Uygur in 2017
Cenk Kadir Uygur
March 21, 1970
|Residence||West Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, U.S.|
|Alma mater||Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania (BS)|
Columbia Law School (JD)
|Occupation||Activist, columnist, entrepreneur, political pundit|
|Known for||The Young Turks|
Current TV (2011–2013)
|Political party||Republican (before 2000)|
|Awards||The Humanist Media Award|
Emperor Has No Clothes Award
Cenk Kadir Uygur (/
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. After leaving MSNBC, Uygur secured another weeknight commentary show on Current TV, which aired from December 5, 2011, to August 15, 2013. From 2012 to 2013, he was the chief news officer at Current TV, succeeding Keith Olbermann.
Early life, education, and career
Uygur was born in Istanbul, Turkey, and emigrated with his family when he was eight years old. 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 and was on the Student Activities Council representing the Turkish Students Association. He then received a Juris Doctor degree from Columbia Law School 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.
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.
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. He was pro-life on abortion, criticized feminism, and argued that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was treated unjustly during his Senate confirmation hearings.
In 1991, Uygur wrote an article in The Daily Pennsylvanian in which he promoted Armenian Genocide denial. He reiterated his position in a letter to the editor of Salon in 1999. In a blog post in April 2016, he rescinded the statements. He went on to claim that he did not know enough then to comment on it. In a segment in 2017, he affirmed the Armenian Genocide. In 2019, he reaffirmed his acceptance of the Armenian Genocide.
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.
On May 16, 2019, Uygur announced that he will make an announcement in Iowa regarding the 2020 election causing speculation that he will make a bid for elected office.  Instead, at their Iowa "Revolution Rally" on June 8th, Uygur and The Young Turks team released their "Progressive Economic Pledge," created by consultation with a number of progressive groups establishing five pillars a politician needs to agree to and fight for to be considered a progressive. The five pillars include higher wages, Medicare for All, Green New Deal, College for All, and Ending the Corruption.
The Young Turks
Uygur created the talk show The Young Turks with the goal of starting a liberal-leaning political and entertainment show. It launched on the Sirius Satellite Radio network on February 14, 2002. The Young Turks started a daily news video show on YouTube in 2015 and claims to have been the first. Uygur regularly states that The Young Turks is the largest online news show in the world, and has claimed so since at least 2011. It has amassed over 7.5 billion views on YouTube, and over 4 million subscribers. 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. As a network, The Young Turks has amassed over 8 billion views and over 13 million subscribers across all the platforms which they stream. Video of the show is streamed daily on its website, as well as on YouTube, YouTubeTV, via various streaming platforms, broadcast on a handful of local television channels throughout the US, and is available as a podcast.
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. 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.
On October 21, 2010, MSNBC hired Uygur as a contributor and substitute anchor for the network. On January 21, 2011, 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, 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. An MSNBC spokesperson expressed regret at Uygur's leaving.
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. MSNBC responded by saying, "We did have numerous conversations with Cenk about his style, not substance."
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. As of 2017[update], five states have passed the resolution thus calling for such a convention, though not all states have used identical language in their convention call.
On January 23, 2017, three days after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, Uygur co-founded the Justice Democrats. 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 such as Joe Manchin, Joe Crowley, and Dianne Feinstein.
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, which were described as "disturbingly sexist and racist". 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.
Uygur was born and raised in a Muslim family, but is now a self-described agnostic. 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.
He is married to Wendy Lang, a marriage and family therapist, and they have two children.
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- Formed the Justice Democrats
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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
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- Justice Democrats [@justicedems] (December 22, 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.
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- Uygur, Cenk (April 29, 2008). "Six Degrees of Barack Obama". The Huffington Post. Archived from the original on June 7, 2011. 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
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