Cenk Uygur Just Took $4-Million from a Conservative Source (but He’s Still a Better Liberal Than You)

FILED TO: Media and Entertainment

One of the pitfalls of running a for-profit media company that traffics almost entirely in one specific brand of political opinion is that your funding, and where it comes from, becomes especially relevant. If you spend all day espousing what you claim are strongly liberal views, then turn around and take a giant bag of money from, say, a former Republican candidate for president and governor of Louisiana who has worked against a woman’s right to choose and in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act, people might accuse you of being a bit hypocritical.

Just a little while ago the Young Turks Network announced that it’s inked a deal to get $4-million in seed money from a group run by Buddy Roemer. With the funding comes an option that could double the take for TYT, with the whole thing being made through Roemer’s private equity fund, Roemer, Robinson, Melville & Co. Roemer himself is a pretty staunch conservative, despite having been a Democrat for many years and a late-career decision to try running for president as a member of both the Reform and Americans Elect party. In addition to his retrograde views on abortion and gay marriage, he also supported Arizona’s draconian crackdown on undocumented immigrants, is pro-torture, and is for the repeal of the ACA, saying that it amounts to government interference in healthcare. In other words, the guy is the furthest thing from a liberal.

But as we know, a large-scale political bent isn’t as important or desirable as it used to be. These days it’s entirely possible to get away with treating politics like you do everything else: as something that can be split apart and consumed à la carte and on-demand. Pick which issue is most important to you, your personal sine qua non, and ignore everything else. Think drones and kill lists are the most pressing problem facing America right now? Congratulations, you can apparently #StandWithRand and still be taken seriously as a liberal, even though he’s kind of a racist asshole. Think NSA spying matters more than anything else in the whole world? Hey, Glenn Greenwald has figured out a way to overcome the cognitive dissonance that should plague you if you choose to align yourself with otherwise repugnant creatures who happen to be anti-surveillance.

Cenk Uygur has shown over the past couple of years that he falls very nicely into this very exclusive category — a kind of category of one, where your individual or at the very least niche concerns are above all else and allegiances with just about anyone are possible. Uygur’s pet issue is campaign finance reform; he believes that money should be removed from politics as much as possible, and as it turns out that’s the one thing he and Buddy Roemer seem to agree on. Roemer, to his credit, slammed PACs and lobbyists when he ran for president in 2012, but the question remains whether that one good point about him makes up for all the other really lousy ones. Uygur sure seems to think so. No doubt a truckload of money helped ease any reservations he might have had about an alliance with Roemer.

Buddy Roemer is by no means a bad person, but he holds an entire slew of beliefs that should be deal-breakers in the eyes of someone who proclaims himself to be a liberal. Or, in Uygur’s case, someone who proclaims himself to be a better liberal than you. Uygur spends so much time arrogantly haranguing people who dare to disagree with him from the left that his willingness to be Buddy Roemer’s bitch carries with it a tasty amount of schadenfreude. Granted, 4-mil is 4-mil, but it’s going to be interesting the next time he tries to hold somebody to the progressive standard he piously claims to represent.

Then again, what Roemer himself said about the deal with the Young Turks speaks volumes about what we can continue to expect: “They are a lot like me, sometimes wrong but never in doubt.” Tell me you’ve ever heard a more perfect description of Cenk.


If you love what we do here at the Banter, please consider becoming a Banter Member and supporting independent media! Readers get access to the Magazine and unlimited monthly articles

  • Cis

    Until Cenk uses this money to run for politics and unless he changes his views to fit the agenda of the donor, what exactly is the damn problem? What a piss poor article.

    • StubbornThing

      Someone’s hurt because Cenk said something critical of Obama. It’s the only reason he’s disliked by so many liberals. If they actually watched his show they would love what he has to say.

      • Beth Hoke

        His show has jumped the shark for close to a yr or so. He’s been on a slander campaign against Sam Harris. His show has always gotten stories wrong. They make sure to get the political stories right and the police brutality stories right or as close to right as can be, but the other stories are generally piss poor in the research dept. I don’t know why they even bother with them? He’s an Armenian genocide denier, but libs don’t care about that. They say only Armenians should care or conservatives. WTH? The name of his show is the same exact name as the regime who committed the Armenian genocide. Then you have Ana who’s 100% Armenian and put the deplorable name aside cause she was career driven. It would have been like a Jewish woman working for a show called the Nazis. The show is fucked up on so many levels. It’s too much.

