The Young Turks

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The Young Turds Turks, or TYT, is an edgy scandal rag online progressive news show founded by internet pundit Cenk Uygur. In some aspects, they are a mirror image of the right-wing talk universe. The Young Turks also covers topics of prurient interest: Cenk and his production crew spend a lot of time talking about sex.

Beginning as a radio program (hosted by Uygur in 2002), TYT jumped to CurrentTV and covered the 2012 presidential election. Among the more notable moments was an interview with Andrew Breitbart mere days before he died, and breaking the news on Michael Hastings' death in 2013. The channel itself was shut down and sold to Al Jazeera,[1] but TYT is still broadcast exclusively on YouTube.[2] It's pretty impressive; no web "news" company can compare to what they've done. Too bad it's an echo chamber.[3]

Notable hosts include the CEO and founder Cenk Uygur, "Professor" Ana Kasparian,[note 1] film critic Ben Mankiewicz, and comedian Jimmy Dore.


[edit] Cenk Uygur

"Oh… I'm on RationalWiki? That's… great…"

Cenk had a rinky-dink public access show in the mid-1990s called The Young Turk Show. He was belligerent and arrogant even back then. People would call into the show and give him a piece of their minds. Most butted heads with him (this is back when Cenk was a Republican and really despised President Clinton). But somebody liked his style, and Cenk made it onto a local Miami news network. He even made a pass at veteran TV news reporter Connie ChungWikipedia's W.svg (while briefly interviewing her on the street).

Cenk also had a stint on MSNBC in 2011, before being dropped and replaced by Al Sharpton.[4] Depending on who you ask, he was fired for either being too critical of Democrats or gesticulating too much while criticizing Democrats.

The documentary Mad as Hell (2014)[5] showcases Cenk's drive and impressive ego. He rallies his show with football coach speeches, and tells his audience that TYT is "the best" or "#1" in ratings. He basically treats it as his favorite sports team. (Fun Fact: Cenk’s own father named him after the Turkish word for "battle".)

[edit] Political positions

The Young Turks is arch-left by American standards. The show is extremely critical of the Obama administration, decrying the conciliatory attitude towards the GOP as more-or-less becoming the GOP Lite—complicit rather than weak-willed.[6]

TYT's politics run the gamut, from Michael Moore-esque humor[7] to a hard-left version of Truthout.[8] Cenk and co. are highly critical of, in no particular order:

TYT tries to cover foreign affairs, albeit in an absent-minded, Americentric sort of way. (No surprise there.) One example is their story concerning the plot of Legally Blonde 2 the Youth BNP leader Jack Renshaw and his bi-curious Rottweiler. TYT referred to Renshaw as a "conservative";[11] this is false, as the BNP do not ascribe to any tangible force of British conservatism (the old guard was pro-fascist) and have even supported some left-wing economic causes, such as nationalisation, when it suited them.[12] Unbeknownst to Cenk, LGBT rights is not a right-wing obsession in the UK like it is in the US, and the culture war is not being fought as harshly: David Cameron as leader of the Conservative Party actually supported same-sex marriage when he was Prime Minister.

[edit] Terrorism: Dogma or Blowback?

A lot of the controversy surrounding TYT can be traced back to the source, Cenk Uygur, and his opposition to the War on Terror. Over the course of many interviews with Islam critic Sam Harris, Cenk debated the exact causes of religious extremism. (Hence the griping about New Atheists.)

