The Young Turks
|You gotta spin it to win it|
|Stop the presses!|
|We want pictures|
The Young Turks, or TYT, is an online progressive news show founded by internet hothead pundit Cenk Uygur featuring commentary, analysis, and snarky critiques of conservative and authoritarian politics and personalities.
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. CurrentTV was shut down and sold to Al Jazeera, but TYT is still video broadcast exclusively on YouTube.
TYT was the first daily streaming online talk show, having begun in 2006. Since then, they've added a number of YouTube shows to their "TYT Network", including Aggressive Progressives, TYT Politics, TYT Sports, ThinkTank, The Jimmy Dore Show, Kyle Kulinski, and others. TYT remains their flagship show, and as of 2017, it's also audio broadcast on SiriusXM radio.
It's pretty impressive; no web "news" company can compare to what they've done. But not everyone's impressed; Uygur's bombastic personality has inspired a legion of (largely conservative-friendly) detractors and critics, like Sargon of Akkad, who dismisses the show as inhabiting the "progressive echo chamber", and The Daily Caller, which spread rumors that Uygur's Wolf PAC was a moneymaking scam. Even liberal New Atheists like Jerry Coyne and Sam Harris have clashed with TYT over what they feel is the show's "smug and arrogant form of regressive Leftism". TYT's loud, in-your-face style has prompted some to disparage them as a mirror image of far right conservative political outlets.
The Young Turks show streams live for two hours a day. Regular panel anchors are CEO and founder Uygur, Ana Kasparian, and John Iadarola. Panel contributors have included film critic Ben Mankiewicz, comedian Jimmy Dore, political correspondent Michael Shure, producer Jayar Jackson, satirist Brett Erlich, and others.
The Young Turks are arch-left by American standards:
- Back when they were just a talk show, they were among the very few news outlets saying don't go into Iraq before the war officially began. Their first real claim to fame was Uygur's ripping of USA Today for parroting George W. Bush's talking points about the war.
- While Obama was in office, the show was extremely critical of his administration's progressive shortcomings, decrying its conciliatory attitude towards the GOP, and condemning the Democratic Party as being hopelessly compromised by big money donors.
- In 2011, TYT devoted heavy coverage to Occupy Wall Street with Uygur making impassioned speeches in support of the 99% movement and formally launching Wolf PAC at one of the protest demonstrations.
- During the 2016 Democratic Party presidential primary, TYT went all-in for Bernie Sanders. Much debate and analysis on the show centered around why "corporate Democrat" Hillary Clinton would fall far short of liberal ideals and only serve the status quo establishment. The Sanders campaign's "political revolution" was right in line with TYT's progressive bent, and Uygur sometimes spoke at Sanders rallies on behalf of the candidate. After Bernie lost the primary, TYT officially endorsed Clinton in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, saying the dangers of Trump were "too great to risk". This angered staunch Clinton supporters who felt TYT's previous anti-Clinton, pro-Sanders position had harmed their candidate. The majority of TYT hosts resigned themselves to voting for Clinton as the lesser of two evils, with the exception of Jimmy Dore and Kyle Kulinski, who both voted for Jill Stein. Dore stated after the election that he felt a Trump presidency would bring about a unification of Republicans and Democrats against Trump.[note 1]
- TYT did some impressive boots-on-the-ground coverage of the Dakota Access Pipeline and Standing Rock protests via their correspondent Jordan Chariton, who literally encamped with Standing Rock Sioux and pipeline protesters and activists.
- Both TYT and "TYT Politics" (a TYT subchannel) have gleefully hammered a variety of established conservative and right-wing figures like Newt Gingrich, Bill O'Reilly, Roger Ailes, and the Koch brothers, as well as relative newcomers like Tomi Lahren, white supremacist Richard Spencer, and Milo Yiannopoulos.
- Needless to say, the Trump administration was a frequent (pretty much daily) target of the show. They refused to refer to Trump as "President" and their swag website sells "Jurassic Prick" merchandise depicting Trump as a tiny-handed T-Rex character.
TYT stories run the gamut, from Michael Moore-esque humor to a center-left version of Truthout, but always with a progressive slant. Topics that Uygur and company take on, in no particular order:
- Climate change and environmentalism
- Abortion, contraception, and reproductive rights
- Civil rights and Black Lives Matter
- The "War on Drugs",
- U.S. militarism and imperialism
- Corporate power and legal "personhood"
- Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories
- Christian fundamentalism and Islamism (particularly Saudi Arabia)
- Sexism, sexual morality and homophobia
- The privatization of public services
- The mainstream media
- The influence of money in politics
TYT's coverage of news occurring outside the US has tended to be haphazard, such as in 2014 when they mistakenly referred to British Youth BNP leader Jack Renshaw as a "conservative", confusing the far right for the center-right. More recently, their Brexit news coverage has been better received, although critics still see foreign affairs as TYT's weak point.
