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Asian American Policy Review

Topic / Politics

Random Man Runs for President: Andrew Yang and the Media

When the media never fully determined how to cover the first Asian-American Democrat running for president nationally, it created a plethora of challenges for Andrew Yang’s historic campaign. Despite receiving disproportionate obstacles for a candidate of his polling level, Yang resiliently left a legacy that shaped national discourse on policy and empowered other Asian-Americans to run for office.


Emerging in a historically crowded field of Democratic contenders for the presidential nomination, the first Asian-American Democratic candidate to run for president in all 50 states went largely unnoticed for more than a year after announcing his campaign in February of 2018 and filing with the Federal Election Commission in November of 2017.[i] That is, in the few places he was acknowledged in the early days, entrepreneur Andrew Yang was portrayed as a robot-fearing, alarmist, fringe candidate with a gimmicky futuristic agenda promising free, no-strings-attached money to Americans[ii] of $1,000 per month, no less. Few media outlets reported on what made Yang inherently different from the rest of the field: he was a trailblazer for Asian-Americans seeking national office. What could have been a unique, inspiring story about the first Asian-American Democratic candidate running on a national scale bringing fresh ideas to a crowded primary was entirely lost and replaced with a distracting narrative of “random man runs for president,” as a Washington Post headline described it.[iii] Ignored, forgotten, and handed an unusually abundant combination of irregular obstacles that the majority of other candidates running for president of the United States did not face in the 2020 cycle, impacting his chances of gaining name recognition across the nation and winning, Yang managed to introduce certain ideas to mainstream discourse and successfully build a loyal coalition of ideologically and demographically diverse voters through his platform with over 150 policies addressing some of America’s greatest issues and promoting a premise of Making America Think Harder (MATH). For its history-making and agenda-setting nature in terms of platform and identity, the Yang 2020 campaign was much more important than what people thought and what the media reported; only after he suspended his presidential campaign were Yang’s contributions to America’s national discourse acknowledged and supported.

Yang’s historic run as the first Asian-American Democratic presidential candidate to run a national campaign was largely buried either in unfavorable news coverage or none at all due to accidental and intentional omissions. This is not to say that it was entirely glossed over, but it did not break the mainstream media cycle as have other history-making campaigns in the past. For example, some of the first instances of Yang being introduced to the world as the first Asian-American Democratic candidate running in all 50 states came five to seven months after his announcement of running and were published in local or international Asian outlets, such as NBC 10 Boston[iv] and the South China Morning Post.[v] One of the first missed opportunities of a news outlet not covering this story was when Merion West acknowledged Yang’s heritage and asked him about his identity, but framed it within the context of him being “an Asian-American who has attended two Ivy League institutions.”[vi] While this is not to discredit Yang’s impressive educational background, this type of framing misses the historic factor of Yang’s campaign, portrays him as a “model minority” Asian stereotype,[vii] and fails to acknowledge the importance of his Asian-American identity in the context of the election. Though it is important to note that Yang strategically and carefully made jokes playing upon his identity and Asian-American stereotypes throughout his campaign, such as stating he “knows a lot of doctors,”[viii] making “MATH” a hallmark of his campaign,[ix] and suggesting that the “opposite of Donald Trump is an Asian man who likes math,”[x] there is a great difference in Yang himself making these remarks and some media outlets subtly painting him an embodiment of these stereotypes. As Yang was falsely and frequently titled a “billionaire”[xi][xii][xiii] and/or a “former tech executive,”[xiv] the media evidently did not know how to cover Yang’s historic run and it rarely focused on what made it inherently unique. Importantly, in reality, Yang has a net worth of around $1 million[xv] and the only credible evidence of him being in the tech industry is when he “founded a failed tech startup”[xvi] prior to the bulk of his career as a nonprofit entrepreneur. The media’s lack of accuracy to further a narrative was often obvious and telling.

Beyond approximately two years of missed opportunities to tell the story of the first Asian-American Democrat running a national campaign seeking to become the president of the United States, the media also contributed to minimizing Yang’s presence and ideas through a series of irregular occurrences and barriers that most other candidates did not experience – especially candidates who polled the same or lower than Yang. This relative erasure in the media demeaned the significance of Yang’s historic run and hindered has chances of ever gaining mainstream national attention. In addition to receiving far fewer written news article mentions and cable news mentions as did candidates polling less than him and some polling near 0%,[xvii] numerous obstacles disproportionately affected Yang’s campaign narrative in the press. These obstacles were irregular to what other candidates experienced and took form in marginalizing Yang by the media displaying misleading data about the candidates,[xviii] omitting him from relevant news stories either entirely or by mischaracterizing some Yang-related aspect of the story,[xix] and having recurring issues at the Democratic debates that disproportionately affected Yang.[xx][xxi] By examining these three aforementioned types of disproportionate irregularities, the reality of the media not knowing how to properly cover or place Yang is abundantly apparent given his history-making campaign, various data-backed comparisons of the 2020 candidates, and the media coverage he actually received or lack thereof. He did not receive equitable or sufficient media coverage for his level of polling,[xxii][xxiii] consistently high net favorability,[xxiv] and his status as the first Asian-American Democrat to run for president on a national scale.


Yang’s Disproportionate Marginalization in the Media

The first major category of disproportionate irregularities that Yang’s campaign encountered were misleading data reports as shared in the media, primarily in broadcast news. One of the key ways this form of media marginalization manifested was in the favoring of lower polling candidates over Yang in data infographics such as those about polling numbers. For example, CNN aired an infographic on August 28, 2019 that was titled, “Top Choice for Dem. Nominee [among] Democrats/Democratic Leaners.”[xxv][xxvi] Showing the polling percentages of six candidates in descending order, the graphic presumably displayed the top six candidates in an August 21-26 Quinnipiac University poll since it did not state anything otherwise. Former Texas Representative Beto O’Rourke’s 1% polling was displayed on the image, logically indicating to viewers he was the sixth best polling candidate; in reality, Yang was polling at 3% in the same August 21-26 Quinnipiac University poll, yet for some reason CNN displayed O’Rourke’s lower percentage and overlooked Yang’s higher percentage. Another similar occurrence of misleading polling graphics was when MSNBC featured polling data for the Iowa Democratic caucus that featured “candidates such as Michael Bennet, who is polling at less than 1% in the state, but didn’t include Mr. Yang, who is polling at 2.6%.”[xxvii] In April of 2019, Yang was left off of a graphic aired on Joy Reid’s TV show and synchronously promoted on Twitter that showcased ten candidates’ polling numbers in descending order with Yang excluded and three candidates polling below him included.[xxviii] This type of media exclusion and favoring candidates not fairing as well as Yang occurred on air on October 19, 2019 when MSNBC displayed the top candidates’ cash on hand, except it spotlighted Senator Cory Booker’s $4.2 million as the sixth in line. If this graphic were made true to the top six candidates ordered by cash on hand, Yang would have been in that slot with his $6.4 million.[xxix]

