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Creator / Cenk Uygur

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A rising political commentator/pundit and analyzer, the Turkish-American Cenk Kadir Uygur (born March 21, 1970) is the main host and creator of The Young Turks on YouTube, who wanted to start a liberal political and entertainment show. Born in Istanbul, his Muslim family emigrated to New Jersey when he was eight, but he switched from Muslim to agnostic later in his life, and he worked as an assistant attorney after graduating from Pennsylvania University. Starting off as a Northeast moderate Republican, Cenk subsequently switched into a liberal/progressive, but he says he retains most of his old stances. His most defining view is that multinational corporations have bribed Congress, manipulating the political system through the media and think tanks in order to shift the spectrum further right-wing, while making money off the backs of the middle and working class. Unsurprisingly, he is not a fan of such an endeavor.


By and large he views both the Democrats and Republicans as jointly-owned subsidiaries of those same multinational corporations, Cenk essentially views the Democrats as Dirty Cowards and believes they are capitulating to this process, but he gives credit where it's due. He holds a particular soft spot in that towards Alan Grayson, Russ Feingold, Anthony Wiener and Bill Clinton, though he still gives Clinton flak for allegedly contributing to the economic recession and allowing corporate control of the media. His view on the Republicans is even harsher, but he still has a soft spot for old-school Republicans like Alan Simpson, who he believes are dead wrong on the policies, but right on the issues. He also believes that the mainstream media deliberately leads to an unwillingness to genuinely and forcefully challenge orthodox political positions and conventional wisdom. He has also argued that modern American political journalism fails to meet its obligation of reporting on the news in an objective manner, preferring a neutral approach to news stories, so as not to be accused of taking sides, even when there's already a clear distinction between fact and fiction.


To say that he disliked George W. Bush's administration would be a massive understatement. He viewed Bush as a Tyrant Takes the Helm type, with Vice President Cheney as the Man Behind the Man. Although Cenk was initially positive of Barack Obama, he quickly took an increasingly critical attitude towards Obama's policies, believing the policies and initiatives of Obama's administration were shifting further to the right and that Obama made unnecessary and preemptive tangible and ideological concessions to his opponents. On October 21, 2010, he became an official contributor and substitute anchor to MSNBC, filling in for Dylan Ratigan and Ed Schultz, among others. On January 21 of the following year, Cenk hosted his own segment on the 6 p.m. Eastern slot for MSNBC, after Keith Olbermann parted ways with the network. He earned immense ratings, enough that MSNBC beat CNN and Fox News by June, but his contract with MSNBC ended after he turned down an offer that involved more money, but less prominence. According to Cenk, the head of MSNBC told him "people in Washington were concerned about your tone".

Cenk is now running a campaign for Congress in California's 25th District, representing Santa Clarita, Lancaster, Palmdale and parts of Simi Valley. He is one of the top contenders in the race, competing with Democrat Christy Smith and Republicans Mike Garcia and Steve Knight. After Katie Hill (the previous representative from the district) resigned, he is running two campaigns at once - one to complete her term in the 116th congress and one to succeed her as a member of the 117th congress.

Tropes related to Cenk Uygur include:

