I am Cenk Uygur, political commentator, internet personality, and co-host and founder of The Young Turks - AMA!
Hi Redditors! I'm a political commentator, host and activist. I am the founder and co-host of The Young Turks, the largest online news show in the world and the first news and politics show to hit 1 billion views. Before Current TV, I hosted MSNBC Live. Before my career as a political commentator, I worked as an attorney in Washington D.C. I'm looking forward to answering your questions - ask me anything!
UPDATE: Here and ready to go. Here's my Video Proof
Which Politicians Are Not Full of Shit.
Changing Politics and Money... and also on Knitting.
On the Most Difficult Story to Cover
Have My Political Views Changed Since Becoming a Father?
That's all for now - thanks for your questions!
Young Turk noun 1. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) a progressive, revolutionary, or rebellious member of an organization, political party, etc., esp one agitating for radical reform
This is exactly it. When we considered naming the show we looked up the dictionary definition of The Young Turks and it said progressives looking to overthrow the established system. That's exactly us, when it comes to politics or the media. We're the new media. And we don't trust our politicians like the establishment does. We want to change the system.
It had nothing to do with the historical references to the name. I'm the only Turk who works or worked on the show. We used the term as it is commonly used in American pop culture, whether it's Rod Stewart or the talent agents that challenged the old guard back in the 1980's.
What's it going to take to get you on Real Time with Bill Maher as a guest? I think it would make for a great show.
Agreed. It'll take Bill Maher saying yes. But honestly, we're done trying. So, take it up with him. Keeping it real.
What is your daily "media diet," i.e. what do you read, what do you watch?
Huffington Post, Glenn Greenwald, Salon, David Sirota, Washington Post, I guess NYT whenever they break a story.
In your opinion, what current American politician is the least full of shit?
Great question, I'm responding on video on this one. Go.
You kinda turned around like "Oh hi, I didnt see you come in."
that was the point
UPDATE: HERE is my response in video
Have any of your political views changed since becoming a father?
I'll do this one on video.
UPDATE: Here's my response
Hey Cenk, on your show, you've always mentioned the fact that Obama has falsely run on the premise of being a Progressive, something which does not reflect his actions. You'd like to see Progressives have more of an influence on the American political scene, I'd imagine. Who, then, in your opinion, is Progressive (and popular) enough to run for President in 2016 ? Any personal preferences ?
Bernie Sanders is a real progressive, but the establishment would immediately dismiss him. I think the only progressive that has a chance of getting enough credibility to run by 2016 is Elizabeth Warren. Remember Obama also ran during his first senate term.
Cenk, from what I've heard you respected Chrstiopher Hitchens, did you ever feel at all convinced that the Iraq war was the right move, after hearing Hitchens' arguments?
Not remotely. He was horribly, 100% wrong about the Iraq War. And his arguments for it were terrible. Doesn't mean he wasn't brilliant in other respects. Of course, there was a lot I agreed with him on religion.
I'd love to tell you but it's hidden.
What would you consider your greatest fuck up on the show?
Saying that it couldn't have been Anthony Weiner who sent pictures of his junk on twitter. I couldn't believe he'd be that dumb. It turns out I was wrong. What were the chances that Andrew Breitbart would be right about a story for the first time in his life? Nonetheless, you have to admit it when you got something wrong, no matter how improbable.
How many times a day do you want to just give up trying to make sense of the political culture and take up knitting?
Good question - will respond to this in video.
UPDATE Here is my response
What's the current state of wolf-PAC? What's the best way to help?
Wolf Pac is doing great. We're making tremendous progress state by state. We are going to get to 34 states and get a constitutional convention to get an amendment to get money out of politics. Best way to help is either by becoming a member of wolf pac or by volunteering in your state. You can do both at www.wolf-pac.com.
If we unite, there isn't anything we can't get done.
Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund?
Wrong. Correct question is Galatasaray or Fenerbahce? Correct answer is Fenerbahce.
First off - thanks so much for doing this AMA, I love your show and you really are responsible for sparking my interest in current events, government, and politics. When I have conversations with friends and family about politics, all of them fall into the left vs. right viewpoint instead of the reality, which you taught me, us vs. them. Even when I bring up the fact that a majority of Americans think the biggest issue right now is corruption in the federal government, they continue to agrue back and forth, claiming one side is better than the other. It really frustrates me when people can't see the bigger issue: we NEED to get money out of politics. When I explain how to do it, through things like Wolf-PAC and the Anti-American Corruption Act, they write me off and say it can't be done. How do you deal with people who say that it's impossible to end the corruption yet still cling to partisan bullshit, pretending that our leaders represent us?