Secondly, unlike the vast majority of the other candidates, especially those polling like he did, Yang experienced a plethora of omissions, mix-ups, and other forms of misleading or incorrect graphics. While the vast majority of other candidates did not experience a single instance of their name or face being forgotten by media outlets, especially candidates who polled like Yang, he experienced two major incidents with news channels seemingly forgetting who he is. The first major instance of this is when MSNBC reported that candidate “John Yang” crowd surfed on the campaign trail at an event for Asian-Americans in Costa Mesa, California.[xxx] The second major example of this confusion is when CNBC aired a photo of a different Asian man [xxxi] when publicizing the candidates’ comparative fundraising totals for Q4 in 2019.[xxxii][xxxiii] This graphic that wrongly depicted an Asian man who did not at all look like Yang also mistakenly had a headshot of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand as Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard’s photo; with this example, it is important to mention that Senator Gillibrand was a former 2020 Democratic primary contender and her photo ending up as Representative Gabbard’s may have been due to their last names being alphabetically close. Nonetheless, the man in Yang’s inaccurate photo was never a candidate for president,[xxxiv] but rather just another Asian man with the last name Yang.[xxxv] In a different instance involving being entirely not included in a graphic, NBC left Yang off of a promotional graphic for the Democratic debate showcasing “10 candidates on debate stage in September,”[xxxvi] yet only displayed nine candidates’ names with Yang’s name missing.[xxxvii] In a similar occurrence with MSNBC, the network displayed “the contenders”[xxxviii] of the Democratic primary but forgot to include Sanders and Yang’s photos with those of the other candidates; MSNBC failed to include Yang in a different graphic of all of the candidates in August too.[xxxix] Besides forgetting the candidate’s name, face, and existence in the race, Yang also experienced problems with graphics he was included in – such as when the New York Times edited Yang to appear physically shorter than he actually is in a photo with the other candidates.[xl] The same misleadingly altered promotional image featured what looked like Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s foot stepping on Yang’s foot due to the poster being produced by editing together individual photos of all of the candidates.

Finally, Yang experienced a combination of problems at the various Democratic debates that other candidates did not encounter to this extent. In an analysis by Business Insider Australia, they found that “Presidential contender Andrew Yang has had considerably low speaking times at Democratic debates compared to his strong polling.”[xli] Similarly described by Politico writer Eugene Daniels, Yang was “ahead of Sens. Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and billionaire activist Tom Steyer, who all spoke more than Yang.”[xlii] This is likely due to multiple factors including the candidate’s microphone being turned off unless called on in the first Democratic debate,[xliii] Yang being asked fewer questions, and Yang’s responses very rarely being the target of attack by other candidates. In the debate that Yang claims his microphone was off, for which some potential corroborating video evidence exists,[xliv] he spoke less than a quarter of the time than that of former Vice President Joe Biden with a mere two minutes and 58 seconds;[xlv] much of this speaking time total was due to Yang answering the “only one question focused on China” asked at the debate.[xlvi] This became a pattern of the only East Asian candidate on the stage being the go-to candidate to ask a debate question about China. According to Yang’s Twitter account on October 10, 2019, he had “been asked a China-related question in each of the last 3 debates.”[xlvii] Along with US military veteran Mayor Buttigieg, Yang received a “disproportionate number of questions”[xlviii] at the debates relating to China. Despite picking up momentum with each debate to the extent he “slightly overtook Pete Buttigieg in the 2020 Democratic primary net favorability rankings following the sixth debate”[xlix] in December 2019 and became the fourth most favorable candidate, Yang consistently received disproportionately low speaking time[l] and in the November 2020 Democratic candidate debate it took 32 minutes before Yang was asked his first question.[li][lii]

What these three main categories of irregularities Yang experienced with the media symbolize is both his unique combination of obstacles and also how many missed opportunities there were to tell the story of the first Asian-American Democrat running for president in all 50 states. A candidate who once joked that he was “the Asian Oprah”[liii] and repeatedly touted that the “opposite of Donald Trump is an Asian man who likes math,”[liv] Yang sometimes playfully and often seriously addressed his identity enough that more media outlets could have picked up on it. As it is, Asian-Americans have been found to “not be proportionally represented in the political sphere,”[lv][lvi] so telling this candidate’s story fully and thoroughly could have been informative, newsworthy, and inclusive.[lvii] Nonetheless, the media never fully decided how to cover Yang or how to treat him as a candidate. He experienced disproportionately low airtime, a unique combination of obstacles that nearly every other candidate did not. A November 23, 2019 tweet alluded to MSNBC not even allowing Yang to send surrogates to speak “as they do [for] other candidates.”[lviii] The answer as to “why” some of this may have been happening is described by BuzzFeed News Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith in his praiseworthy January 2020 op-ed about Yang’s campaign. Smith attributes the media ignoring or forgetting Yang to him not being an “establishment candidate — with political, business, or military credentials — who fits easily into the establishment media narratives.”[lix] In Yang’s accounts of why he thought he may be ignored, he would often bring up his Asian-American identity, especially when asked about being forgotten by media outlets; notably, prior to running for president, Yang never felt as though his “Asian-American identity was a roadblock.”[lx]

