Exclusive: Cenk Ugyur’s Sexist Posts From The Beginning of The Young Turks
Over the past decade, The Young Turks Network has become one of the largest alternative online news outlets in the world, boasting a following of 3.5 million YouTube subscribers. It’s online video channel claims to receive 80 million unique views a month, and it reached 6 billion total views in February 2017 — on par with the some of the biggest mainstream media outlets. Headed by founder and owner, 47-year-old Cenk Uygur, TYT has broken national news stories and spawned both the political action committee Wolf PAC, which raised around $715,000 in the 2016 election, as well as an organization known as the Justice Democrats, which manages the campaigns for several left wing congressional candidates.
But while few today would question TYT’s progressive bonafides, newly uncovered blog posts from the organization’s early days reveal a troubling, complicated past.
Far from the multi-studio production it is today, TYT actually began in 2000 as a blog website and talk show while Uygur, in his thirties, worked at Miami based news station, WAMI-TV. Although the blog is now defunct, TYT Network still owns the domain which redirects to the outlet’s main page. However, in several posts I obtained, Uygur often made misogynistic and lewd remarks about women.
“When is the point when you forget how fun a drunk orgy can be?” Uygur wrote in a 2003 blog post titled “Old People,” complaining about an article which recounted the opinions of an older woman who was critical of Mardi Gras. “I had one of the best nights of my life at Mardi Gras. I kissed over 23 different women, saw and felt countless breasts, and was in a wonderful drunken stupor thanks to my friend John Daniels. It was the best buzz of my existence.”
Sex is a frequent topic in Uygur’s posts, and his views on it reflect deeply problematic attitudes on women as objects.
“It sucks that sex is so complicated,” he wrote in another post from 2000. “Wouldn’t it be great if we could just act on these urges and then just let it go without being uncomfortable? Actually, I have done this a decent amount of times in the past, but women seem to have more problems with this.”
Uygur’s blog profile was equally troubling, writing that “[s]ince this site is now an arm of The Young Turk Show on the radio. It will soon showcase such lovely features as pictures of the young virginal interns who work with us on the show.”
He attributed his views on women as a driving mechanism to entering the media industry, as he started his career as a lawyer. “So I started telling people how I pick up chicks (or how I don’t), and how I rate women when I first see them (it’s a five tier system based purely on how hot they are), and what I think of current events and all the other crazy things going on in the world. Then, I became a phenomenon. I became the Turk,” Uygur noted in a 2000 blog post.
The Young Turks’ media content has often reflected stories around sex and porn to drive viewership, as Uygur found success using these mechanisms when he first started his media career. Ugyur exploited women through sensationalizing misogyny to build his initial audience when he launched the Young Turks as a radio show and blog, citing that the stories about sex and women are the ones people viewed the most often.
He added in a separate blog post from 1999, “Obviously, the genes of women are flawed. They are poorly designed creatures who do not want to have sex nearly as often as needed for the human race to get along peaceably and fruitfully.” In another post from 2001 titled “Girls Who You Hate, But Really Want To Do,” Uygur discusses how he hates, but would love to have sex with Ally McBeal.
“Yeah, he used his position of power — don’t we all, in some way. I tell girls all the time about my cool job at a TV station in hopes that will trick them into sleeping with me.” Uygur wrote in a 2000 blog post defending an Air Force officer who was reprimanded for fraternization with an enlisted woman.
“I’d have as much sex as possible with prostitutes. Mind you, I’d have as much sex with non-prostitutes as I could, too,” another post from 2001 reads. “But I’m assuming I’m going to be in no shape to be seducing any fine ladies when I’m on the precipice of suicide. If you can, though, by all means, go ahead and do that first. But barring the possibility that you’re a manic depressive Don Juan, I’d buy the best sex money could buy — which I’m sure would be damn good. Two girls at once, Asians, blacks, a Venezuelan on top of a Texan prom queen, a secretary on top of a baby-sitter, twins … and their mama. I’d dress ’em up; I’d dress ’em down. I’d do things to women I hadn’t even imagined before (though I can’t imagine what that would be).”
In 2004, the Young Turks’ co-founder and current producer and senior VP of operations Dave Koller wrote a story on a trip he took with Cenk Uygur. “In one small Pennsylvania town we stopped for gas, and while Cenk filled up I went to talk to these three girls who were walking down the road nearby. Turns out they were three teenage girls, whores in training, literally looking for boys to pick them up,” Koller wrote in one of the most disturbing revelations from early Young Turks posts that the network’s founders thought it was acceptable for men in their thirties to hit on teenage girls. “Cenk soon joined me and we discovered these three little spoiled brat bitch young American girls on their way to becoming abused porn actresses or dispensable property in a New York City prostitution ring. The girls live in a small town nearby, and were in this town visiting the grandma of one of them. They were around 14–16 and in a few more years will be pretty damn good looking, but not great.”
Koller added further in the story, “Except we missed a turn that we needed, so we had to go back onto a commercial road, and at the first place of business we saw with an Asian name, Cenk turned in, assuming it was a restaurant. Except it wasn’t — it was the other type of Asian establishment, and I don’t mean dry cleaners. I mean massage parlor. We couldn’t believe it. Of course we went in. We didn’t see the girls, and the price was high and we didn’t have time so we didn’t patronize, but I did squeeze the Madam’s ass on our way out.”
The story devolves into racist commentary; “We arrived at lunch time and went to the main post office because Cenk needed to do something. The main post office is in the black part of town, and this was one motherfucking cool part of town. I mean these negros were the real deal. I’m not saying the town was a horrible ghetto. It was, but we’ve all seen worse. I mean these po’ black people just hanging out in the heat — this you don’t see quite like this in the northeast.” Koller continued, “We went to the Civil Rights Museum, which was made in the motel where MLK was assassinated. As soon as we got out of the car I launched a bottle rocket in the parking lot. “
Koller then cites another example during the trip when Cenk Uygur and him hit on teenage girls; “Drive through Navajo country to Monument Valley, where the John Wayne films were shot. Cool fucking place. We hit on these two cute French teenagers while their parents were standing right next to them.”
Cenk Uygur, Dave Koller and the Young Turks Network did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This writing by the TYT founders and current CEO and senior executive came when they were in their early thirties. Similar to MSNBC’s Joy Reid, whose homophobic blog posts from her late thirties and early forties written around 2008 made headlines recently, it will be a stretch for TYT Founders Cenk Uygur and Dave Koller to dismiss these writings as a symptom of youth and inexperience, as misogynistic attitudes were openly expressed by them into adulthood.