First, what choice do we have? Democrats will never represent you if you're a progressive. How many decades do we have to go through before people get that drilled through their head. At least, the Republican voters are a little more aware of how full of crap their politicians are. So, our only choice is to get money out of politics.
Second, they also told me that TYT couldn't be largest online news network but we're at 1 billion views now and the largest in the world, so I have some experience in doing the undoable. Never believe the doubters.
Women's rights movement won the right to vote for women when women couldn't vote in the first place. Think about how impossible that was. If they can get that done, we can easily get this done. 90% of the country is on our side. All we have to do is unite on this one issue.
First of all, congratulations on your record number of views on your channel. Interesting that your "The Biggest, Most Corrupt Bank Scheme That's Not Being Stopped " video was playing in the background as I saw your AMA.
Now for my first question:
In your opinion what will happen if the current rigged banking system will continue as it is at the moment? What will happen to the economy of the US and what measures will be implemented to combat the effects.
And my second question:
I remember back in 200- when you started that literally all TYT videos were spammed with nothing but hate. Has that affected you in any way at that time, and what was your reaction back then?
The US and entire world economy will at some point have a massive and complete breakdown. The banks will destroy our entire financial system inevitably because their incentive structure is all wrong. Their derivatives will take us all down. It's a guarantee.
I ignore the haters. I have developed very thick skin (it was pretty thick to begin with). The only time it bothers me is if they're right. In which case, I'll address it and fix it.
I'm not sure if you remember this, but I posted a message on the TYT facebook page back in September about my father passing and how significant watching TYT on Current with him was for us at the end.
I just wanted to say thanks again, and that I'm sorry for not getting back to you guys about talking about it on air - the message I got from your producer ended up in my "Other" folder on Facebook, and I didn't even see it until about four months later.
Oh, and a question!
If you could go back in time to cover any historical event while it was happening, which would you choose?
Yes, I absolutely remember your message to us about your father. It was very powerful and makes me glad we do this show.
I guess I would go back and cover the civil right's movement because I'm very curious about the details of how they swung popular opinion and got politician's to switch their vote. There is so much to learn from not just the broad strokes but also the mechanics of how they got done. Plus, MLK is my hero.
If there could be only one geopolitical change in your lifetime, what would it be and why?
Money in politics. Have I said that enough times yet? We need a constitutional amendment to end corporate personhood and publicly finance all elections. wolf-pac.com
Do you think there could be an FDR type progressive president again in your lifetime?
Only if we get money out of politics. If not, it seems inconceivable.
What has been your favorite interview? most challenging?
Most challenging interview was Andrew Breitbart. He was a steamroller and hard to get in a word edgewise or even to get a question in. I also knew he would throw out 17 unverifiable things per answer and it was hard to challenge all of them effectively and quickly before he jumped in again. But in the end, I got to find out what I cared most about -- was he genuine in all of the outrageous things he said. And in the middle of the interview he admitted that a lot of it was just theater. So, even he didn't believe what he said most of the time. That's what you're supposed to do in a good interview -- arrive at some truth you didn't know before.
Are you going to be moving over to Al Jazeera USA? What's the current status of, well, Current?
No idea. Current will probably run through August, though I'm not sure why. But we are still on there every night at 7PM. Enjoy it while you can.
Do you expect to see a nuclear weapon detonated in an act of war within your lifetime?
God, I hope not.
Big fan here! What has been the most difficult story to report on and think about in all your years in the media? Thanks a lot and say hi to Ana for me, (she's my internet crush). Oh and one more thing....OF COOOOOURSE!
Thanks for the question - will respond to this in video.
Does your family share your general political views, or do you end up having to do mini-debates when you get together?
I've found this happens fairly often to a friend of mine with a political radio show in LA.
My dad had the same change over I did. I think he was about a year behind me on that one, though he smelled out how full of shit Fox News was before I did. So, we left the Republican Party a long time ago. The only debate we have now is how much Obama has betrayed progressives -- a lot or a tremendous amount.
Do you have an opinion on the recent Monsanto Protection Act? What happened and how did the bill come to pass?
It happened because corporations have bought our entire government. Obama put their former chief lobbyist as his Food Safety Czar. Both Democrats and Republicans agree, corporations are more important than people.
We are in the middle of a sic-fi movie where we have created robots that have taken over the world. They're just called corporations.
Cenk how will you cope with Ana's burgeoning ego? Will oxygen tanks be worn when it finally consumes all the breathable air in the studio?
Don't worry, Ana's ego is nowhere near mine, so I'm used to it. I've had to deal with it my whole life.
