Cenk Uygur

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Cenk Uygur
Cenk Uygur.jpg
Uygur in 2017
BornCenk Kadir Uygur
(1970-03-21) March 21, 1970 (age 48)
Istanbul, Turkey
ResidenceWest Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
CitizenshipTurkey
United States
Alma materUniversity of Pennsylvania (BS)
Columbia University (JD)
OccupationActivist, Columnist, Entrepreneur, Political pundit
Known forThe Young Turks
TelevisionMSNBC (2010–2011)
Current TV (2011–2013)
Political partyRepublican (before 2000)[1]
Independent (2000–2016)
Democratic (2016–present)[2]
MovementProgressivism
Spouse(s)Wendy Lang
Children2
AwardsThe Humanist Media Award
Emperor Has No Clothes Award

Cenk Kadir Uygur (/ˈɛŋk ˈjuːɡər/; Turkish: [ˈdʒɛŋc kaˈdiɾ ˈujɡur]; born March 21, 1970) is a Turkish-American lawyer, businessman, columnist, journalist, activist and political commentator. Uygur is the main host and creator of The Young Turks (TYT), an American progressive political and social commentary program. Before beginning his career as a political commentator, he worked briefly as an associate attorney in Washington, D.C. and New York City. As a young man, Uygur supported social conservative views, opposed abortion, affirmative action and feminism in the United States. Over time his views changed;[3] he is now a leading voice in the progressive[4][5] movement.

In addition to hosting The Young Turks, Uygur appeared on MSNBC as a political commentator. From January to June 2011, he hosted a weeknight commentary show on the network; he was replaced by Al Sharpton.[6] After leaving MSNBC, Uygur secured another weeknight commentary show on Current TV, which aired from December 5, 2011, to August 15, 2013.[7] From 2012 to 2013, he was the chief news officer at Current TV, succeeding Keith Olbermann.[8][9]

Early life, education, and career[edit]

Uygur was born in Istanbul, Turkey, and emigrated with his family when he was eight years old.[10] He spent his adolescence in East Brunswick, New Jersey, and graduated from East Brunswick High School. Uygur was raised in a secular Muslim household, but became more religious during college before becoming agnostic. He graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1992, where he majored in management[11] and was on the Student Activities Council representing the Turkish Students Association.[12] He then received a Juris Doctor degree from Columbia Law School[13] 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.[14]

Uygur first appeared as a talk show host on a weekend radio show on WWRC in Washington, D.C. and on WRKO in Boston, Massachusetts. He later wrote for, produced, and appeared on the WAMI-TV news show The Times in Miami, Florida, then started The Young Turks on Sirius Satellite Radio.[15]

Political views[edit]

In college and law school, Uygur espoused politically conservative views during the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. He wrote a column in The Daily Pennsylvanian criticizing the University of Pennsylvania's practice of affirmative action.[11] He was pro-life on abortion, criticized feminism, and argued that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was treated unjustly during his Senate confirmation hearings.[16] Since then he has repudiated these positions and is now ardently pro-choice.[17] He has also criticized organized religion as divisive and based on mythology.[18]

In 1991 Uygur wrote an article in The Daily Pennsylvanian in which he promoted Armenian Genocide denial.[19] He reiterated his position in a letter to the editor of Salon in 1999.[20] In a blog post in April 2016, he rescinded the statements. He went on to claim that he does not know enough today to comment on it.[21] As of 2017, his full acceptance of the term "genocide" has been indicated on the main TYT program: on September 6 he referred to the Armenian Genocide[22] while discussing the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar, and on November 29, while discussing the in-court suicide of war criminal Slobodan Praljak, he referred to the Armenian genocide twice.[23]

Uygur with Bernie Sanders at a campaign rally in California in 2016

Uygur slowly transitioned away from the Republican Party and has said that the decision to invade Iraq was a "seminal moment" in that transition.[3] He is now a progressive.[4][5] 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, has stated that he advocates a two-state solution in the West Bank, and has repeatedly criticized the Israeli government for its failure to materialize.[24] He has also repeatedly criticized former Canadian Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper.[25]

Uygur supported Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders for president in the 2016 election. Just before the general election, Uygur stated his intention to vote for the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.