  • Actual Pacifist: He does not condone or endorse violence of any kind.
  • Big Eater: A Running Gag on the show is his love of food. Lampshaded when he claims that he's going to "get ripped," and Ana calls him out.
    Ana: "You can't go to the food truck and get two different types of grilled cheeses and tater tots. You can't have that anymore."
    Cenk: "Let's see what happens."
  • Blatant Lies: In defense of Black Lives Matter movement against a comment made by Sarah Palin, he claims that Sarah Palin speaks of Black Lives Matter supporters as "not people" and that there is no evidence of Black Lives Matter supporters shouting "death to cops!" during their rallies. Even though the recorded statement says "peaceful", and YouTube videos showing contrary to the second claim have been around for years. Even viewers who would otherwise never think of defending Sarah Palin in a million years (who constitute the majority of his viewership to begin with) are astonished by his willingness to blatantly put words into someone else's mouth just to make a point.
  • Broken Pedestal:
    • MSNBC, after being told to him by its head, "We are the establishment."
    • Al Jazeera, after finding out that they published more pro-war arguments calling for strikes against Syria.
  • Capitalism Is Bad: Well, yes and no; Cenk is a supporter of Democratic Socialism (or at the very least Social Democracy) and is never afraid to call out the corrupt practices of billionaires and corporations, but he also believes that capitalism has done some good things for the world and should not be abandoned entirely.
  • Catchphrase: So many.
    • "OF COOOOURSE!!!" (His way of saying "duh!" or "no shit!")
    • "Elbow from the sky!"
    • "Sad day for you."
    • "How's that X working out for Y?"
    • "I jump in it!"
    • "Down goes X!" (Usually after playing a stock audio clip of someone saying, "Ladies and gentlemen... we got 'em!")
    • "But are they not merciful!"
    • "Let him/her go!"
    • "That's awesome."
    • "Wa siktir!" (Turkish for holy sh*t)
    • "It's about the money, Lebowski!"
    • "That's not the bug, that's the feature."
    • "Wrong again, Bob."
    • "Tick tick tick tiiiiiick" (imitating a clock, usually to say someone or something's time is running out)
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Cenk routinely makes suggestive comments about attractive women and has a top ten list of hottest celebrities even though he is happily married and makes it a point of pride to stand up for what he considers to be women's rights.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He can be quite sardonic when he needs to be.
  • Defector from Decadence: Inverted; in his own words and his point of view, the Republicans left him when they became extremist to him. Prior to 2000, Cenk was a Republican, but then identified as Independent before officially becoming Democrat after the 2016 Election.
  • Dirty Coward: How he views most Democrats, but he rationalizes it as Obfuscating Stupidity, since he views them in the same complicit light as the Republicans.
    • This is also his view on Islamic Fundamentalists as well, as they’re willing to kill innocents just to avoid admitting that they were wrong.
  • Double Standard: Sees him claim that there is one between the treatments of Trayvon Martin and Abdulrahman al-Awlaki. He also uses it to paint an incredibly dark view of President Obama himself.
  • Enemy Mine: Although his viewpoint on Obama's presidency isn't a positive one, he voted for him on the grounds that a Romney presidency would be worse.
  • Enemy Civil War: His take on the divide between the Tea Party and the Republican establishment.
    • This is exemplified by the duel for the 2012 Republican nomination. The presumptive frontrunner is Mitt Romney; the rest of the candidates style themselves as the "anti-Romney", with Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum as his most notable opponents.
  • Full-Circle Revolution: Cenk expressed disapproval over his perception of Obama's continuation of Bush's policies.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: TYT pokes good-natured fun at all languages in general, though Cenk seems to be particularly fascinated with German words.
  • Hot-Blooded: He was far more prone to this behavior back when he was a radio talk show host.
  • Implacable Man: As this arm-wrestling match shows.
  • Insistent Terminology: He always refers to himself as a progressive, not a liberal.
  • Its Pronounced Tro PAY: His name is pronounced "jenk yoo-gur"
  • Large Ham: When he really gets going, he tends to lose any semblance of an inside voice.
  • The Last DJ: He left MSNBC after they offered him a lucrative contract in exchange for toning down his rhetoric.
  • No Pronunciation Guide: His first name is pronounced with a J (Jenk). "C" sounds like "J" in Turkish.
  • Not So Different: Ronald Reagan claimed to have left the Democrats for the same reasons Cenk left the Republicans - the parties left them.
  • Old Shame: How he views his days as a Republican.
    • The reason he resigned from Justice Democrats, a progressive PAC he co-founded, was due to old, sexist online posts he made circa 1999/2000 that had resurfaced. Those posts were mostly made out of frustration for not being able to pick up women.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • He claims that Bush started making slightly more reasonable decisions by the end of his final term.
    • Cenk is no fan of Hillary Clinton, and spent months criticizing the DNC choosing her over Bernie Sanders. When Clinton lost the 2016 election to Trump, Cenk was very solemn and subdued when it came to discussing her for quite some time afterwards. When the Young Turk community voted Hillary third in their list of the most hated people of 2016note , he expressed both relief and disappointment, claiming Clinton had been through enough already.
    • After the death of George H. W. Bush, Cenk put aside all politics and admitted that, despite their ideological disagreements, he always had a certain amount of respect for the elder Bush, and he gives his reasons as to why.
  • Promoted Fanboy: Cenk gushed about Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann on many occasions, for being the first few truly (in his view) progressive voices on television. Between Con(servative) Job of the day and Interviews with Maddow, Cenk finally got his chance to take a crack at it himself, now employed by Al Gore at Current TV.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Very fond of delivering these. His view is that pretty much 90% of Washington simply doesn't care about actual beliefs or principles and that their votes are simply up for sale; also that the mainstream media have completely given up on the principle of actually doing their job of exposing the truth and simply reprint what the politicians say without challenge. He claims to be a firsthand observer of the last one, as he left MSNBC when they essentially told him that Washinton was unhappy with his refusal to "play ball," as he often puts it. The most scathing and memorable of these speeches is his infamous "USA Today, 'US safer, Bush says'" headline rant, AKA "USA Today, you suck balls!"
    Cenk: USA Today, 'US safer, Bush says'" headline rant, AKA "USA Today, you suck balls!"
  • The Rival: There are several for Cenk: in politics, one of his favorite guests is Ron Paul, despite their polarized political views. On the internet, one of his strongest rivals is Lee Doren, the Right-wing libertarian host of How The World Works (itself a popular Youtube channel) and former employee of the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute think tank.
  • Spin-Off: Back when Cenk was in MSNBC, most of his interviews were moved onto TYT Interviews.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: In 2010, Cenk announced the birth of his son, Prometheus Maximus Uygur.
    • He also had a lot of fun with the fact that Mitt Romney's dressage horse was named "Rafalka". He must have said it over twenty times in four minutes.
  • Would Be Rude to Say "Genocide": On top of his extremely controversial opinions on politics, he's still been known to deny or at least negate the full extent of the Armenian genocide. It also doesn't help that naming a show after the Young Turks party is something akin to show called "The National Socialists." However, his main co-host Ana Kasparian is Armenian, which either gives him N-Word Privileges or is just like having a Jewish person on the aforementioned show.
    • He retracted his denial in 2016, saying that he was going to refrain from commenting on the topic and acknowledging that he doesn't know enough about it. In 2017 he fully acknowledged that the genocide happened.


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