  • David Stephenson

    Wow Cenk, hope Roemer’s penis didn’t taste too salty.

    • Beth Hoke

      OOooh….low blow. ahhaha!

  • Christopher Foxx

    I can’t recall who it was (and regret the “a friend of a friend once told me this happened to him” air that lends this), but an election cycle or two back a candidate got money from a disreputable group, was pressured to give the money back, and refused to do so.

    His comment was something like “I disagree with these people and that being the case I’d much prefer their money be in my hands than theirs.”

    Seemed like exactly how one should respond when told they’ve been getting money from the “wrong” folks.

  • Christopher Foxx

    Uygur spends so much time arrogantly haranguing people

    Something amiss with that link. Leads to a “Not found”. Looks like it’s incomplete and/or just points back to this same article.

  • chris ellis

    Cenk discussed your article on the first eight minutes of the show today, but didn’t mention it by name. He mentioned your pro-Hilary piece a few weeks back, too (full disclosure: i disagree with you about that one, agree with you on this one). He mischaracterized you as ‘pro-establishment’ (a classic phrase he uses to put on people he disagrees with) and did not really mention Roemer’s rather crappy views on everything except money in politics.

    As someone that subscribes to your and his podcast, and also listens to Jimmy Dore’s (who went back and forth with you below), it’s cool to see worlds colliding, but I just wish it was for better reasons.

    • Beth Hoke

      Do you still watch TYT? I’ve never seen so many complaints of TYT.

      • chris ellis

        I do. I disagree with a few things but I disagree with a few things that Bob and Chez put out, too.

  • Rheinhard

    Lawrence Lessig has largely devoted his life for the last few years to the issue of money corrupting our politics. He has said that this is not and should not be a left issue nor a right issue. The only people who want politicians dependent on the big money donors more than the electorate are, of course, the big money donors. Lessig has observed, correctly IMO, that this issue of corruption is the first problem that must be solved in this country, because we can make no progress on anything else if the people who make our laws are dependent on donors more than voters.

    Now, as such, Lessig has spoken about his willingness to work with right-leaning groups to solve the corruption problem. Does that make him insufficiently pure, in your view, for good liberals to work with? Because if so, congratulations, you’re a bigger ally of the Koch brothers than you realize.

    • JozefAL

      Unfortunately, just how many RIGHT-leaning groups are there that work “to solve the corruption problem” as opposed to be a PART of the problem?

      Who was it that fought against McCain-Feingold? I don’t remember too many left-leaning groups that did so, but I do recall a lot of RIGHT-leaning groups that fought against it. When Citizens United went in front of the Supreme Court, which RIGHT-leaning groups criticized the outcome? Which LEFT-leaning groups supported the outcome?

      If Lessig has found any right-leaning groups which are willing to REALLY work towards a solution, then he should name them. NOW. The problem is that I doubt he’s actually found any who would work towards a REAL solution.

      Additionally, he might want to note WHO those “big money donors” are and to WHICH side they tend to donate before making such idiotic statements as “willing to work with right-leaning groups to solve the problem” since those “right-leaning groups” are PART of the problem and have NO interest in finding a genuine solution. (It’s worth noting that McCain-Feingold was killed because it threatened the big money RIGHT-wing donors from spending out their asses to right-wing, and far-right-wing, politicians. If there’d been even 10% as many LEFT-wing donors spending money the way the right had been, the right-wing would’ve be ready to support McCain-Feingold because they might’ve actually had to spend even more to maintain the right-wing’s financial edge.)

    • Beth Hoke

      That’s a good point.

  • Tj Stahura

    I don’t see why someone who rallies for progressive ideas, even if you don’t agree with some of them, should be blasted for this. We are supposed to be the sane ones. Why should we lampoon Cenk when all he is doing is coming together with someone, whom he disagrees with vehemently on most issues, to try and achieve one common very important goal? Do we not bash the right wing on a regular basis for the unwillingness to compromise or find common goals to reach with people on the left? Unless TYT takes this money and then starts changing their views to be more in line with Roemer’s, then he has done nothing hypocritical or wrong.