During a remote broadcast from the 2016 Republican National Convention, Alex Jones and Roger Stone famously crashed the TYT set waving a T-shirt emblazoned with a Shepard Fairey-style parody image of Bill Clinton and the slogan "Rape," igniting an aggressive shoving match, the video of which went semi-viral. At the height of the shoving, yelling, slap-fest, Jimmy Dore can be observed spitting water at Jones, and Ana Kasparian can be heard to shout "get off the stage you fat fuck!". Hordes of users online quickly criticized Kasparian, labeling her outburst as fat shaming and hypocritical, and the story enjoyed a burst of popularity among conservative YouTubers.
In spite of being nominally very left-wing (in the US political landscape) and supporting Bernie Sanders (a candidate whose labor plan includes punishing companies that refuse to recognize unions), when some crew members decided to unionize, the TYT leadership refused to recognize the union.
Refusing to recognize unions is one the traditional methods favored by corporations to crack down on organized labor (along with hiring thugs like the Pinkertons or asking for the government's help). However, Cenk Uygur urged his employees to not unionize rather than outright refusing to do so. His argument against it reads, in an email to staffers:
[T]here is no magic that creates more money by having a union, especially at a company that does not yet make a profit. One of the top concerns I have is that having a union will cost us too much money — and that will not only endanger the company but also leave less for all of us.
It is worth mentioning that Uygur publicly contests the version of the story as published in corporate media while also factually claiming that IATSE endorsed his primary opponent for the US House of Representatives, Christy Smith, in California's 25th Congressional District. The implication here is that IATSE only cared about unions within TYT as a political tool to hurt Uygur's chances to be elected, since TYT has existed since 2002 and unions were never a controversy for the employees working for Uygur.
TYT has often drifted dangerously close to supporting conspiracy theories regarding the dangers of GMO foods and the culpability of Monsanto, prompting critics to say their position "is less based on the science and more based on their distrust of corporations".
For example, in a 2017 response to Monsanto's statement that glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans according to an EPA report, Kasparian hedged: "but also keep in mind that someone who was working within the EPA at the time that that statement was released had very cozy ties to Monsanto ... and also that they were working with scientists in order to manipulate the outcomes of certain scientific research." Earlier, in 2012, Kasparian said: "I think that it's a little naïve to make the assumption that scientists won't get corrupted by money because scientists obviously have an incentive to support GMOs."
Uygur has also expressed disagreement with the current scientific consensus on GMOs:
Beware of people telling you online how the true scientific position is to be pro-GMOs, pro-Monsanto and pro- these chemicals that they're putting in there that they claim coincidentally people got cancer from.
It didn't help that one video's clickbait title, Monsanto Giving People Cancer?, seemed to appeal directly to the anti-GMO crowd, and that they favorably interviewed the producer of an anti-GMO propaganda film GMO OMG.
Cenk means battle
More politely described as an "idealist who sticks to his guns", Uygur has a reputation as someone who likes to fight. In fact, his own father named him after the Turkish word for "battle". In 2016, he was kicked off an American Airlines flight after arguing with a supervisor about delays. His rise as a "righteous ranter" and pioneer of new media was the subject of a 2015 documentary called "Mad as Hell", named for a quote by the iconic fictional TV hothead Howard Beale in the 1976 film Network.
Uygur got his start in TV with a public access cable show in the mid-1990s called The Young Turk Show. He was a Republican at the time, so the show followed the typical right-wing talk-radio formula of a combative host lambasting President Clinton and Democrats while butting heads with callers who don't agree with him. But somebody liked his style, and he got a job with a local Miami TV news magazine show. Once while conducting an interview with veteran TV news reporter Connie Chung, he introduced her as “the irrepressibly sexy Connie Chung”, which at least one detractor has characterized as "sexual harassment". 
In the late 1990s, Uygur got disillusioned with the Republican Party. He explained his earlier flirtation with the GOP saying, “you could be, back then, a reasonable Republican”. He adopted a progressive Democratic stance, and earned a stint on MSNBC in 2011, before being dropped and replaced by Al Sharpton. Depending on whom you ask, he was fired for either being too critical of Democrats or gesticulating too much while criticizing Democrats.