Pivoting to Unconventional Publicity and Media

Although his lack of mainstream media coverage certainly disadvantaged his ability to gain better momentum and name recognition, Yang was able to successfully pivot and gain attention through viral candid moments and nontraditional digital strategies.[lxi] Whether it was crowd surfing, being in an Electronic Dance Music (EDM) DJ’s video, [lxii] doing the “Cupid Shuffle” dance,[lxiii][lxiv] showing up at Indonesian rapper Rich Brian’s New York City concert,[lxv][lxvi][lxvii] photobombing WMUR’s post-debate news coverage,[lxviii] or simply not wearing a necktie to the Democratic debate,[lxix][lxx][lxxi][lxxii] it was in these moments Yang was able to attempt to write his own story and guide the media on who is Andrew Yang. Most notably, Yang got his arguable big break into the race with his frequently-cited appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience,[lxxiii][lxxiv] which is a podcast/long-form online talk show that garners millions of listeners per episode and has been consistently ranked amongst the top podcasts over the years.[lxxv][lxxvi][lxxvii] According to Rogan’s website,[lxxviii] Episode #1245 with Andrew Yang was the fourteenth most viewed episode of 2019, bringing in more than five million views. The extent to which this podcast appearance catapulted Yang into the public eye is best described by Vox’s Dylan Matthews: “With astonishing speed, a near-total unknown has climbed to the top ranks of the Democratic presidential primary.”[lxxix] Though the campaign previously struggled to raise money in the early days, on the day of the podcast’s release alone Yang’s campaign raised “a couple of hundred thousand dollars.”[lxxx] Yang’s game-changing appearance on Joe Rogan’s videotaped podcast program, which was dubbed an “unlikely political influencer” in the 2020 primary[lxxxi] due to its ability to put candidates Yang and Gabbard into the spotlight, was so impactful that in the aftermath some of the other more well-known candidates in the field attempted to have their turn on Rogan’s show too[lxxxii] – presumably seeking the same momentum boost that Yang received in February 2019.[lxxxiii] On Rogan’s Episode #1412, he revealed that frontrunners such as Vice President Biden, Mayor Buttigieg, and Senator Warren all requested to be on his show and that he denied their requests to speak with him.[lxxxiv] Yang’s campaign released a limited edition long sleeved gray shirt commemorating “where it all began,” which features a posterized print of Yang at the microphone in Rogan’s studio and the episode number.[lxxxv]

In addition to less conventional outlets like podcasts and often under-the-radar potentially viral moments, Yang differentiated himself from the majority of the candidates by personally crafting his own narrative – something the media continually failed to do, whether it may have been because of Yang being the first Asian-American Democratic candidate running for president on a national scale, a non-politician, or a candidate with statistically, comparatively high bipartisan/independent appeal.[lxxxvi] Whatever the reasons, the media did not seem to know how to cover him properly or sufficiently, so Yang got creative with his digital outreach and frequently held live-streams usually on Instagram, once powered through a multi-platform ten-hour long question and answer session,[lxxxvii][lxxxviii][lxxxix][xc][xci] appeared on the YouTube channel of a former felon and Trump supporter to understand the root causes of why people liked Trump in the 2016 election,[xcii] and often made an effort to directly interact with his supporters on Twitter. These actions alone were part of what made Yang a special candidate to many; he was interactive and very human. Picking up on the power of the candidate speaking directly to voters and being able to share endless video content voters would likely not receive from mainstream news stations, the campaign and its supporters shifted from their original effort to get people to “google Andrew Yang” and instead “YouTube Andrew Yang,” which allowed voters to see who Yang really was and allowed Yang to write his own narrative as a candidate. This change in call to action strategy was reflected in both official campaign messaging, as well as Yang Gang-run merchandise and campaign literature design hubs such as “YangPrints.”[xciii][xciv] As a now-deleted Reddit user pointed out in r/YangForPresidentHQ in September, telling people to “google Andrew Yang” forces them to sift through any potentially misleading articles that may be at the top of their screens.[xcv] By telling a voter to “YouTube Andrew Yang” they will see largely curated content that is published to inform people about who this candidate is. Yang’s official YouTube channel is saturated with content that accentuates his strengths and does not confine him to disproportionately low speaking times. His YouTube is a digital space that he could tell the world who he is – not have the media sway voters about who he is.

However, it is important to note that as powerful and innovative as the campaign’s online strategy may have become over the course of the two year campaign, the Yang Gang was very much responsible for furthering Yang’s message in their communities and beyond to millions of Americans. With volunteer-run YouTube channels like Nerds For Yang and Paget Kagy’s channel, supporters could amplify the candidate’s vision to greater audiences and also bring on guests that the media may not have on. For example, Nerds For Yang, the “first and oldest” Yang Gang YouTube channel created by Asian-American volunteer Tom Leung who was inspired both by Yang’s policies and Yang’s ability to “break the bamboo ceiling,”[xcvi] has spoken to and uploaded interviews with 2016 Trump supporter and truck driver turned Yang advocate Fred Ramey, Chinese-American rapper MC Jin, Evelyn Yang, the candidate himself, and others. Nerds For Yang has received over one million views total and was featured on The View. Leung’s channel is one of the many Yang Gang YouTube channels created to make the spaces and share the stories that the media did not or failed to tell. Similarly, The Zach And Matt Show,[xcvii] which is one of the largest Yang Gang channels and puts out content more regularly than Leung’s Nerds for Yang, has amassed a total of more than 16.5 million views since their creation a year ago.[xcviii] With Yang Gang, organizers, and staff urging voters to “YouTube Andrew Yang,” voters were able to make their own informed decisions about Yang based on a treasure trove of long-form videos, being able to see the many faces of the Yang Gang, hearing the stories of real-life supporters, and seeing the candidate speak for himself. On YouTube, voters could see the Asian-Americans empowered by Yang’s campaign, truckers taking time out of their busy days to talk about a presidential candidate seeking to hand out $1,000 per month, average Americans wearing navy blue caps that say “MATH,” and more. The media may have failed to properly portray the first Asian-American Democratic candidate running a national presidential campaign and may have failed to give him proportional coverage for his notable polling and fundraising numbers, but Yang’s vibrant grassroots movement fighting to put their candidate’s best foot forward in any ways possible spoke volumes and America noticed.[xcix][c][ci] Though there is no denying that the Yang Gang’s enthusiasm and loyalty did not win their candidate the election, they played a great role in making Yang’s legacy one that made Americans think harder, feel empowered, and become politically active.[cii]