    • Beth Hoke

      He’s teamed up with AJ+ too.

  • D_C_Wilson

    I’ve never understood the appeal of Cenk Uygur. I’m not a fan of obnoxious blowhards whether they come from the right (Bill O’Reilly) or the left (Ed Schultz). But whatever else you can say about him, he’s clearly the kind of person who likes to call all the shots. I don’t think accepting this money from Roemer will corrupt him, but it does make him look hypocritical when he goes after other liberals for their lack of ideological purity. I can’t get too worked up about it though. To me, it’s just another reason to give his internet show a pass.

    • Beth Hoke

      His show has gotten so many stories wrong, half-assed, half-truths, slanted, edited, things put in etc. He’s been on a slandering campaign against Sam Harris for over 10 months. He’s an Armenian genocide denier. The name of his show is same as a genocidal regime. He doesn’t care that it’s offensive to the ARmenian community (the name of his show) and he has never apologize for what he’s written in the past for flat out not believing an Armenian genocide happened. He’s sexist too. He thought it was hilarious when an Indian woman drugged, sexually assaulted and raped her husband. He equates strict Islamic countries and Muslims to Christians and Jews and the crazy things they believe. He’s been for all wars except the Vietnam war and the Iraq war. The guy is bananas. He’s so emotional, a hot head, his way or no way, arrogant, full of himself etc. No woman in the media could get away with the shit he does. And only a liberal show can get away with naming themselves a genocidal regime name. The show is filled with hypocrisy and irony daily. I think half watch the show for the laughs alone. People are calling it FOX NEWS LEFT.

  • CL Nicholson

    Chez I know you hate religion, but here’s a little something I’ve learned about myself and others after 30+ years in church, its usually the most pious, pompous asses who are the biggest hypocrite and have the greatest fall. From I’ve seen, its primarily because such people continually buy into their own innate goodness. To quote one of my favorite writes, “You get into big trouble you stop trying to love God and start trying to be God.”

    The inherent problem with believing your own innate piety, whether its religious or political is that you set yourself to be compared with an “infinite yardstick” – you’ll never measure up to your own delusions of righteousness. And when you do fall short (and you will) you either continually compromise to keep up your delusions or you crumble.

    Hence why you have right wing Congressmen with “hoes in different area codes” but can look dead in your eye and tell you being gay or an atheist is evil incarnate or in the case of guys like Uygur, Assange and Greenwald, purported left wing saviors taking money from libertarian nut jobs or flat out dictators but wanting to dictate to the rest of us why Obama is such a bad guy.

    So Uygur can take Buddy Roemer’s redneck seed money and still think he’s a better voice of liberalism than you or I. Because Uygur’s God is his own reflection.

    • Beth Hoke

      He named his son Promethius (after a God). He acts like a walking God on earth himself. How anyone can stand that man for 20 minutes is amazing. How someone married him is amazing. His wife must be a saint. She probably thought she could fix that big ego. Um, no…

  • http://thegloomyhistorian.blogspot.com/ The Gloomy Historian

    It is almost as though money really does equal speech.

  • http://skepticink.com/dangeroustalk Dangerous Talk

    This article is basically just an anti-Cenk hate article by someone who is jelly of his success. Get over yourself and start to actually do something with your life. Maybe you can try to change the system or something the way TYT does. Wolf-PAC.com!!!

  • http://skepticink.com/dangeroustalk Dangerous Talk

    Taking someone’s money without being beholden to them isn’t really a problem. The problem is when you take someone’s money and in doing so you become beholden to them. But Cenk has made it clear that they money is earmarked for Wolf-PAC and that TYT will still take aim at Roamer when he comes up in the news.

    • Beth Hoke

      Is this someone from TYT?

  • alwaysthink

    Is Cenk still around someplace?

    Seems his true colors are showing and he looks Red. It’s sad but we seem to be getting a lot more like him on the “left” side now that the right has gone full wingnut.

    • Gunnut2600

      Red as in commie or red as in GOP?

      Red is also for conservative right? I always found that to be strange…

    • StubbornThing

      So you don’t watch his show, have no idea what he’s saying, and yet you still attack him. How the f’ck would you know what his ‘true colors’ are?

