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Cenk Uygur

Cenk Uygur

Cenk Kadir Uygur (/ˈdʒɛŋk ˈjuːɡər/; Turkish: [ˈdʒeɲc kaˈdiɾ ˈujɡuɾ]; born March 21, 1970) is a Turkish-American broadcaster, 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, opposing abortion, affirmative action and feminism in the United States. Over time his views changed, now identifying as a progressive.[3]

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.[4] After leaving MSNBC, Uygur secured another weeknight commentary show on Current TV, which aired from December 5, 2011, to August 15, 2013.[5] From 2012 to 2013, he was the chief news officer at Current TV, succeeding Keith Olbermann.[6][7]

Cenk Uygur
Cenk Kadir Uygur

(1970-03-21)March 21, 1970
Istanbul, Turkey
ResidenceWest Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
United States
Alma materWharton School of the University of Pennsylvania (BS)
Columbia Law School (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]
Spouse(s)Wendy Lang
AwardsThe Humanist Media Award
Emperor Has No Clothes Award

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. 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[9] and was on the Student Activities Council representing the Turkish Students Association.[10] He then received a Juris Doctor degree from Columbia Law School[11] 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.[12]

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.[13]

Political views

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

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

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.[9] He was pro-life on abortion, criticized feminism, and argued that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was treated unjustly during his Senate confirmation hearings.[14]

In 1991, Uygur wrote an article in The Daily Pennsylvanian in which he promoted Armenian Genocide denial.[15] He reiterated his position in a letter to the editor of Salon in 1999.[16] 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.[17] In a segment in 2017, he affirmed the Armenian Genocide.[18] In 2019, he reaffirmed his acceptance of the Armenian Genocide.[19]

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.[20][21]

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.

Uygur has been critic of Turkey's autocratic president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.[22]

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. [23] 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.[24] The five pillars include higher wages, Medicare for All, Green New Deal, College for All, and Ending the Corruption.[25]

The Young Turks

Uygur in 2016

Uygur in 2016

Uygur created the talk show The Young Turks with the goal of starting a liberal-leaning political and entertainment show.[6][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, 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.[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]


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,[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.[4] 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]


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

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

On January 23, 2017, three days after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, Uygur co-founded 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[46] such as Joe Manchin,[47] Joe Crowley,[48] and Dianne Feinstein.[49]

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".[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.[51]

Personal life

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

He is married to Wendy Lang, a marriage and family therapist, and they have two children.[56]


Citation Linkweb.archive.orgCenk Uygur Goes #OffTheGrid – Jesse Ventura Off The Grid – Ora TV. YouTube. April 10, 2014. Archived from the original on December 28, 2015. Retrieved September 11, 2015.
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Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgFormed the Justice Democrats
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Citation Linkweb.archive.orgRudow, Bryce (January 30, 2014). "Cenk Uygur Finally Opens Up About Keith Olbermann: "He's Clearly Got Clinical Issues"". The Daily Banter. Archived from the original on December 14, 2016. Retrieved December 9, 2016.
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Citation Linkweb.archive.orgBrian Stelter (July 20, 2011). "Sharpton Appears to Win Anchor Spot on MSNBC". The New York Times. Archived from the original on March 1, 2017. Retrieved February 26, 2017.
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Citation Linkweb.archive.orgStelter, Brian (September 20, 2011). "Current TV Hires Cenk Uygur". The New York Times. Archived from the original on September 22, 2011. Retrieved September 20, 2011.
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Citation Linkweb.archive.orgMadlena, Chavala (April 26, 2010). "Cenk Uygur on the success of The Young Turks". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on September 28, 2013. Retrieved May 27, 2010.
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Citation Linkweb.archive.orgHammer, Andrea K. (May 25, 2010). "Hey, How'd You Draw 250 Million Viewers to Your Web Show, The Young Turks?". Archived from the original on May 29, 2010. 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
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Citation Linkweb.archive.orgTolan, Casey (October 21, 2017). "Liberal online news host Cenk Uygur considering Senate run in California". The Mercury News. Archived from the original on July 12, 2019. Retrieved July 11, 2019.
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Citation Linkweb.archive.orgCenk Uygur (October 18, 1991). "Where are the White Christians?". The Daily Pennsylvanian. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved June 15, 2014.
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Citation Linkwww.dailypennsylvanian.comDrew W Zoller (April 25, 1991). "Turk, Armenian dispute raised at SAC". The Daily Pennsylvanian. Retrieved July 22, 2011.
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Citation Linkweb.archive.org"Cenk Uygur". The Huffington Post. Archived from the original on February 22, 2011. Retrieved February 28, 2011.
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Citation Linkdiskordchicago.comSiddiqi, 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.
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Citation Linkwww.confabb.comUygur, Cenk (c. 2007). "User Profile for Cenk Uygur (cuygur)". Confabb. Archived from the original on July 18, 2011. Retrieved February 28, 2011.
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Citation Linkweb.archive.orgCenk Uygur (November 8, 1991). "For Feminists". The Daily Pennsylvanian. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved June 15, 2014.
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Citation Linkthedp.comUygur, Cenk (November 20, 1991). "Historical Fact or Falsehood?". The Daily Pennsylvanian. Archived from the original on June 20, 2012. Retrieved June 20, 2012.
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Citation Linkwww.salon.com"Letters to the Editor". Salon. June 16, 1999. Archived from the original on April 29, 2015.
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Citation Linktytnetwork.com"Rescinding Daily Pennsylvanian Article". TYT Network. Archived from the original on September 13, 2016. Retrieved November 3, 2016.
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Citation Linkwww.youtube.comThe Young Turks, YouTube, May 13, 2019, retrieved August 23, 2019
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Citation Linkweb.archive.orgRampell, Ed. "Cenk Uygur". The Progressive. 76 (8). Archived from the original on December 3, 2013. Retrieved June 30, 2013.
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