Broad Ideological, Demographic Appeal of the Yang Gang

Despite being left off of graphics, speaking less at the debates, not being taken seriously for much of his campaign, and the media seemingly not knowing how to cover him, with the help of innovative digital strategies and the Yang Gang’s tireless support, Yang was able to reach actual voters and his subsequent legacy is one that empowered Asian-Americans to vote, switch parties, be politically active, and run for office. In response to his historic campaign, Asian-Americans across the country have been on record making remarks such as that they were “happy to see an Asian American man running for president”[ciii] and “I really wanted to find a Presidential candidate I felt would represent me … for young Asian people, just seeing it is important.”[civ] Close to Yang’s age, Cranston, Rhode Island’s Republican Mayor Allan Fung has emphasized the importance of representation and young people seeing an Asian-American candidate running for president.[cv] This inspired mindset has influenced Asian-American individuals to begin seeking political careers, such as California attorney David Kim who was motivated to run for congress on a platform of UBI and Medicare For All because of Andrew Yang’s campaign.[cvi] On the Moving Forward podcast, Kim said in an early interview that after falling down an internet “rabbit hole” learning about UBI he found Yang and he “saw Andrew and I was like, ‘Hey you’re one of my kind!’” Identifying with Yang, Kim followed Yang’s campaign and began learning more about UBI – one of the key policies fueling both of their campaigns. He ultimately began running for Congress in CA-34 in summer 2019, received enough votes to proceed to the general election run-off round, and eventually earned Yang’s endorsement in spring 2020.[cvii] Moreover, the Yang campaign inspired notable Asian people and celebrities to rally behind him – both politically active[cviii] and relatively apolitical individuals. Some celebrity endorsements included Asian-Americans such as actor Ken Jeong,[cix][cx] DJ Steve Aoki,[cxi] comedian Ronny Chieng,[cxii] actor Steve Yeun,[cxiii] YouTuber Ryan Higa,[cxiv] and comedian Tommy Chong.[cxv] Additionally, Marvel Studio’s first Asian lead, Chinese-Canadian actor Simu Liu,[cxvi] publicly supported Yang’s campaign even though he cannot vote in America.[cxvii] For many of Yang’s Asian endorsers and supporters, the candidate’s identity was a point of appeal and pride to join the Yang Gang.

Beyond its ability to mobilize, organize, and inspire Asian-Americans, Yang’s campaign had a similar impact on a broad coalition of individuals who valued putting humanity first.[cxviii] While this is not to say that the Yang Gang base was competitively large, which may have been partially due to the media’s narrative of Yang and his lack of coverage, with every time Yang received airtime like on a debate or he had a big moment that was televised his net favorability increased.[cxix] When the media gave America a glimpse of who the Asian man running for president was, the numbers reflected an uptick in interest and popularity, even if this did not directly translate to votes. Significantly, Yang’s coalition was statistically one of the most ideologically broad.[cxx] This was likely in part a result of his plethora of non-controversial policies written in succinct layman’s terms, likable personality, “signature self-deprecating humor,” and welcoming supporter base that embraced its quirks and love of both the candidate’s effort to use data and numbers in his solutions and his mission to “Make America Think Harder.”[cxxi] Besides his flagship Freedom Dividend, Yang had an overwhelming number of easy-to-follow, fact-based policies that sought to make Americans’ lives easier, such as “making taxes fun,” guaranteeing affordable childcare, putting basic banking options in rural post offices, ending veteran suicide, barring airlines from “abusing” customers physically and figuratively, creating a fund to encourage and protect local journalism, reducing wildfires, and proactively preventing flooding, which all may explain his broad appeal. With over 150 policies, most of which non-controversial due to their nature of seeking to put humanity forward, it is unsurprising that so many different kinds of Americans could find something to like in Yang’s campaign.[cxxii] According to a February 2020 Business Insider poll, Yang was the “favorite among voters who haven’t yet decided whether they’re voting Republican or Democrat.”[cxxiii] He was able to win support from people of all part of the political spectrum,[cxxiv] including receiving support from former supporters of Donald Trump[cxxv] and Bernie Sanders[cxxvi] and having “many” supporters who were “new to the political process, and had no party affiliation before supporting his campaign.”[cxxvii][cxxviii] His base, the Yang Gang, was known to be an outspoken, active, inclusive, and open-minded coalition of voters fighting to “Make America Think Harder,” and much of this stemmed from his ability to transcend party lines through unconventional strategies and policy while not having proportionately adequate media attention.

Yang’s Influence on National Discourse

Alongside inspiring Asian-Americans and people on both sides of the aisle to be more politically active or run for office themselves, Yang’s campaign also influenced the national discourse on guaranteed minimum income programs and the impacts of rapidly developing technology on the American workforce. While Yang received less media coverage than the candidates polling at his level and some even polling lower than him, sometimes due to accidental or misleading omissions, and when he did get media coverage it often missed the historic nature of his campaign and/or did not seriously weigh his more than 150 policy platform, Yang’s campaign ultimately and successfully guided nationwide conversations. When 76[cxxix] of these policies were finalized and published within a year of Yang’s campaign announcement, which was before many of the Democratic contenders even entered the race, Yang’s vision of a “human-centered capitalist”[cxxx] America with a Freedom Dividend,[cxxxi] Democracy Dollars, and Medicare For All were viewed as wishful thinking or simply an undeniably different platform than the others.[cxxxii] With headlines portraying Yang as a robot-fearing alarmist saving America from machines[cxxxiii][cxxxiv][cxxxv] or a “random man running for president,”[cxxxvi] his policies initially discussed in his book The War On Normal People[cxxxvii] of putting money back into the hands of individuals and easing America’s transition into the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”[cxxxviii] of automation and AI were not taken seriously.[cxxxix] In fact, these same ideas that journalists and other candidates found to be “moonshots” at first,[cxl] such as Yang’s signature Freedom Dividend and plans to regulate the transition into a society of increased AI and automation, over time became concepts that some of the other candidates began adopting in the primary,[cxli] elected officials began passing similar bills around Congress and state house floors,[cxlii][cxliii] and bipartisan[cxliv][cxlv][cxlvi] national conversations about UBI were sparked during the COVID-19 pandemic.[cxlvii][cxlviii][cxlix][cl][cli] Data also shows that between February 2018 and September 2019 Democratic support for UBI “jumped from 54% to 66%,” which “loosely mirrors Mr. Yang’s ascent to the public stage.”[clii] Furthermore, following his campaign’s February 2020 suspension, Yang was offered an on air political news commentator spot on CNN to bring his unique perspective to panelist discussions.[cliii] What this symbolizes is that despite the lacking press coverage of this unknown[cliv] Asian-American man running for president and his “longer-than-long-shot bid for the White House,”[clv] with time and with more objective, mainstream reporting of the ideas that were the hallmarks of his “wild”[clvi][clvii] campaign they seemed to be the ones that would impact America’s discourse and trajectory.