  • Thurlow Weed

    Cenk wanted to buy some neckties, so he took the money.

  • Mike Lumisch

    Uygur has always been a tiresome blowhard, but now the market has determined that he is less than one sixty second as bought as the Mighty Greenwald.

  • lawdood

    I’m no fan of Cenk but this really is no different than say, Maddow, being on a network owned by conservative Comcast. Generally, any sort of seed money/ investments in liberal media has to come from Wall St and/ or corporate America. This seems like more a personal attack on Mr. Uygur than some sort of revelation.

    • Schneibster

      Maybe if it wasn’t Buddy Roemer.

      • alwaysthink

        Ding, ding, ding for that last sentence.

      • dbtheonly

        “Maybe if it wasn’t Buddy Roemer”

        Okay Schneibster, where do you draw the line? Would you take money from: Bain Capital? How about Newt Gingrich? How about Pat Robertson? How about Jeff Bezos?

        Not wishing to speak for the ‘dood; but we’re at an intersection.
        Who has money to invest? and
        Who is “liberally pure” enough?

        I’m not convinced that there is anyone “liberally pure” enough to withstand all challenges; even before we get tot he money issue.

        • Schneibster

          Good question, db. A long way short of Buddy Roemer, is the answer.

      • Beth Hoke

        So Roemer isn’t for gay rights and abortion rights is what I remember. That does look rather bad for Cenk to take money from someone like that. He coudn’t find anyone on the left to get that kind of money from?

  • steve s

    So he thinks money corrupts politics, but won’t corrupt his “journalistic integrity”?

    • Beth Hoke

      Cenk Uygur is not a journalist. He’s just a commentator. Everyone at TYT are commentators. They make mistakes on stories ALL THE TIME. They should be ashamed, but they’re not. They’re too arrogant to admit they got stories wrong. They don’t care. People eat up their show like it’s doritos.

  • Lady Willpower

    Cool, maybe he can spend some of that $$$ on public speaking lessons.

    • Beth Hoke

      you think he’d spend that money getting stories right and get a personal trainer to lose a few pounds.

  • Waltb31

    It’s all fun and games until someone gets busted. Dudebro’s got an angle; he’s in on the grift. Typical.

    • Schneibster

      +1. Just like Malkin. Not as bad a mouth. So far.

  • jimmyjimmydore

    FYI: Cenk has walked way from waaay more money than Buddy just invested. He walked away from tons of cash at MSNBC, and even more millions from Washington Post. ALl because he didn’t want to compromise his integrity or voice.

    Buddy is an outsider and so is Cenk. The republicans hate Buddy, wouldn’t even let him into the debates.

    So if he got 4million from an equity firm that has zero to with the content of the show, then more power to him, he didn’t sell out and kept his integrity. But of course the untrue story is more interesting and salacious, so lets go with that.

    • Schneibster

      Uh huh.

      Maybe if I’d never seen Cenk you might get away with that.

      • Jason

        Get away with what exactly?
        Is the Young Turks suddenly espousing anti-feminist views? I can’t say i have seen anything like that

        • Schneibster


          So, hallucinate much?

          Just askin’.

    • Chez Pazienza

      I actually posted a comment a little while ago and it looks like it somehow got eaten, so if another one similar to this shows up I apologize. I’ll go ahead and respond to you because I spent part of my career at MSNBC and the NBC Television Stations Division.

      Your spin on Cenk’s valorous exit from MSNBC is certainly one way to look at it. Another way is that he left not because of a desire to preserve his integrity or his voice but simply because he didn’t like taking orders from people he disagreed with. He tells a pretty compelling tale of how he and his show were a threat to Washington and that’s why he was being pushed out. But the reality is that he wasn’t ready for prime time — or a late-afternoon slot, as it were — and Griffin was right to want to bump him down and let him work on his presentation a little. I have no doubt that Cenk couldn’t stand that — that once it happened his wounded and insulted ego kicked into overdrive.