Issue Uygur Harris
Islam Uygur maintains that Harris contrives his critiques of Islam to demonize Muslims as a whole while giving a comparative pass to Christians and to Judaism. He further argues that Harris is pretty easy on Christians notwithstanding that there are many passages in the Bible advocating violence. Uygur argues that fundamentalists are not the ones who adhere most closely to their religion's fundamentals. Harris claims Uygur misrepresents his views on Muslims by conflating his critiques of Islam, the religion, with Muslims. Essentially, where the two disagree is Harris claims fundamentalist Muslims do far less cherry picking than the moderates. Islam has specific doctrines that allow for, if not outright encourage, Muslim terrorism, while Uygur counters by saying many instances of modern Muslim terrorism are blowback for American and Western imperialism; that political grievances are delivered in a religious package. Harris, however, counters that the Qur'an is a more uniformly militaristic book.
Israel Cenk brings up Harris' defense of Israel's government and its oppression of Palestinians; Harris argues that the elected leadership in Gaza, Hamas, makes peace less tenable. To which Uygur replies that Benjamin Netanyahu's heavy-handed, and trigger-happy conduct is unacceptable and that the Gaza bombardment in 2014 was intended to break up the Fatah-Hamas unity government. That Israel actually wants the Palestinians politically fractured as an excuse to avoid negotiating land for peace. However, the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank[13] and blockaded Gaza[14] live under what many consider to be Israeli-imposed apartheid. Uygur also notes that with the growing ethnocentric, unjust sentiment and practice[15] within Israeli society and the semantic gymnastics often resorted to by Israeli government spokespeople to justify, perpetuate, and intensify the occupation of Palestine. A true liberal democracy would include the Palestinians, not deprive them of basic rights. Harris' response is that Arab Muslims living in Israel enjoy considerably more rights than they would have anywhere else in the region, including full voting rights and guaranteed freedom of religion. Harris insists he does not condone the actions of Netanyahu's government, but he maintains that Israel "looks like a model" for pluralistic, peace-loving democracy when compared to Hamas.
Terrorism For obvious reasons, both Harris and Uygur oppose terrorists ever obtaining nuclear weapons. Essentially, where they disagree is that Uygur feels the "greater sin", so to speak, is gunboat diplomacy and Western imperialism. The Western destabilization of Muslim countries, such as Iraq, helps to radicalize the formerly secular population who wrap their deeply-political grievances in religious rhetoric. Moreover, while acknowledging that international terrorism is committed mostly by Muslims, Cenk notes that right-wing Christian terrorists and militia movements have been identified as more dangerous and prevalent in the United States than Muslim terrorists. Harris believes that fundamentalist religion is the "greater sin." Harris notes that most terrorism in the world is conducted by Muslims and that the rationales for their terrorist attacks are expressed in religious terms, such as belief in the glory of martyrdom and the necessity of armed jihad.

Kyle Kulinski, host of Secular Talk and TYT affiliate, has noted that the biggest divide between progressives like Uygur and New Atheists such as Harris is that the latter focus more on religious dogma, and the former focus more on foreign policy grievances.

Some Harris fans decry Uygur as an apologist for Islam. Some Uygur fans find this implausible, given that Uygur: 1. left Islam at a young age, 2. criticizes belief in religion 3. reports on the crimes of terrorist groups such as Boko Haram and Daesh and did so before any other mainstream news outlets, and 4. relentlessly criticizes both the scripture and its fundamentalist practitioners.[16]

[edit] Armenian Genocide shiftiness

Cenk Uygur, who is Turkish-American, has flirted with Armenian Genocide denial in 1991[17] and 1999,[18] something that the Armenian-American community protested over as recently as 2012.[19][20][21] Which isn't that damn surprising considering he named the show after the the Turkish regime which orchestrated the ethnic cleansing of 1.5 million Armenians in WWI. Cenk claims that the show's title is from the dictionary definition meaning "young progressives looking to overthrow an established system," though he did not directly address his past writings.[22]

In 2009, Cenk and his co-host Ana Kasparian (Armenian-American herself) appeared side-by-side on RT discussing Turkish-Armenian reconciliation, with Kasparian expressing support for the idea that Turkey should reconsider the genocide.[23] Kasparian later defended Cenk on Twitter, saying "that op-ed is from 11 years ago" and that "people change their political opinions all the time."[24]

In 2007 and 2011, Cenk has compared Erdoğan's denial of the Armenian Genocide with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's denial of the Holocaust.[25][26]

During a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" (2013), Cenk opted not to answer the most upvoted question in the thread, namely his opinion on the tangibility of an Armenian Genocide.[27]

In 2015, on the 100th anniversary of the atrocity, The Young Turks once again refused to broach the Armenian Genocide. They chose instead to talk about such pertinent topics as "Popeye's offers pregnant woman her job back" as well as "Hot new restaurant features half-naked men as their special." However, Kasparian did dedicate a video about it on her channel, as did TYT affiliate Kyle Kulinski of Secular Talk. Cenk himself had no part in those aforementioned videos since he was in another state at the time.