Even though Yang’s campaign experienced an unusual combination of irregularities and he did not receive the media attention of the candidates polling the same and sometimes lower than him, he proved that in the most crowded Democratic primary in history, the first competitive Asian-American presidential candidate would not be forgotten and would leave an influential legacy despite less than ideal circumstances. Yang may not have won the primary, but it is evident he is not going anywhere and finally America has “Let Yang speak,” as the Yang Gang would say.[clviii] He went from being marginalized by the media to becoming part of the media as a CNN commentator. The Yang 2020 campaign’s influence has paved the way and provided inspiration for political outsiders, political newcomers, and, most importantly, the most rapidly growing American demographic that has been severely ignored and underrepresented in politics: Asian-Americans.[clix][clx][clxi] He successfully mobilized Asian-American voters, including independents and Republicans, often because they “saw something of [themselves] in Mr. Yang.”[clxii] In his own words, while being self-aware that the term “Asian-American” is far too broad and diverse for him to be a sole representative, Yang mentioned the excitement of Asian-Americans who identified with him when meeting him on the campaign trail and that it has given him “a lot of joy and pride to think about an Asian child turning on the Democratic debate and seeing me up on that stage. And hopefully, it gives them a sense that we’re just as American as anyone else.”[clxiii]

Despite being initially ignored by mainstream news outlets, getting his photo replaced by another Asian man named Yang, having his first name mixed up with another traditionally common American man’s name (“John”), receiving a disproportionately high number of Democratic debate questions about China, being left off of promotional graphics with all of the other candidates on it, going largely unnoticed as a candidate for significant time after his announcement, having lower polling candidates be favored over him by the media, and so on, Yang and his campaign went great lengths to be unfazed and succeed in “shocking the world.”[clxiv][clxv] Certainly, “the story of Mr. Yang’s long-shot campaign is one of unexpected success” on the basis of outlasting numerous governors, senators, and mayors alone.[clxvi] What makes this even more remarkable is that the media failed to properly cover Yang as a non-politician and the first Asian American Democrat running for president in all 50 states, yet he managed to set the tone of national discourse, inspire Asian-Americans to run for public office and be politically active, create one of the broadest ideological coalitions of the 2020 primary contenders, and outlast so many established political figures. This is the story major networks failed to report sufficiently, and as proven in the days and months following his campaign’s suspension, they were well aware of who he was, what he was doing, what his name is, what he looks like, and what positive impact his historic movement was having on Americans; they did not report it until he ended his bid for president.


[i] Hunter Schwarz, “Here’s how 2020 Democrats announced their campaigns,” CNN, February 13, 2019,

[ii] Kevin Roose, “His 2020 Campaign Message: The Robots Are Coming,” The New York Times, February 10, 2018,

[iii] Maureen O’Connor, “Random Man Runs for President,” Washington Post, June 10, 2019,

[iv] Jonathan Choe, “1st Asian American Dem to Announce 2020 Run Holds Boston Fundraiser,” NBC 10 Boston, June 11, 2018,

[v] Sarah Zheng, “‘Robots are the main threat to jobs’ – why this long-shot bid to become the first Asian-American president is raging against the machine,” South China Morning Post, September 11, 2018.

[vi] Henri Mattila, “Interview with Andrew Yang, 2020 Presidential Candidate,” Merion West, May 9, 2018,

[vii] Sarah-Soonling Blackburn, “What Is the Model Minority Myth?” Teaching Tolerance, March 21, 2019,

[viii] Jordan Culver, “Andrew Yang on healthcare during the Democratic Debate: ‘I’m Asian, so I know a lot of doctors,’” USA Today, September 12, 2019,

[ix] Nicholas Thompson, “Andrew Yang Is Not Full of Shit,” Wired Magazine, November 5, 2019,

[x] John Bowden, “Yang: I’m the opposite of Trump, an ‘Asian man who likes math,’” The Hill, July 31, 2019,

[xi] Dennis Romero, “On ‘SNL’ Trump orders no quid pro quo, only ‘two large pies,’” NBC News, November 24, 2019,

[xii] Fox News on Facebook, February 8, 2020,

[xiii] “EDITORIAL: The sky’s the limit on Democratic freebies,” Las Vegas Review-Journal, August 23, 2019,

[xiv] Vanessa Johnston & Kevin Fogarty, “How a New Hampshire family spent Andrew Yang’s ‘Freedom Dividend,’” Reuters, February 10, 2020,

[xv] Chase Peterson-Withorn, “Andrew Yang Is Not Nearly As Rich As You’d Think,” Forbes, November 19, 2019,

[xvi] Kendall Karson, et al. “Andrew Yang: Everything you need to know about the 2020 presidential candidate,” ABC News, February 11, 2020,

[xvii] Sara Fischer, “Yang gets media cold shoulder,” Axios, September 3, 2019,

[xviii] Jin Hyun, “7 Times Mainstream Media Snubbed Andrew Yang,” Nextshark, October 30, 2019,

[xix] Scott Santens, “A Visual History of the #YangMediaBlackout,” Vocal Media, last updated February 12, 2020,

[xx] “Democratic presidential primary debate (March 15, 2020),” Ballotpedia,,_2020). Note: Article happens to be from March, but has an up-to-date infographic as of April 2020.