Armenian genocide denial, retraction, and acceptance
People have pointed out that the name of the show "The Young Turks" is the same name used by a Turkish political movement from 1915 to 1918 that committed acts of genocide against the Armenian people. All too often, those of Turkish citizenship or family origin tend to downplay the genocide, or simply not want to talk about it. Uygur is of Turkish descent, and has come under heavy criticism for statements he made in 1991 and 1999 denying that the genocide happened. In more recent years, he just avoided the question.
Uygur had said TYT's show name was not intended to have any connection to the Turkish political movement, and in 2016, two days before the 101st anniversary of the Armenian genocide, Uygur 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, Uygur 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."
When TYT reported on the persecution of Muslims in Myanmar and then Turkish president Erdoğan correctly labeling it as genocide, Uygur was the first to accuse Erdoğan of hypocrisy for the latter refusing to recognize the Armenian Genocide. Uygur said:
They targeted an ethnic minority, and marched them off the country. What does that sound like?
If that wasn't clear enough, he continued:
The temerity of Erdoğan to mention the word genocide when Turkey doesn't recognize the Armenian genocide, where an ethnic minority was targeted and driven out of the country, that's an irony too ridiculous for Erdoğan to bring out.
The PAC to end all PACs
Uygur has his own political action committee: "Wolf PAC", which he flogs heavily on TYT. Uygur founded it to get money out of politics as a response to the Citizens United ruling, with the ultimate goal being to amend the U.S. Constitution to limit the amount of money that any one person or organization can donate. Wolf PAC's “Convention of States” plan calls for a constitutional convention to draft an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to that end. So far, Vermont, California, Illinois, New Jersey, and Rhode Island are all on the board.
Unlike, say, the Club for Growth, Wolf PAC doesn't raise money and then give it to politicians in the form of campaign donations. Instead, they raise money to pay the salaries of lobbyists who work to convince state legislatures to pass resolutions calling for an amendment to end big money in politics. And sometimes they buy campaign materials for local Democratic candidates, for example, spending more than $50,000 on direct mail to promote Democratic candidate Greg Cava in a 2017 Connecticut state senate race.
Naturally, conservative opponents have labeled Wolf PAC as "anti-free speech",  and right-wing Redditors and right-wing outlets like The Daily Caller have even pushed a rumor that Wolf PAC is a scam and a grift designed to line the pockets of Uygur and his pals. Citing public records on OpenSecrets.org that identify nearly two-thirds of the organization's expenditures going to salary and overhead, these mostly right-wing detractors erroneously claim the salaries are being paid to Uygur and his staff rather than Wolf PAC lobbyists.
In January 2017, Uygur announced the formation of the Justice Democrats, a group that wants to move the Democratic Party in more Bernie Sanders-like progressive, social democratic directions by running candidates in primaries against "corporate Democrats" such as Joe Manchin, Claire McCaskill, and Dianne Feinstein.
Uygur resigned from Justice Democrats on December 22, 2017 after blog posts he had written in the early 2000s described as "disturbingly sexist and racist" were unearthed. Uygur apologized for the posts, explaining that he wrote them back when he was a conservative, saying: "If you read that today, what I wrote 18 years ago, and you’re offended by it, you’re 100 percent right. And anyone who is subjected to that material, I apologize to. And I deeply regret having written that stuff when I was a different guy." However, TYT continued to interview Justice Democrats, champion their candidates, and give as much air time to their platforms as possible, including to other progressives who aren't affiliated with Justice Democrats, all the way through the 2018 midterm elections.
2014 feud with Sam Harris
Uygur collided with New Atheism figures Jerry Coyne and Sam Harris over the question of whether the causes of religious extremist terrorism could be traced to Muslim fundamentalism or blowback from Western Imperialist actions. The following points emerged over the course of many debates between Harris and Uygur:
|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||Uygur 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 and blockaded Gaza live under what many consider to be Israeli-imposed apartheid. Uygur also notes that with the growing ethnocentric, unjust sentiment and practice 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, Uygur 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:
- Left Islam at a young age.
- Criticizes belief in religion.
- Reports on the crimes of terrorist groups such as Boko Haram and DAESH and did so before any other mainstream news outlets.
- Relentlessly criticizes both the scripture and its fundamentalist practitioners.
- Keith Olbermann, another bombastic progressive who invites controversy just as much as he reports on it.
- Kyle Kulinski, another co-founder of Justice Democrats and a former member of their network.
- Dave Rubin, who was formerly with TYT (yes, really).
- Jimmy Dore, who used to work for TYT and host his own show, Aggressive Progressives.
- How's that working out for you, Jimmy?
- Youtube: Cenk Uygur on the End of The Young Turks on Current
- The Young Turks: The Young Turks and the TYT Network
- Chavala Madlena (April 26, 2010). "Cenk Uygur on the success of The Young Turks". The Guardian.