What politician best represents your political views?
What is your favorite book and who is your favorite author? Does this change for your favorite political book and author?
Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie.
Favorite food? The food you could eat for days and never tire of.
Subs. I'm from NJ so I could eat a different kind of sub every day and not ever get tired of it. Extra oil and vinegar, extra mayo.
I'm a big fan of the show, as well as other news sources such as Colbert and the Daily Show for their irreverent humor with real news. Could you ever see a collaboration with them in the future?
Would love to. Tell them it's good idea. I'm in.
Benghazi. What's your take?
I'll be answering this in a video.
I THINK YOU ARE SO SEXY, CENK. and yes, I would have your politically correct offspring.
Wrong again, Bob! Only my wife will have my politically correct offspring. But much love and I appreciate the sentiment!
Besides you, which member of the TYT staff has been there the longest?
Dave Koller. Though it might be a tie with Ben Mankiewicz. Jesus Godoy is right behind them. All three have been there for basically all 11 years, give or take a year.
Hi Cenk, I really enjoy TYT, I watch it most days so thanks for putting in all the time you do towards it.
I wanted to ask, have you ever done a story analysis where it turned out later that you had gotten something wrong, or you completely changed your views on the issue at some point down the line? How do you deal with these situations if and when they occur on the show?
Yes, we change things we got wrong from time to time. For example, recently there was a video of John McCain that we had not shown enough context to. So, we pulled it down and replaced it with a video that gave the full context and corrected what we said earlier. You can't get everything right, but you shouldn't run form your mistakes. Own up to it and share what you've learned with the audience.
Even more importantly, listen to your audience. Because they will often times correct you if you got something wrong (in fact, they'll do it every time if you're online).
I've changed my stance on some specific issues like the estate tax. A caller convinced me a long time ago by pointing out that it's a tax that the recipient is paying not the original person who earned the money. So, Conrad Hilton is not being taxed twice; Paris Hilton is paying taxes for the first time on her inheritance which is mana from heaven for her (if you're a believer, literally).
On a scale of zero to Alex Jones, how susceptible are our elected officials to dipshit conspiracy theories?
All the hobbit home conservatives, like Ted Cruz, are pretty close to Alex Jones. Agenda 21 is the least relevant resolution in the world, not the most. And the Rockefellers are not secretly lizard people.
Do you think that Capitalism has grown too stagnant? Do you think a new economic paradigm will emerge?
Capitalism isn't the problem. Corporatism is. As soon as a corporation is born, it wants to kill it's father. It's the Oedipus of market systems. What do corporations hate the most -- competition. They immediately want to kill off the free market, i.e. capitalism.
What's the best way to do that? Buy off government officials to limit competition for you. There are hundreds of examples of this right now in America, but the best one is probably the drug industry. They literally used the Bush and Obama administrations to create competition free zones, where we can't negotiate drug prices and we block importation of drugs form outside the country.
Free market conservatives and libertarians should be most wary of corporate power, but often times they have been misled into thinking big business is on their side. The reality is that big multi-national corporations are only on their own side. All they care about -- by law -- is their own profits. Everything else, including free markets, be damned.
Whopper or Big Mac?
Big Mac by a country mile. Never liked Burger King. But prefer Quarter Pounder and Cheese to both.
How was your experience of being on MSNBC?
Are you interested in more television appearances, or are you fully content with the larger Internet audience?
Your hosting on MSNBC is what got me hooked to TYT, Thank you for your style I love it. Need more newscasters such as you and Anna!
Television still powerful. So, I don't mind doing more TV shows or appearances. But what's great now is that it is no longer necessary. Before it was the only game in town. Now it's a nice add-on, the main course is online video. TYT forever!
Can you explain why you chose to name your news show after a Turkish nationalist movement that was responsible for killing and forcibly displacing millions of Armenians? The Young Turks were the catalyst for Turkey's political modernization and bringing forth a feeling of a national Turkish (Muslim) identity, but you can say the same towards the Nazis. The Nazis did a lot of good (major economic growth and a strong/proud German identity) for Germany and Germans in Europe, but they're remembered for the atrocities they committed before and during WWII. It's disgusting that you associate yourself with this political movement that is solely Turkish and not shared by any other countries history and responsible for crimes against humanity and genocide. Even if you argue "atrocities" or "massacres" in the place of the WORD "genocide" then you can hide behind your ignorance in the face of truth. However, it does not excuse the fact you named your news show after a Turkish political movement that was responsible for a substantial amount of ethnic strife which led to massacres and yes genocide.
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