[xxi] Andrew Buncombe, “Democratic debate: Andrew Yang ‘ignored’ for more than 30 minutes before being asked a question,” The Independent UK, November 20, 2019,

[xxii] Joseph Wulfsohn, “Yang campaign rips MSNBC’s apology after network snubbed him from polling graphic ‘for the 15th time,’” Fox News, November 18, 2019,

[xxiii] Grace Panetta, “Andrew Yang’s campaign says CNN corrected a chyron that excluded Yang in favor of a lower-polling candidate,” Business Insider, August 29, 2019,

[xxiv] Jared Newman, “Andrew Yang got a bigger favorability bump than any other 2020 Democrat after the December debate,” Fast Company, December 24, 2019,

[xxv] Brian Niemietz, “‘Yang Gang’ is upset that a CNN graphic showing DNC 2020 presidential hopefuls ignored Andrew Yang — again,” New York Daily News, August 8, 2019,

[xxvi] Emily Stewart, “How a CNN graphic sparked the #YangMediaBlackout controversy online,” Vox, August 30, 2019,

[xxvii] Jessica Chasmar, “MSNBC apologizes after forgetting Andrew Yang — again,” Washington Times, November 18, 2019,

[xxviii] Stephanie Dube Dwilson, “Here Are the Times Andrew Yang Was Left Off MSNBC Coverage & Graphics,” Heavy, December 19, 2019,

[xxix] Aaron Blake, “What we learned from the 2020 Democrats’ fundraising reports,” The Washington Post, October 16, 2019,

[xxx] Kimberly Yam, “MSNBC Misidentifies Andrew Yang As ‘John Yang,’” Huffington Post, September 10, 2019,

[xxxi] Spencer Neale, “’I am NOT running for President’: CNBC confuses Andrew Yang with Asian businessman Geoff Yang,” Washington Examiner, January 6, 2020,

[xxxii] Stephen Proctor, “Andrew Yang after CNBC flub: ‘That’s about the 12th apology I’ve gotten,’” Yahoo Entertainment, January 16, 2020,

[xxxiii] Joe Concha, “Yang: I’ve received about 12 apologies from media networks during campaign,” The Hill, January 16, 2020,

[xxxiv] Collin Anderson, “CNBC Mistakes Andrew Yang for GOP Venture Capitalist,” Washington Free Beacon, January 6, 2020,

[xxxv] Jada Yuan, “The surprising, enduring relevance of Andrew Yang and his ideas,” Stamford Advocate, March 23, 2020,

[xxxvi] Keoni Everington, “MSNBC accused of blacking out Taiwanese-American candidate, again,” Taiwan News, November 18, 2019,

[xxxvii] Brian Flood, “NBC News staffers apologize to 2020 Democratic hopeful Andrew Yang over botched graphic,” Fox News, September 6, 2019,

[xxxviii] Keoni Everington, “MSNBC accused of blacking out Taiwanese-American candidate, again.”

[xxxix] Jennifer Doherty, “ANDREW YANG FANS CRY FOUL OVER CANDIDATE’S LACK OF MEDIA COVERAGE,” Newsweek, August 29, 2019,

[xl] Bryan Ke, “New York Times Slammed For Making Andrew Yang Look Short, Issues Correction,” Nextshark, October 18, 2019,

[xli] Walt Hickey & Grace Panetta, “Presidential contender Andrew Yang has had considerably low speaking times at Democratic debates compared to his strong polling,” Business Insider Australia, November 24, 2019,

[xlii] Eugene Daniels, “Yang Lashes out at MSNBC,” Politico, November 25, 2019,

[xliii] Caroline Kelly, “Yang claims microphone was ‘off unless called on’ during debate; NBC says he’s wrong,” CNN, June 28, 2019,

[xliv] @Timcast, Twitter, June 28, 2019,

[xlv] David Martosko, “’It was like, “Oh f**k”!’ Long-shot Democrat Andrew Yang says his microphone was OFF during parts of Thursday’s debate and ‘I was talking but nothing was happening,’” Daily Mail UK, June 28, 2019,

[xlvi] Gina Chon, “Breakingviews – China is elephant in the room amid 2020 Democrats,” Reuters, June 28, 2019,

[xlvii] @AndrewYang, Twitter, October 10, 2019,

[xlviii] Julie Hollar, “The Media Are Ignoring Andrew Yang | Opinion,” Newsweek, January 7, 2020,


[l] Celia Darrough, “Andrew Yang’s 2020 campaign, by the numbers,” Mic, January 30, 2020,

[li] Eugene Daniels, “Yang Lashes out at MSNBC.”

[lii] Amy Lieu, “Andrew Yang asked 1st question 32 minutes into debate; later jokes he’ll tell Putin ‘Sorry I beat your guy,’” Fox 10 Phoenix, November 20, 2019,

[liii] David Catanese, “Andrew Yang has exceeded expectations. Now he wants to be taken Seriously,” McClatchy DC, November 21, 2019,

[liv] Madeleine Joung, “Is Andrew Yang the Anti-Trump?” The Crimson, February 21, 2019,

[lv] Kimmy Yam, “Andrew Yang says being Asian American may explain lack of media coverage,” NBC News, December 12, 2019,

[lvi] Sam Morris, et al. “How diverse is the 2018 US Congress?” The Guardian UK, June 7, 2019,


[lviii] Gage Miskimen, “’I’m going to be here in the state over and over again’: Andrew Yang prepares for final push before Iowa caucus,” Des Moines Register, November 23, 2019,

[lix] Ben Smith, “Andrew Yang Could Win This Thing,” BuzzFeed News, January 2, 2020,

[lx] Madeleine Joung, “Is Andrew Yang the Anti-Trump?”

[lxi] Aaron Mak, “It Was Heartbreaking.… I Probably Tweeted Like 100 Times Yesterday,” Slate, February 12, 2020,

[lxii] David Catanese, “Andrew Yang has exceeded expectations. Now he wants to be taken Seriously.”

[lxiii] Rebecca Morin, “How Andrew Yang ended up in a viral video dancing the Cupid Shuffle,” USA Today, August 16, 2019,

[lxiv] Geoffrey Skelley, “What We Know About Andrew Yang’s Base,” FiveThirtyEight, December 17, 2019,

[lxv] Amanda Hartfield, “Democratic candidate Andrew Yang appeared at Rich Brian’s NYC show (watch),” Brooklyn Vegan, October 9, 2019,

[lxvi] Marty Johnson, “Crowd cheers as Andrew Yang makes surprise appearance at hip hop Concert,” The Hill, October 9, 2019,

[lxvii] Lauren Fedor, “Andrew Yang stands out with unconventional tactics in Democratic race,” Financial Times, October 24, 2019,

[lxviii] @WeatherEric, Twitter, February 8, 2020,

[lxix] Troy Patterson, “Democratic Debate 2019: Andrew Yang’s Bold Lack of a Tie,” The New Yorker, June 27, 2019,

[lxx] Ashley Collman, “Andrew Yang went for a casual look at the Democratic debate, leading Brian Williams to ask ‘Would it kill you to throw on a tie?’” Business Insider, June 27, 2019,

[lxxi] Alex Thompson, “Behind the curtain of Andrew Yang’s crazy, totally novel debate prep session,” Politico, September 12, 2019.


