There are a number of independent, progressive YouTube channels that I subscribe to who offer fair, objective and fact-based political news and commentary that offers far more value than almost anybody else and won’t distort your entire worldview with toxic ideas.
I’m a total nerd when it comes to consuming news. I constantly have podcasts and YouTube videos playing in the background when I’m working and even working out, and I probably watch YouTube political punditry in the way most millennials watch Netflix. However, it can take years to figure out which independent media personalities and brands you can trust to deliver objective news that aligns with your political values. As a progressive, these are the YouTube channels that I find to be trustworthy and well produced.
The staple for every progressive’s media diet, the Majority Report with Sam Seder is packed to the brim with a ridiculously smart crew, made up of personalities that you actually just want to be friends with.
Sam Seder originally a comedian and actor/writer in the film industry. He became a co-host of the Air America radio show in 2004, which has since migrated to YouTube. Sam is perhaps one of the best debators you will come across anywhere and welcomes libertarians to call directly into the show – with no screening process – and his take-downs are epic. The show is also rather funny and witty, with a “fun half” of the show following their coverage of the daily news. Their take-downs of conservative doofus, Dave Rubin, are among the funniest things you’ll see in your life.
However, the real star of the show was the late Michael Brooks, whose career also began his career in comedy, as well as meditation. He was an incredible intellectual (and brought me back to the from a time in my life where I was conservative), with socialist values, which are shared by a fairly large crew who chime in frequently with some insightful perspectives. After Michael tragically passed away last year, his position in the team has since been filled by Emma Vigeland, formerly of The Young Turks, who is one of the rising stars in independent journalism.
Honestly, it’s not my favourite show, but TYT is the gold standard for progressive news and opinion shows. Starting as a radio program in 2002, TYT was also carried by Air America before moving to YouTube way back in 2005. Co-founder and co-host, Cenk Uygur was originally and MSNBC anchor but left them because they didn’t like his aggressive, truth-to-power punditry which we get to see fairly frequently.
He’s also very involved with a lot of political work, including being a co-founder of the Justice Democrats movement, which seeks to remove money from politics and provides support for political candidates that run campaigns on small dollar donations only like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and “the squad” who are slowly but surely starting to pack the House of Representatives.
The show’s co-host, Ana Kasparian, who started her career as an producer on CBS radio news stations and has been with the show since 2008 is, very much like Uygur, also rather emotional in her delivery which can be great to watch, especially when they are presenting their frustrations with facts.
But what really separates TYT is the production value (which Uygur and Kasparian play active roles in as well). The seamless presentation and well researched positions can be flawless at times, even if the charged conversations on the show can be somewhat off-putting. The show is also often packed with a revolving door of guest hosts who offer similarly insightful commentary. What I really like about TYT is how they package their content to fit an entire news cycle into a three hour show, of which the first hour is free to access on YouTube and other podcasting/streaming platforms.
Kyle Kulinski is probably my favourite personality on the entire list. Secular Talk is a very raw talk show that is incredibly relatable and Kulinksi does a great job carrying the entire show on his own.
The channel was created way back in 2008 and evolved “from being a personal space to share ideas to a progressive talk show” and then began featuring on BlogTalkRadio in 2012 as “The Kyle Kulinski show”, while the Secular Talk‘s YouTube Channel’s audience grew to more than 950,000 subscribers. He’s also a co-founder of the aforementioned Justice Democrats. And, honestly, I don’t know who helps him produce Secular Talk, but I get the idea that it’s a one-man operation and the fact that he’s managed to pull that off shows how remarkable he is.
Kyle describes his political views as “populist” and “social democrat” and his rhetoric truly reflects it. His predictions are almost always accurate and he provides incredible insights into the real issues without sounding like an out-of-touch intellectual.
The Hill’s Rising with Krystal & Saagar (or simply Rising) is hosted in Washington DC, right up close and personal with the political environment in the US. Krystal Ball who previously worked for MSNBC and contributed to HuffPost, and currently hosts a progressive podcast with Kyle Kulinski, called Krystal, Kyle & Friends. She’s a progressive star who has also been seen on Fox News, CNN and Real Time with Bill Maher.
Saagar is an anomaly on this list in that he’s a conservative personality. His politics are very much grounded in free market politics, but he’s a populist as well, so he offers some really important insight from a different perspective that I often find myself agreeing with.
The show is also phenomenally produced and broken up into clear segments, including Krystal and Saagar having their individual monologues, their daily “radar”, where they break down key issues from the daily news cycle and put stories into perspective with well-researched and thought out positions from both the left and the right.
Pakman began hosting a local radio show “as a hobby” in 2005 and by 2011 was airing on 100 stations and outlets. His show is quite similar to The Majority Report, mixed with a single-host, Secular Talk kind of format, with monologues. He also has a phone line and an open invitation to allied and antagonistic listeners, and manages to debate with a similar aplomb to Sam Seder. A smart, logical guy, Pakman is kind of white bread boring, but still very informative with his punditry, and worth a listen.
OK, OK, I’m cheating here. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver is an HBO production and about as mainstream as it gets. But still, it is one of the best progressive YouTube channels whose hilarious takes on any number of important political issues are totally unmatched. In terms of satire and informative monologues, nobody, not Trevor Noah, Stephen Colbert, Bill Maher or any of the so-called leftists on mainstream television, compares to John Oliver. I’ve watched several of his weekly monologues many times over because they’re timeless.
A friend of the Essential Millennial, Jimmy Ramokgopa, has a very new channel that’s barely a month old, but to add a bit of South African flavour to this list of all-American progressive YouTube channels. Jimmy is actually a civil engineer by profession but his content began as a personal space, like Kyle Kulinski’s did, when he launched The Reset. However, Jimmy’s been releasing political content lately with his new feature The Recap.
One of the frustrating things about being a South African progressive is that we have no representation in independent media whatsoever. Rather, conservatives like Jerm, Roman Cabanac and Renaldo Gouws have a monopoly over the landscape. Jimmy’s YouTube channel, albeit not overtly “progressive” and his views seeming somewhat more centrist (although I’ll let him clarify this), is the answer to the lack of progressive representation in the media environment.
His one-man operation is looking very promising in many ways and his production is on point, albeit somewhat bare-bones at this stage. I can definitely see him gathering some serious momentum and becoming a leading political pundit and I suggest you subscribe and follow Jimmy on Twitter for fair coverage of the weekly news.
Hopefully you enjoyed this list and manage to pick out a progressive YouTube channel (or a few channels) that can help you stay informed on the most important issues.