- Shows TYTnetwork.com
- The Young Turks (TYT) Announces It's Back On SiriusXM Empty Lighthouse Magazine
- Sargon of Akkad Twitter
- PAC Founded By Young Turks Host Cenk Uygur Spends Absurd Amount Of Budget On Operating Costs Daily Caller
- The Young Turks lose it over the election Jerry Coyne
- The Young Turks Really, Really Don’t Want You to Compare Them to Breitbart. And yet… Mother Jones
- Cenk officially becomes the Rush Limbaugh of the Far Left DailyKOS
- Host Bios TYTnetwork.com
- Mediaite: Cenk Uygur: President Obama ‘Doesn’t Have The Guts’ To Fight For Contraceptive Mandate 8 February 2012
- The Young Turks at Occupy Wall Street Reports TheTruthDenied.com
- Cenk Announces Wolf-PAC.com at Occupy Wall Street YouTube
- Why The Young Turks, and their viewers, love Bernie Sanders Washington Post
- NOW the TYT and Cenk Ugyur endorses Hillary Clinton? Too Late! Daily KOS
- Voting For The Lesser Of Two Evils In 2016 TYT on YouTube
- The Core Issue in the Dakota Pipeline Fight is Sioux Rights, Not Oil New York Times
- Tomi Lahren's Back And Worse Than Before YouTube
- Jurassic Prick T shirt ShopTYT.com
- YouTube: TeaPartyReport
- YouTube: Acronym TV
- YouTube: Drug War Failure In Mexico
- "Conservative Threatens Homosexual Dog" TYT's official channel
- Alex Jones crashes TYT set, a fight ensues YouTube
- I would shame Alex Jones any day, in anyway[sic]. You come to our stage and interrupt our show for publicity, you get called out. Ana Kasparian, Twitter
- Ana Kasparian fat shames, Jimmy Dore spits in Alex Jones' face during Cenk's meltdown
- IATSE launches drive to unionize TYT
- Cenk Uygur's urges employees not to unionize
- TYT refuses to recognize employees' union
- Cenk Uygur's tweet addressing the problem
- Endorsements for Christy Smith for Congress
- The Young Turks get the science wrong on GM food Skepacabra: Science, Pseudoscience, and just plain nonsense
- Monsanto Giving People Cancer? The Young Turks (YouTube). May 27, 2017.
- The Young Turks are Morons of the Highest Calibre Myles Power (YouTube). May 30, 2017.
- Genetically Modified Food Label Initiative Failing - Why? The Young Turks (YouTube). November 1, 2012.
- Interview - Actress and GMO OMG Executive Producer Jill Latiano Howerton TYT Interviews (YouTube). November 11, 2013.
- Liberal Host Cenk Uygur Livestreams Himself Getting Kicked Off American Airlines Flight Mediaite
- The Young Turks' online news host attempting a 'hostile takeover' of Democratic Party ABCnews.com
- The Righteous Ranter, Howling at Left and Right. ‘Mad as Hell,’ a Documentary About the Pundit New York Times
- Old Turk: Web Pundit Cenk Uygur’s Journey Chronicled in Mad as Hell Village Voice
- Cenk Uygur is crazy Someinconvenientfacts.wordpress.com
- "Cenk Uygur: Al Sharpton Is Replacing Me Because He's Friendlier To Obama (VIDEO)", HuffPo, updated 9.23.11.
- The Daily Pennsylvanian: Historical Fact or Falsehood? 20 November 1991
- SalonPunk Rock Hall of Fame Awards 1999 9 June 1999
- YouTube: Cenk Uygur Fails To Address Past Comments Denying The Armenian Genocide At The Progressive Caucus Meeting Of The California Democratic Party
- Reddit.com I am Cenk Uygur… AMA
- The Young Turks Network Blog: 
- Wolf PAC: About
- PAC Spending Big Money to Rid Political System of Big Money Hartford Courant
- Anti-Free Speech Wolf PAC Spends Big in 32nd District Special Election Daily Ruction
- 2016 Wolf PAC expenditures, OpenSecrets.org.
- Subreddit r/EnoughSandersSpam
- Progressives launch ‘Justice Democrats' to counter party's ‘corporate' legislators Washington Post, January 2017
- Cenk Uygur Launches A "New Wing" Of Democratic Party: Justice Democrats RealClearPolitics
- "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" @JusticeDems on Twitter
- Joe Concha 'Young Turks' founder apologizes for 'ignorant' past blog posts about women The Hill, December, 2017
- Even Other Terrorists Denounce Taliban School Attacks In Pakistan