[lxxiii] Dylan Matthews, “Andrew Yang, the 2020 long-shot candidate running on a universal basic income, explained,” Vox, June 15, 2019,

[lxxiv] Russell Brandom, “ANDREW YANG IS THE CANDIDATE FOR THE END OF THE WORLD,” The Verge, April 17, 2019,

[lxxv] Lisa Eadicicco, “The 10 Most Popular Podcasts of 2015,” TIME, December 9, 2015,

[lxxvi] Leaf Arbuthnot, “The Joe Rogan effect: how a libertarian pothead became America’s most powerful podcaster,” The Telegraph UK, April 10, 2020,

[lxxvii] Devin Gordon, “Why Is Joe Rogan So Popular?” The Atlantic, August 19, 2019,

[lxxviii] “Most Watched JRE Podcast Episodes from 2019,” The Joe Rogan Experience,

[lxxix] Dylan Matthews, “Andrew Yang, the 2020 long-shot candidate running on a universal basic income, Explained.”

[lxxx] Matt Stevens, “Andrew Yang’s Campaign Has a Lot of Money. Now What?” New York Times, November 11, 2019,

[lxxxi] Matt Stevens, “Why a Joe Rogan Endorsement Could Help (or Backfire on) Bernie Sanders,” New York Times, January 24, 2020,

[lxxxii] Joe Rogan, “Joe Rogan Experience #1412 – Jimmy Doer,” The Joe Rogan Experience, January 16, 2020,

[lxxxiii] @Tracy, Twitter, January 18, 2020,

[lxxxiv] Joe Rogan, “Joe Rogan Experience #1412 – Jimmy Doer.”

[lxxxv] “First 65k donor long sleeve shirt,” Imgur, October 30, 2019,

[lxxxvi] Anthony Fisher, “From ‘Trump train’ to ‘Yang Gang’: Meet the conservatives and swing voters who have fallen hard for Andrew Yang,” Business Insider, February 7, 2020,

[lxxxvii] Jerry Zremski, “Meet the member of the Bills Mafia who’s helping to lead the ‘Yang Gang,’” The Buffalo News, November 18, 2019,

[lxxxviii] Jessica Campisi, “Yang ‘disappointed’ Weather Channel excluded him from climate change special,” The Hill, October 22, 2019,


[xc] “Yang Answers Questions in 10-Hour Online Session,” NBC NECN, October 18, 2019,

[xci] “Yang Hosts #AskAndrew 10-Hour Marathon Q&A -Unmoderated and Honest,” Yang2020 Blog, October 15, 2019,

[xcii] Fred Ramey, “Andrew Yang Presidential Candidate for 2020 Rides in my Truck talking about trucking, felons & drugs,” Fred The Felon, March 21, 2019,

[xciii] “Google Andrew Yang,” YangPrints,

[xciv] “Youtube Andrew Yang Business Card Share Link,” YangPrints,

[xcv] “Change “Google Andrew Yang” to “Youtube Andrew Yang,”” Reddit, September 24, 2019,

[xcvi] Tom Leung, “#MyYangStory as a father of two Asian American sons seeing #Yang2020 become such a diverse movement,” Nerds for Yang (now: Nerds for Humanity), September 13, 2019,

[xcvii] “The Zach and Matt Show,” The Zach and Matt Show,

[xcviii] “Nerds for Humanity,” Nerds for Humanity,

[xcix] Leandra Bernstein, “Andrew Yang could be the underdog to watch in 2020,” ABC 7 WJLA, November 26, 2019,

[c] Geoffrey Skelley, “What We Know About Andrew Yang’s Base.”

[ci] Sarah Ewall-Wice, “When a political campaign ends, where does all the extra money go?” CBS News, April 29, 2020,

[cii] Edward Isaac-Dovere, “Andrew Yang’s Campaign Is Not a Joke,” The Atlantic, January 17, 2020,

[ciii] Noah Kim, “How Andrew Yang Quieted the Asian American Right,” The Atlantic, February 3, 2020,

[civ] Emily Witt, “How Andrew Yang’s Robot Apocalypse Can Heal a Divided Nation,” The New Yorker, July 18, 2019,

[cv] Daniel Kittredge, “Fung sees Yang’s campaign as inspiration for others,” Johnston Sunrise, January 8, 2020.,150318.

[cvi] David Kim, “#30 David Kim,” Moving Forward Podcast, August 27, 2019,

[cvii] @davidkim2020, Twitter, May 1, 2020,

[cviii] “Former Rep. Honda Endorses Yang for President,” Rafu Shimpo, January 24, 2020,


[cx] Benjamin Pu, “Andrew Yang touts Chappelle endorsement: ‘He has the same hopes I do,’” NBC, January 15, 2020,

[cxi] Matthew Seeman, “Andrew Yang to attend Las Vegas events after dropping out of presidential race,” NBC News 3 Las Vegas, February 12, 2020,

[cxii] Rebecca Sun, “Ronny Chieng on the Appeal of #YangGang and Asians Getting Political,” The Hollywood Reporter, January 12, 2020,

[cxiii] Benjamin Pu, “Andrew Yang touts Chappelle endorsement: ‘He has the same hopes I do.’”

[cxiv] Ryan Higa, “Why You Should Vote for Andrew Yang (Ft. Andrew Yang) – Off The Pill Podcast #32,” YouTube, September 15, 2019.

[cxv] Michael Fraiman, “Don’t count out Andrew Yang, the populist technocrat who wants to be president,” Maclean’s Canada, September 10, 2019,

[cxvi] Charley Lanyon, “Meet Simu Liu: the actor playing Marvel’s first Asian superhero Shang-chi is battling global stereotypes,” South China Morning Post, December 7, 2019,

[cxvii] @SimuLiu, Twitter, August 11, 2019,

[cxviii] Nicholas Thompson, “Andrew Yang Is Not Full of Shit,” Wired Magazine, November 5, 2019,

[cxix] Skelley, Geoffrey. “What We Know About Andrew Yang’s Base.”

[cxx] Anthony Fisher, “From ‘Trump train’ to ‘Yang Gang’: Meet the conservatives and swing voters who have fallen hard for Andrew Yang.”