The Young Turks[edit]

Uygur in 2016

Uygur created the talk show The Young Turks with the goal of starting a liberal-leaning political and entertainment show.[8][26] It launched on the Sirius Satellite Radio network on February 14, 2002.[27] The Young Turks started a daily news video show on YouTube in 2015 and claims to have been the first.[28] Uygur regularly states that The Young Turks is the largest online news show in the world, and has claimed so since at least 2011.[29] It has amassed over 7.5 billion views on YouTube, and over 4 million subscribers.[30] Leveraging the strength of The Young Turks talk show, Uygur expanded it into a network of channels and shows, beginning with Pop trigger on July 5, 2007.[31] As a network, The Young Turks has amassed over 8 billion views and over 13 million subscribers across all the platforms which they stream.[32] Video of the show is streamed daily on its website and is available as a podcast.[33][34]

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.[35] The show on Current TV ended on August 15, 2013, with the end of all live programming on Current TV.

On May 17, 2018, The Young Turks launched its own TV format 24 hour channel on YouTube TV which includes both live and prerecorded programming.[36]

MSNBC[edit]

On October 21, 2010, MSNBC hired Uygur as a contributor and substitute anchor for the network. On January 21, 2011, it Uygur was made the host of 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 time slots of MSNBC's other prime time shows. Uygur filled the time slot vacated by Ed Schultz,[37][38] 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.[6] An MSNBC spokesperson expressed regret at Uygur's leaving.[39]

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.[40] MSNBC responded by saying, "We did have numerous conversations with Cenk about his style, not substance."[41]

Wolf-PAC[edit]

Uygur speaking at the People's Climate March in Washington, D.C. in April 2017

In late 2011, after seeing the momentum of Occupy Wall Street, Uygur decided to launch a long term project, a political action committee named Wolf-PAC. Wolf-PAC aims to lobby state legislators to pass resolutions calling for a 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.[42] As of 2017, five states have passed the resolution thus calling for such a convention, though not all states have used identical language in their convention call.[43]

Justice Democrats[edit]

On January 23, 2017, three days after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, Uygur formed the Justice Democrats.[44][45] The group seeks to steer the Democratic Party in the strongly progressive, social democratic or democratic socialist direction espoused by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders. They do this by running progressive candidates in primaries against moderate and conservative Democrats, often called 'corporate Democrats',[46] such as Joe Manchin,[47] Claire McCaskill,[48] and Dianne Feinstein.[49]

Resignation[edit]

Uygur resigned from his position in Justice Democrats on December 22, 2017, after the discovery of blog posts he had written in the early 2000s, when Cenk was in his thirties, which were described as "disturbingly sexist and racist". The statement released by Justice Democrats read "We are deeply disturbed by recent news regarding Cenk Uygur and David Koller. Their Language and content is horrifying and does not reflect our values at Justice Democrats".[50]

The next day, Uygur apologized in a video on The Young Turks channel on YouTube for the posts and said he had written them when he was a conservative, stating:

"Some of the stuff that I wrote was totally offensive, insensitive, ignorant [...] to anyone who read it, I certainly apologize because you were right to be offended. I was an immature guy trying to show how cool I was by being edgy and not politically correct. What I have learned through all these years is that political incorrectness may sound fun to young men like myself at the time, but not everybody sees it the same way. [...] You might see it a little differently if you looked at it from the perspective of a woman who has been harassed or assaulted. What we have been trying to do on this show since its conception is to learn to empathize with one another. And, look, it is not an easy process, and I have said a million times, the hardest thing in the world is to escape your own perspective, and I wish I could go back to the younger Cenk and explain that to him. If someone had written this today, I would harshly criticize them on air, and try to explain that to them. [...] For the people who read it and were offended, I ask for your forgiveness, and for all of you your understanding to some degree. I hope we continue to grow and spread empathy on the show."[51]

Personal life[edit]

Uygur was born and raised in a Muslim family, but is now a self-described atheist.[52][53][54][55] 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.[56][57]

