clear that his fans are outraged, but there’s legitimacy to their claims, especially when it is so blatantly obvious in some cases. In another cringe-worthy example, NBC excluded Yang’s name from a promotional video for the September debates. Yang even took to his Twitter to express his disdain, going as far as to say, “Sometimes honest mistakes happen. But NBC and MSNBC seem to omit me on the regular.” 

Andrew Yang expresses his frustration on Twitter over the exclusion of his name in a promotional video released by NBC. 

Andrew Yang tweets about NBC and MSNBC’s pattern of excluding him from their media coverage.

Andrew Yang tweets about how MSNBC misidentified him as “John Yang.”

However, the tide seems to be turning in Yang’s favor. Recently, Yang has been making more appearances on television, appearing on The Rachel Maddow Show, CNN Tonight with Don Lemon, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, and even twice on The View, where Whoopi Goldberg has publically praised Yang’s Freedom Dividend. Yang sure seems to have caught America’s eyes as he now polling at 4th place nationally, and has even surpassed Senator Kamala Harris in her home state of California. Yang also recently announced that he raised $10 million in the third quarter, beating Senator Cory Booker ($6 million) as well as Senator Amy Klobuchar ($4.8 million). Although, this “Yangmentun” as Yang’s followers call it, is long overdue, it just might be the underdog story that Yang needs to secure the Democratic presidential nomination. 

In a recent Emerson national poll from September 21-23, Andrew Yang polled at 4th place.

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