A year later on April 1st, 2016, while discussing racial appropriation on the show, Kasparian mentioned the Armenian Genocide in Cenk's presence, though he didn't comment on it, nor did he seem upset by the discussion.[28] Just two days before the 101st anniversary, Cenk posted a retraction of "the statements I made in my Daily Pennsylvanian article from 1991," as well as "the statements I made in a letter to the editor I wrote in 1999 on the same issue," formally retracting his earlier denial. Regarding his silence on the topic throughout the years, Cenk has said that "I am going to refrain from commenting on the topic of the Armenian Genocide, which I do not know nearly enough about."[29]

Over a month later, Ana Kasparian aired an entire segment on TYT regarding the topic when the German parliament voted on recognizing the Armenian Genocide. The video itself even went so far as including graphic images of the event, with Kasparian repeatedly and formally denouncing the genocide.[30]

[edit] The PAC to end all PACs

Although many would think journalists should report, not make news, Cenk has his own political action committee: "Wolf PAC", which he flogs heavily on TYT.[31] Cenk started it as a response to the Citizens United ruling, with the ultimate goal being to amend the U.S. Constitution to again limit the amount of money that any one person or organization can donate. As of this writing, Vermont, California, Illinois, New Jersey, and Rhode Island are all on the board for the convention.

Sadly, Wolf PAC is a grift. Check their open secrets record: 58% of their funding goes to salary and then another 20% goes to overhead. Very little goes elsewhere.[32]

[edit] Videos

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

[edit] Notes

  1. Fun Fact: Kasparian is somehow allowed to teach a journalism class at Cal State-Northridge despite the fact that she doesn't have a doctorate, only a Bachelor's in Journalism and a Masters in Political Science. Here is the class syllabus from 2013. And here is her RateMyProfessor page.

[edit] References

  1. Youtube: Cenk Uygur on the End of The Young Turks on Current
  2. The Young Turks: The Young Turks and the TYT Network
  3. Rensin, Emmett, "The smug style in American liberalism", Vox 4.21.16. When Vox is calling people smug liberals, you know those are some seriously smug liberals.
  4. "Cenk Uygur: Al Sharpton Is Replacing Me Because He's Friendlier To Obama (VIDEO)", HuffPo, updated 9.23.11.
  5. Mad As Hell IMDB
  6. Mediaite: Cenk Uygur: President Obama ‘Doesn’t Have The Guts’ To Fight For Contraceptive Mandate 8 February 2012
  7. YouTube: TeaPartyReport
  8. YouTube: Acronym TV
  9. YouTube: Drug War Failure In Mexico
  10. CHESLEA CLINTON: HOT?, 1.3.08. This preposterous video, in which they talk about whether or not they would bang Chelsea Clinton.
  11. "Conservative Threatens Homosexual Dog", from TYT's official channel. The story is still fucking hilarious, though.
  12. "British jobs must be for British workers!", from the official BNP website. The original "British jobs for British workers!" slogan came from Gordon Brown and the British Labour Party, which clearly shows which demographic these far-right groups are actually appealing to.
  16. Even Other Terrorists Denounce Taliban School Attacks In Pakistan
  17. The Daily Pennsylvanian: Historical Fact or Falsehood? 20 November 1991
  18. Salon: Punk Rock Hall of Fame Awards 1999 9 June 1999
  19. ANCA-WR Open Letter to CA Democratic Party] (February 9, 2012) Armenian National Committee of America — Western Region
  20. Glendale News-Press: Armenian Genocide resolution gets support from L.A. County Democratic Party
  22. YouTube: Cenk Uygur Fails To Address Past Comments Denying The Armenian Genocide At The Progressive Caucus Meeting Of The California Democratic Party
  23. RT via YouTube: [1]
  24. Twitter: Ana Kasparian 30 June 2010
  25. Huffington Post: [2]
  27. I am Cenk Uygur… AMA
  28. Black Woman Scolds White Man For Dreads April 01, 2016, YouTube. The Young Turks
  29. The Young Turks Network Blog: [3]
  30. Germany Acknowledges The Genocide. The Young Turks. June 2, 2016. Retrieved 03 June 2016. Attention: some bits are NSFW.
  31. Wolf PAC: About
  32. 2016 Wolf PAC expenditures,
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