He is married to Wendy Lang, a marriage and family therapist, and they have two children.[58][59]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cenk Uygur Goes #OffTheGrid – Jesse Ventura Off The Grid – Ora TV. YouTube. April 10, 2014.
  2. ^ Formed the Justice Democrats
  3. ^ a b 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.
  4. ^ a b Rampell, Ed. "Cenk Uygur". The Progressive. 76 (8). Retrieved June 30, 2013.
  5. ^ a b "Cenk Uygur bringing Young Turks to TV". United Press International. September 20, 2011.
  6. ^ a b Brian Stelter (July 20, 2011). "Sharpton Appears to Win Anchor Spot on MSNBC". The New York Times.
  7. ^ Stelter, Brian (September 20, 2011). "Current TV Hires Cenk Uygur". The New York Times.
  8. ^ a b Madlena, Chavala (April 26, 2010). "Cenk Uygur on the success of The Young Turks". The Guardian. London. Retrieved May 27, 2010.
  9. ^ 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 Mediabistro.com
  10. ^ "Coming to America!". The Young Turks. YouTube. June 14, 2007. Retrieved December 8, 2009.
  11. ^ a b Cenk Uygur (October 18, 1991). "Where are the White Christians?". The Daily Pennsylvanian. Retrieved June 15, 2014.
  12. ^ Drew W Zoller (April 25, 1991). "Turk, Armenian dispute raised at SAC". The Daily Pennsylvanian. Retrieved July 22, 2011.
  13. ^ "Cenk Uygur". The Huffington Post. Retrieved February 28, 2011.
  14. ^ Siddiqi, Ayesha R. (April 9, 2010). "Interview with Huffington Post's Cenk Uygur". Diskord. Archived from the original on August 14, 2011. Retrieved March 14, 2015.
  15. ^ Uygur, Cenk (c. 2007). "User Profile for Cenk Uygur (cuygur)". Confabb. Archived from the original on July 18, 2011. Retrieved February 28, 2011.
  16. ^ Cenk Uygur (November 8, 1991). "For Feminists". The Daily Pennsylvanian. Retrieved June 15, 2014.
  17. ^ "Cenk - Stand Up For Pro-Choice Position". The Young Turks.
  18. ^ Cenk Uygur (December 5, 1991). "A Federation of Humanity". The Daily Pennsylvanian. Retrieved June 15, 2014.
  19. ^ Uygur, Cenk (November 20, 1991). "Historical Fact or Falsehood?". The Daily Pennsylvanian. Archived from the original on June 20, 2012. Retrieved June 20, 2012.
  20. ^ "Letters to the Editor". Salon. June 16, 1999. Archived from the original on April 29, 2015.
  21. ^ "Rescinding Daily Pennsylvanian Article". TYT Network. Archived from the original on September 13, 2016. Retrieved November 3, 2016.
  22. ^ The Young Turks. (2017, September 6). Myanmar's Muslim genocide [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNzucJGfYGc. Uygur refers to the Armenian genocide at 3:05, and again at 4:09
  23. ^ The Young Turks. (2017, November 29). War criminal commits suicide in court [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uk1v2Me1bKw. Uygur refers to the Armenian genocide at 3:09 and again at 4:35-5:09.
  24. ^ Breakdown of Netanyahu's Appearance in US Congress on YouTube
  25. ^ "Conservatives Win In Canada Elections". The Young Turks. YouTube. May 3, 2011. Retrieved July 15, 2015.
  26. ^ Stein, Sam (August 19, 2011). "'Professional Left' Saga Says More About Media Than Obama". The Huffington Post. Retrieved August 21, 2011.
  27. ^ Tina Dupuy, "Cenk Uygur Sets Out to Take Down Traditional Television" Fast Company (December 1, 2009). Retrieved March 9, 2011
  28. ^ Network, TYT. "TYT Network". tyt.com. Retrieved 2018-09-12.
  29. ^ "Meet The Host Of "The Largest Online News Show In The World"". Business Insider. Retrieved 2018-09-12.
  30. ^ "The Young Turks". YouTube. Retrieved 2018-09-12.
  31. ^ "Pop Trigger". YouTube. Retrieved 2018-09-12.
  32. ^ The Young Turks (2018-07-24), TYT Taking Over The Galaxy, retrieved 2018-09-12