[cxxi] Holly Honderich, “Where will the Yang Gang go next?” BBC News, February 13, 2020,

[cxxii] “Our Policies,” Yang2020,

[cxxiii] Anthony Fisher, “From ‘Trump train’ to ‘Yang Gang’: Meet the conservatives and swing voters who have fallen hard for Andrew Yang.”

[cxxiv] Gage Miskimen, “’I’m going to be here in the state over and over again’: Andrew Yang prepares for final push before Iowa caucus.”

[cxxv] Christopher Rim, “Andrew Yang Had The Best Answer To The “Ellen Question,”” Forbes, October 17, 2019,

[cxxvi] Elaine Godfrey, “What Yang Voters Really Want,” The Atlantic, December 21, 2019,

[cxxvii] Zhaoyin Feng, “Farewell to the leader of the ‘Yang Gang,’” BBC News, February 13, 2020,

[cxxviii] Sara Burnett, “Andrew Yang having fun, but Democrat’s message is serious,” News Channel ABC 12, December 8, 2019,

[cxxix] Justin Caffier, “All 76 of Andrew Yang’s Policies Ranked from ‘Regular’ to ‘Science Fiction,’” Vice, March 27, 2019,

[cxxx]  Kelsey Piper, “What Andrew Yang is doing next: A push for UBI and “human-centered capitalism,”” Vox, March 6, 2020,

[cxxxi] James Lynch, “Presidential hopeful Andrew Yang pitches ‘Freedom Dividend,’” The Gazette, April 24, 2018,

[cxxxii] Julia Manchester, “Buttigieg to Yang: ‘It’s original, I’ll give you that,’” The Hill, September 12, 2019,

[cxxxiii] Kevin Roose, “His 2020 Campaign Message: The Robots Are Coming.”

[cxxxiv] Emily Witt, “How Andrew Yang’s Robot Apocalypse Can Heal a Divided Nation.”

[cxxxv] Tom Goodwin & Adriana Stan, “Andrew Yang is running for President to save America from the robots,” TechCrunch, March 18, 2018,

[cxxxvi] O’Connor, Maureen, “Random Man Runs for President.”

[cxxxvii] Andrew Yang, The War On Normal People, 2018.

[cxxxviii] Klaus Schwab, “The Fourth Industrial Revolution: what it means, how to respond,” World Economic Forum, January 14, 2016,

[cxxxix] Kaveh Waddell & Alison Snyder, “Automation is 2020’s least understood issue,” Axios, December 8, 2019,

[cxl] Justin Caffier, “All 76 of Andrew Yang’s Policies Ranked from ‘Regular’ to ‘Science Fiction.’”

[cxli] “Pete Buttigieg Sounds Like Andrew Yang,” The Zach and Matt Show, November 1, 2019,

[cxlii] “Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Introduces Resolution Calling for Emergency Universal Basic Payment as Direct Coronavirus Pandemic Relief,” Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard Congressional Website, March 12, 2020,

[cxliii] Kristen Sze, “California lawmaker, former Andrew Yang campaign co-chair, proposes statewide universal income,” ABC 7 News, February 25, 2020,

[cxliv] Abby Vesoulis, “‘I’ll Be a Very Happy Man.’ Will the Coronavirus Outbreak Turn Andrew Yang’s $1,000 Promise Into Reality?” Time Magazine, March 17, 2020,

[cxlv] Addy Baird, “Mitt Romney Wants The Government To Give Every American Adult $1,000 During The Coronavirus Outbreak,” BuzzFeed News, March 16, 2020,

[cxlvi] Charles Davis, “House Democrats introduce plan to pay Americans $2,000 a month until economy recovers from COVID-19,” Business Insider, April 15, 2020,

[cxlvii] Catherine Clifford, “‘Americans need cash now:’ Coronavirus has lawmakers calling for UBI,” CNBC, March 17, 2020.

[cxlviii] Andrew Solender, “Pushing Universal Basic Income, Andrew Yang Supporters Get #CongressPassUBI Trending,” Forbes, April 24, 2020,

[cxlix] Nikki Schwab, “Nancy Pelosi says it’s ‘perhaps’ time to consider universal basic income pushed by Andrew Yang during his failed presidential campaign,” Daily Mail UK, April 28,  2020,


[cli] Miles Howard. “The Federal Check Won’t Be Enough. Now’s The Time For Mass. To Introduce A Universal Basic Income,” WBUR, March 25, 2020,

[clii] Zhaoyin Feng, “Farewell to the leader of the ‘Yang Gang.’”

[cliii] Devan Cole, “Andrew Yang joins CNN as a political commentator,” CNN, February 19, 2020,

[cliv] O’Connor, Maureen, “Random Man Runs for President.”

[clv] Kevin Roose, “His 2020 Campaign Message: The Robots Are Coming.”

[clvi] Andy Kroll, “‘I Came From the Internet’: Inside Andrew Yang’s Wild Ride,” Rolling Stone, July 19, 2019,

[clvii] Eugene Daniels, “The rise and fall of Andrew Yang’s wild presidential campaign,” Politico, February 12, 2020,

[clviii] Herb Scribner, “Democratic debate: Andrew Yang says his mic cut off. And now #LetYangSpeak is trending,” Deseret News, June 28, 2019,

[clix] Abby Budiman, et al. “Key facts about Asian origin groups in the U.S.,” Pew Research, May 22, 2019,

[clx] Esther Yoon-Ji Kang, “The Fight For Asian American Political Power,” NPR Chicago, May 30, 2019,

[clxi] David Byler, “Politicians often overlook Asian American voters. They shouldn’t, especially in 2020,” Washington Post, July 10, 2019,

[clxii] Zhaoyin Feng, “Farewell to the leader of the ‘Yang Gang.’”

[clxiii] Noel King, “Off Script: Andrew Yang’s Appeal To Undecided Voters,” NPR, October 20, 2019,

[clxiv] Robbie Sequeira, “Can Andrew Yang and his grassroots campaign “shock the world” on Feb. 3? He thinks so,” Ames Tribune, January 14, 2020,

[clxv] Tony Schinella, “Andrew Yang: ‘We’re Going To Shock The World In February,’” Patch, January 2, 2020,

[clxvi] Holly Honderich, “Where will the Yang Gang go next?”