      What he loves more than a decent paycheck — and trust me, you really have it wrong about what low-end talent is paid at a place like MS, especially a guy they got from the internet — is creative control, and MS wasn’t offering that and they obviously weren’t letting him do any fucking thing he wanted in any other capacity. So he threw a temper tantrum and bailed, but he admittedly did it with some forethought because by casting himself as a danger to the establishment he made himself look like a man of conviction rather than a guy who was just pissed he wasn’t getting what he wanted. I’m sure he figured his leaving like that would pay off because it would increase his visibility, build some cachet, give him a windmill to publicly tilt at (big, bad mainstream media outlets like MSNBC) and even bring him another shot at the brass ring at some point, which would mean, yes, money.

      And look what happened. It all came to fruition. His TYT empire grew in influence; he got to be on TV again when Current came calling; and now he’s having $4 million dropped in his lap by Buddy Roemer. All in all, Cenk got exactly what he wanted.

      • jimmyjimmydore

        for starters, you theory that Cenk was not ready for prime time and they wanted him to work on his “presentation skills” is pretty laughable. So MSNBC thought Cenk lacked “presentation skills” …so they moved him to the weekend to make room for AL SHARPTON? Cuz its all about presentation skills?

        Not sure what your point about the MSNBC money is. Cenk walked away from MSNBC with nothing waiting for him but his youtube show. SOmehow that means he’s a sell out or something to you? You are all over the place here, I know you don’t like Cenk’s style, but coherent criticisms of him are not your thing.

        He walked away from MSNBC, he turned down millions for Washington Post, and now takes money from a guy who is on the opposite side of the political spectrum except they agree on the biggest issue there is- getting money out of politics.

        Thats the headline on this story “Even ideological foes can work together on the biggest problem facing AMerica today- getting money out of politics”.

        But instead you spun it that the guy who walked away from millions and kept his integrity somehow sold out by taking investment cash from another political outsider.

        I like most of your work, but I think your personal disdain for Cenk allowed you to write a completely off the mark piece.

        • Chez Pazienza

          Oh, you think I wasn’t laughing at the idea that Cenk was replaced with Sharpton? Sharpton is unwatchable. But Sharpton was a big name for MSNBC (for some reason) and Griffin is nothing if not a star-fucker. You easily could’ve also wondered why Griffin had a problem with Cenk but saw fit to put a complete neophyte like Ronan Farrow on air.

          To that end, Cenk’s right when he says that at its core MSNBC is establishment. Of course it is. But I don’t think Cenk was on his way down because he was perceived as some kind of danger to authority and the status quo; I truly do believe it was mostly a matter of his show not being very good and his not having the clout of a dipshit like Sharpton to buy him some time and goodwill.

          As for the deal with Roemer — honestly on its surface it’s not a huge deal. What makes it a little questionable is merely Cenk’s arrogance in putting himself on a pedestal as being somehow the arbiter of what can be considered real progressive values and what’s just authoritarian ass-kissing. (Read the links in the piece.) That’s why his willingness to overlook some of Roemer’s more unsavory beliefs is worth noting here.

          • chris ellis

            interesting to see two of my favorite politically-aware guys bantering back and forth.

          • jimmyjimmy

            Wow, that was one of the weakest “back & forths” Ive seen in a long time, He doesn’t like Cenk personally and then wrote a completely and easily debunk-able piece full of sound and fury signifying nothing.

            WHen asked to come on a live radio show and defend this kind of journalism, he tucked tail and ran.

            Again, usually better work out of these guys here, but super shitty and sloppy job here, and its painfully obvious, which is why he ducked my request for an interview.

          • Beth Hoke

            Has Cenk gotten money from teaming up with AJ+? At one time he actually said Islam was the worst religion, which is shocking to see now. Now he says all religions are equally terrible except many and some Muslims in the Middle East, Asia and even Europe has done some rather awful actions (NOT ALL MUSLIMS, BUT TOO MANY. And of course it depends on the area etc). I don’t think a gay Muslim wants to be caught in Saudi Arabia.

            Do you know why he’s slandered Sam Harris for 10 months? What’s that all about? He even slandered Krauthammer of all people and Kraut’s people must have scared Cenk, cause Cenk actually he said he misspoke for the first time EVER. That was like watching a miracle. Apparently Sam Harris doesn’t want to stop Cenk from his bullshitting routine. Even Dave Rubin doesn’t understand what Cenk is doing. Why didn’t he ever answer Dave Rubin’s tweets?

