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Cenk Uygur

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Cenk Uygur
Cenk Uygur by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Uygur in June 2016
Born Cenk Kadir Uygur
(1970-03-21) March 21, 1970 (age 46)
Istanbul, Turkey
Residence West Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, United States
Citizenship Turkey
United States
Alma mater University of Pennsylvania (B.S.)
Columbia University (J.D.)
Occupation Activist, columnist, entrepreneur, and political pundit
Known for The Young Turks
Television MSNBC (2010–2011)
Current TV (2011–2013)
Political party Republican (before 1992)[1]
Independent (1992–2016)
Justice Democrats (2016–present)
Movement Progressive
Spouse(s) Wendy Lang
Children 2
Awards The Humanist Media Award
Emperor Has No Clothes Award

Cenk Kadir Uygur (/ˈɛŋk ˈjɡər/, Turkish pronunciation: [ˈdʒɛɲc ˈujɡur]; born March 21, 1970) is an American activist, businessman, columnist, and political commentator. Uygur is the main host and co-founder of the The Young Turks (TYT), an American liberal/progressive political and social commentary program. Before beginning his career as a political commentator, he worked as an attorney in Washington, D.C. and New York City. As a young man, Uygur espoused socially conservative views, criticizing abortion, affirmative action, and feminism. He is now a progressive.[2][3]

In addition to hosting TYT, Uygur appeared on MSNBC as a political commentator. From January to June 2011, he hosted a weeknight commentary show on the network; Uygur was replaced by Al Sharpton.[4] After leaving MSNBC, he secured another weeknight commentary show on Current TV, which aired from December 5, 2011 to August 15, 2013.[5] From 2012 to 2013, Uygur was the chief news officer at Current TV, succeeding Keith Olbermann.[6][7]

Early life, education, and career

Uygur was born in Istanbul, Turkey, and emigrated with his family when he was eight years old.[8] He spent his adolescence in East Brunswick, New Jersey, and graduated from East Brunswick High School. Raised as a Muslim, Uygur became an agnostic later in life.[9] He graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania where he majored in management[10] and was on the Student Activities Council representing the Turkish Students Association.[11] He then received a Juris Doctor degree from Columbia Law School[12] and worked as an associate attorney at the law firms of Drinker Biddle & Reath in Washington, D.C. and Hayes & Liebman in New York City.[13]

Uygur first appeared as a talk show host on a weekend radio show on WWRC in Washington, D.C. and on WRKO in Boston. He later wrote for, produced, and appeared on the WAMI-TV news show The Times in Miami, then started The Young Turks on Sirius Satellite Radio.[14]

Political views

In his college and law school years, Uygur espoused socially conservative views. He wrote a column in The Daily Pennsylvanian criticizing Penn's practice of affirmative action.[10] He supported the pro-life position on the abortion issue, criticized feminism, and argued that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was treated unjustly during his Senate confirmation hearings.[15] He also criticized organized religion as based on mythology and as a divisive force between people.[16]

In 1991 Uygur wrote an article on the The Daily Pennsylvanian in which he expressed the opinion that the genocide of Armenians during the late stages of the Ottoman Empire did not in fact constitute genocide,[17] a view he repeated in a letter to the editor of Salon in 1999.[18] In a blog post in April 2016, he announced that his views on the matter had changed significantly since 1991 and formally rescinded the statements. He went on to claim that he does not know enough today to comment on the genocide.[19]

Uygur slowly transitioned away from the Republican party and he said that the decision to invade Iraq was a "seminal moment" in that transition.[20] He is now a progressive.[2][3] On national security and civil liberties issues, Uygur has strongly opposed the practices begun under the Bush administration, of indefinite detention, warrantless wiretapping and extraordinary rendition, and believes that waterboarding is an illegal torture technique. Uygur has been a strong critic of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the right-wing Israeli government and has stated that he is an advocate for a two-state solution in the West Bank and has repeatedly criticized the Israeli government for its failure to materialize.[21] He has also repeatedly criticized former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.[22]

The Young Turks

Uygur hosting The Young Turks in 2015
Main article: The Young Turks

Uygur created the talk show The Young Turks with the goal of starting a liberal political and entertainment show.[6][23] It launched on February 14, 2002. It later became a success online, and aired on the Sirius Satellite Radio network.[24] The Young Turks claims to be the first Internet video news show and states that it is now the largest online news show in the world.[when?] Collectively it has amassed over one billion views on YouTube, and over three million subscribers.[25] Video of the show is streamed daily on its website and is available as a podcast.[26][27]

On September 20, 2011, Current TV announced that The Young Turks would launch a weeknight TV edition of the show at 7 p.m. EST (M-F) on the network beginning sometime in the fourth quarter of 2011. According to the show's website, the show was introduced as The Young Turks with Cenk Uygur to differentiate itself from the popular web series.[28] The show on Current TV ended on August 15, 2013 with the end of all live programming on Current.