  33. ^ "The Young Turks: Rebel Headquarters : News : Politics : Commentary". Archived from the original on March 1, 2008. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
  34. ^ "The Young Turks: Welcome to The Young Turks Podcasting : News : Politics : Commentary". Archived from the original on January 6, 2011. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
  35. ^ "Cenk Uygur at the RNC & DNC". July 5, 2016.
  36. ^ Spangler, Todd (2018-05-17). "YouTube TV Launches Tastemade, TYT Network 24-Hour Linear Channels". Variety. Retrieved 2018-09-12.
  37. ^ "Keith Olbermann leaves MSNBC, speculation follows". The Washington Post. January 4, 2011. Retrieved March 9, 2011.
  38. ^ "Cenk Uygur Exits MSNBC" "Hollywood Reporter" (July 20, 2011). Retrieved July 21, 2011
  39. ^ "Cenk Uygur, host of "MSNBC Live" since January, will be leaving MSNBC after declining a shift to another timeslot". Reuters. July 20, 2011.
  40. ^ "Cenk Uygur Leaves MSNBC After Being Told to 'Act Like an Insider'". Democracy Now!. Retrieved October 15, 2014.
  41. ^ Mark Joyella (July 21, 2011). "MSNBC calls Cenk Uygur's Version of Departure 'Completely Baseless'". Mediaite. Retrieved October 26, 2011.
  42. ^ "The Plan". Wolf PAC. Retrieved February 26, 2013.
  43. ^ Bogdan, Jennifer (June 20, 2016). "At R.I. State House, Wolf PAC lobbyists made late push". Providence Journal. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  44. ^ "Progressives launch 'Justice Democrats' to counter party's 'corporate' legislators".
  45. ^ "Cenk Uygur Launches A "New Wing" Of Democratic Party: Justice Democrats".
  46. ^ https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/09/29/four-reasons-why-democrats-arent-facing-rebellions-in-primaries/
  47. ^ http://tuzmp3.co/mp3/progressive-primary-challenger-senator-joe-manchin-a-democrat-in-name-only.html
  48. ^ https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/03/young-turks-becoming-breitbart-left/
  49. ^ https://www.xumo.tv/video/XM0H7MR58SF89A/huge-dianne-feinstein-challenger-announcement-thursday-november-2nd
  50. ^ Justice Democrats [@justicedems] (22 December 2017). "We are deeply disturbed by recent news regarding @cenkuygur & David Koller. Their language and conduct is horrifying and does not reflect our values at Justice Democrats. We would be hypocrites to not act immediately and ask for their resignation. Here is our official statement:" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  51. ^ Uygur, Cenk. "Cenk Responds To Past Blog Posts". YouTube. The Young Turks. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
  52. ^ 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
  53. ^ Öz, Işıl (July 3, 2008). ""The Young Turks" is the first nationwide 'liberal talk show' in US". Turkish Journal. Retrieved April 29, 2011.
  54. ^ "Cenk Uygur Finally Admits He's An Atheist".
  55. ^ "Bill Maher & Sarah Palin Agree: Arrest Clock-Wielding Muslims Just In Case". The Young Turks Youtube Channel. September 22, 2015. Retrieved September 22, 2015.
  56. ^ "Truth-tellers Hirsi Ali, Uygur are FFRF's 'Emperor' awardees". Freedom From Religion Foundation. September 21, 2010. Retrieved September 15, 2011.
  57. ^ 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: Theblaze.com. Archived from the original on June 2, 2012. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
  58. ^ "Prometheus Maximus Uygur Introduced on MSNBC" on YouTube (July 16, 2010). Retrieved November 3, 2011
  59. ^ "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. October 15, 2012. Archived from the original on March 13, 2013. Retrieved April 14, 2015.

External links[edit]

Media offices
Preceded by
Keith Olbermann
Chief News Officer, Current TV
2012–2013
Office abolished