            How big is his ego? Why has his show gotten so many stories wrong? Why the sloppiness? He even said flogging wasn’t that painful just by looking at a far away phone video. He felt no need to research that information. ? Since the beginning his show has gotten so many stories wrong. They seem only good at political news and police brutality stories. The other stories they dont seem to put much research into.

            He and his co-hosts thought an Indian woman drugging, sexually assaulting and raping her husband was hilarious. The sexism is stunning. It’s like going back to the 1960s in thinking. That’s some serious Fox news like thinking right there.

            He’s been for every war except the Vietnam war and the Iraq war. Bill Hicks would think he’s screwed up. He’s still okay wiht going into Afghanistan? This dude really like war.

            He’s had to go back to being an Armenian genocide denier, which doesn’t look cool for a ‘progressive’. He named his show after a genocidal regime who committed the Armenian genocide. Well he’d call what the original Young Turks did was a slaughter-fest and not a genocide these days. No one has back peddled more about the Armenian genocide like the tough Cenko(no genocide, yes a genocide, um a slaughter-fest..). And Ana is the only Armenian on this planet who’d work for a show called The Young Turks. It’d be like a Jewish woman working for a show called the Nazis.

            So many youtubers have pointed out many details where TYT has gotten so many stories wrong (even when TYT was playing VIDEO. ???). People are calling TYT FOX NEWS LEFT. I think half of TYT viewers watch it to laugh out and point out their b.s. like how TYT watches fox news for the same reasons. This show should rename itself to HYPOCRISY FLOX NEWS.

            How can anyone stand working for such an egomaniac who can’t even see reality at times? It must be SOMETHING. He must act like a Sultan I imagine. Plus he acts so crazy, is a hothead, gets so emotional, which no woman could ever get away with the stuff he does. THAT MAN IS HORMONAL.

            And any idea if the TYT crew still drinks at the studio bar especially made? Anyone still use it? Seems like a waste of money to build that little endevour. And what’s with the teeny boppy/young adult Today show light shows? Do they really rake in the dough? I wish I saw through this show sooner.

      • http://www.osborneink.com/ OsborneInk

        I have met Cenk in person and can confirm he is totally full of himself.

        • Beth Hoke

          Can you give more details? It’s obvious he’s full of himself just by seeing his enormous ego on his show. His large ego has gotten many stories wrong on his show cause what he sees and wants to spin HE DOES and he’s surrounded by YES MEN AND YES WOMEN.

          • http://www.osborneink.com/ OsborneInk

            Cenk is the most important person in the world to Cenk. He’s also an Armenian genocide denier. We were at a Netroots confab.

          • Beth Hoke

            Interesting enough the regime who caused the Armenian genocide was(I kid you not) The Young Turks. Armenians have been upset with the name of the show and for him being an Armenian genocide denier, but he doesn’t care. I even happened to see an old TYT video from like 2007 I think and they played angry voice messages and one guy said, “The roots of your name is awful. Go look it up in Wikapedia!” Cenk was like, “Ah shad up you peasant. Whatever man..” ?? And Ana is 100% Armenian. How she got over that name is very strange. She cared more about her career than her community and she knew not enough people know of that history. Nice move, Ana. I’ve told TYT fans about this stuff and they respond with, “NO ONE CARES ABOUT THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE!!!” It’s been an eye opener.

            I can’t imagine what you saw first hand. Oh God.. His ego must knock people over. I bet he was a total jack ass.

            I bet the people at MSNBC would have plenty to say about Cenk. I like that the other commentator on here basically spilled the beans about Cenk. Obviously, Cenk hated being told what to do there. I saw that documentary on him and all of his friends and old co-worker threw him under the bus. They all said he’s obnoxious, arrogant, stubborn, bombastic etc. Steve Oh said he didn’t know for some time whether to like him or not. His old co-host said Cenk didn’t think she could handle the tough political news and she was sick of his obnoxious shit and quit. i have no idea how ANYONE stands him?

            Thanks for the response.

      • Beth Hoke

        That sounds like Cenk to a T. The guys acts like a bull in a china shop on his show with raging hormones. And it’s his way or no way. His ego is probably second to Trump’s.

  • Schneibster


    Had someone abuse me for it, too.

    Dudebro is a Libertardian.


Subscribe to the Banter Newsletter!