On July 21, 2016, radio host Alex Jones and Roger Stone interrupted a live broadcast of The Young Turks at the 2016 Republican National Convention, resulting in a heated verbal altercation between them.[29]


On October 21, 2010 MSNBC announced that Uygur had been officially hired as a contributor and substitute anchor for the network. On January 21, 2011, it was announced that Uygur would be hosting the 6 p.m. Eastern slot on MSNBC as the anchor of a new prime time edition of MSNBC Live, after the network parted ways with Keith Olbermann, resulting in a rearrangement of the timeslots of MSNBC's other prime time shows. Uygur filled the time slot vacated by Ed Schultz,[30][31] from late January through June 2011, earning first among people 18–34 in the second quarter. His contract was ended when he did not accept a lower profile weekend slot.[4] An MSNBC spokesperson expressed regret at Uygur's leaving.[32]

Uygur gave his side of the story on Democracy Now!, saying that MSNBC President Phil Griffin had called him into his office in April and told him that he had been talking to people in Washington and that they did not like Uygur's tone.[33] MSNBC denied the claim, saying that "We did have numerous conversations with Cenk about his style, not substance."[34]


Main article: Wolf-PAC

In late 2011, after seeing the momentum of Occupy Wall Street, Uygur decided to launch a long term project of his, a political action committee named Wolf-PAC. Wolf-PAC aims to lobby state legislators to pass resolutions calling for an Convention of the States under Article V of the US Constitution. Its slogan is "A super-PAC to end all super-PACs". The aim of the convention would be to pass an amendment to the United States Constitution that would end corporate personhood and publicly finance all elections in the United States.[35]

Justice Democrats

In January 2017, just three days after the inauguration of controversial president Donald Trump, Uygur announced on The Young Turks the formation of the Justice Democrats[36][37] group to steer the Democratic Party in the progressive, social democratic direction espoused by Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Personal life

Uygur was born and raised in a Muslim family, but is now a self-described "fervent agnostic", but has also self-described as an atheist.[38][39][40][41] In 2010, along with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Uygur accepted the "Emperor Has No Clothes Award" from the Freedom From Religion Foundation and later the Humanist Media Award from the American Humanist Association.[42][43] He is married to Wendy Lang, a marriage and family therapist. They are the parents of a son, born in July 2010,[44] and a daughter, born in October 2012.[45] Cenk has stated that he grew up a fan of the Fenerbahçe S.K. soccer team.[46]


  1. ^ Cenk Uygur Goes #OffTheGrid – Jesse Ventura Off The Grid – Ora TV. YouTube. 10 April 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Rampell, Ed. "Cenk Uygur". The Progressive. 76 (8). Retrieved June 30, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "Cenk Uygur bringing Young Turks to TV". UPI. Sep 20, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Brian Stelter (July 20, 2011). "Sharpton Appears to Win Anchor Spot on MSNBC". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ Stelter, Brian (September 20, 2011). "Current TV Hires Cenk Uygur". The New York Times. 
  6. ^ a b Madlena, Chavala (April 26, 2010). "Cenk Uygur on the success of The Young Turks". Guardian. London. Retrieved May 27, 2010. 
  7. ^ Hammer, Andrea K. (May 25, 2010). "Hey, How'd You Draw 250 Million Viewers to Your Web Show, The Young Turks?". Retrieved May 26, 2010. On January 21, 2010, MSNBC announced he would be substitute hosting a one-hour news show for the station at 6 P.M. Eastern on weeknights 
  8. ^ "Coming to America!". The Young Turks. YouTube. June 14, 2007. Retrieved December 8, 2009. 
  9. ^ "That's why I left Islam". The Young Turks. YouTube. 
  10. ^ a b Cenk Uygur (October 18, 1991). "Where are the White Christians?". The Daily Pennsylvanian. Retrieved June 15, 2014. 
  11. ^ Drew W Zoller (April 25, 1991). "Turk, Armenian dispute raised at SAC". The Daily Pennsylvanian. Retrieved July 22, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Cenk Uygur". The Huffington Post. Retrieved February 28, 2011. 
  13. ^ Siddiqi, Ayesha R. (April 9, 2010). "Interview with Huffington Post's Cenk Uygur". Diskord. Archived from the original on 14 August 2011. Retrieved 14 March 2015. 
  14. ^ Uygur, Cenk (c. 2007). "User Profile for Cenk Uygur (cuygur)". Confabb. Retrieved February 28, 2011. 
  15. ^ Cenk Uygur (November 8, 1991). "For Feminists". The Daily Pennsylvanian. Retrieved June 15, 2014. 
  16. ^ Cenk Uygur (December 5, 1991). "A Federation of Humanity". The Daily Pennsylvanian. Retrieved June 15, 2014. 
  17. ^ Uygur, Cenk (1991-11-20). "Historical Fact or Falsehood?". The Daily Pennsylvanian. Archived from the original on 2012-06-20. Retrieved 2012-06-20. 
  18. ^ "Letters to the Editor". 
  19. ^ "Rescinding Daily Pennsylvanian Article". TYT Network. Archived from the original on September 13, 2016. Retrieved November 3, 2016. 
  20. ^ Bryce Rudow (January 30, 2014). "Cenk Uygur Finally Opens Up About Keith Olbermann: "He's Clearly Got Clinical Issues"". The Daily Banter. Retrieved December 9, 2016. 
  21. ^ [ Breakdown of Netanyahu's Appearance in US Congress ] on YouTube
  22. ^ "Conservatives Win In Canada Elections". The Young Turks. YouTube. May 3, 2011. Retrieved July 15, 2015. 
  23. ^ Stein, Sam (August 19, 2011). "'Professional Left' Saga Says More About Media Than Obama". Huffington Post. Retrieved August 21, 2011. 
  24. ^ Tina Dupuy, "Cenk Uygur Sets Out to Take Down Traditional Television" Fast Company (December 1, 2009). Retrieved March 9, 2011
  25. ^ TYT Network Passes 5 MILLION Subscribers (Video). Youtube. 31 January 2016. 
  26. ^ "The Young Turks: Rebel Headquarters : News : Politics : Commentary". Retrieved August 29, 2010. 
  27. ^ "The Young Turks: Welcome to The Young Turks Podcasting : News : Politics : Commentary". Archived from the original on January 6, 2011. Retrieved August 29, 2010. 
  28. ^ "Cenk Uygur at the RNC & DNC". 5 July 2016. 
  29. ^ Tobias, Andrew J. (July 21, 2016). "Alex Jones involved in another altercation at Republican National Convention". Retrieved August 19, 2016. 
  30. ^ "Keith Olbermann leaves MSNBC, speculation follows". The Washington Post. January 4, 2011. Retrieved March 9, 2011. 
  31. ^ "Cenk Uygur Exits MSNBC" "Hollywood Reporter" (July 20, 2011). Retrieved July 21, 2011
  32. ^ "Cenk Uygur, host of "MSNBC Live" since January, will be leaving MSNBC after declining a shift to another timeslot". Reuters. July 20, 2011. 
  33. ^ "Cenk Uygur Leaves MSNBC After Being Told to "Act Like an Insider"". Democracy Now!. Retrieved 15 October 2014. 
  34. ^ Mark Joyella (July 21, 2011). "MSNBC calls Cenk Uygur's Version of Departure 'Completely Baseless'". Mediaite. Retrieved October 26, 2011. 
  35. ^ "The Plan". Wolf PAC. Retrieved February 26, 2013. 
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^ Uygur, Cenk (April 29, 2008). "Six Degrees of Barack Obama". The Huffington Post. Retrieved February 28, 2011. I am a fervent agnostic. I have argued vehemently against religion .... I went to school in Turkey until I was eight 
  39. ^ Öz, Işıl (July 3, 2008). ""The Young Turks" is the first nationwide 'liberal talk show' in US". Turkish Journal. Retrieved April 29, 2011. 
  40. ^ "Cenk Uygur Finally Admits He's An Atheist". 
  41. ^ "Bill Maher & Sarah Palin Agree: Arrest Clock-Wielding Muslims Just In Case". The Young Turks Youtube Channel. 22 September 2015. Retrieved 22 September 2015. 
  42. ^ "Truth-tellers Hirsi Ali, Uygur are FFRF's 'Emperor' awardees". Freedom From Religion Foundation. September 21, 2010. Retrieved September 15, 2011. 
  43. ^ Hallowell, Billy (May 30, 2012). "Teen Atheist who Brought Down Prayer Banner & Feminist Gloria Steinem to be Honored at Atheist Conference". The Blaze. New Orleans: Retrieved June 14, 2012. 
  44. ^ "Prometheus Maximus Uygur Introduced on MSNBC" on YouTube (July 16, 2010). Retrieved November 3, 2011
  45. ^ "Congratulations to Cenk and family on the birth of their new daughter, Joy — but TYT crew still keeping it real". The Young Turks. The Young Turks. 15 October 2012. Archived from the original on 13 March 2013. Retrieved 14 April 2015. 
  46. ^ "#AskCenk: Why Socialism Doesn't Work & Turkish Protests". The Young Turks Youtube Channel. 10 June 2013. Retrieved 11 June 2013. 

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External links

Media offices
Preceded by
Keith Olbermann
Chief News Officer, Current TV
Office abolished