Cenk Uygur is an asshole. Really, there's no better way to describe him. You could get more specific, stating without fear of contradiction that he's a self-important loudmouth and a bloviating bully utterly lacking in any awareness of how full-of-shit he is, but honestly it's these very qualities that make him such an insufferable asshole. Better just to comment on the total package. "Asshole" is a special sort of word, one seemingly tailor-made to apply to Uygur. And unwittingly or not, it's a label he appears to be all-too-happy to take ownership of again and again and again. Like, for instance, this past Friday night, when he turned a flight delay into an opportunity to be a rampaging asshole on a truly impressive and public scale.
What happened was this: Uygur was apparently trying to fly out of LAX to Miami when his American Airlines flight wound up being delayed. Now, we've all been there. Flying these days sucks. It sucks partly because you never know when you're going to wind up stuck either in an airport or, God help you, on a plane while an airline jacks you around for hours, seemingly without a care in the world for the condition of your increasingly fraying nerves. Being delayed is a frustrating, even infuriating inconvenience, but in the end that's all it is -- an inconvenience. You can either accept it like an adult and try to get through it as best you can or you can stomp your feet like an angry baby and howl at every airline employee who gets within ten feet of you, regardless of whether that person has any control whatsoever over the issue.
Can you guess which one of those two options Uygur chose?
Once it became clear the delay wasn't going to be an ordeal that would end quickly, Uygur took to Facebook and began posting streaming video clips of his personal Boschian nightmare. Things started placidly enough, with Uygur merely documenting what both he and his fellow passengers were going through. Again, it's frustrating as hell to be delayed, especially when an airline is less than forthcoming about what's happening and when it will all be cleared up, but after a couple of hours Uygur by his own admission went from being "Fun Cenk to Angry Cenk" and didn't think twice about beaming out to the world his need to furiously make demands of the American Airlines employees at the gate.
At one point in his live-stream, you see Uygur shouting over and over again right into the face of one of these employees, an apparent supervisor who was talking to someone else at the time, "Where's the plane?! Where's the plane?! ... If we just sit here and take it they'd have us here until six in the morning and then they'd fuck us again!" Although he eventually went on to give credit to one guy at the counter, that doesn't exactly do much to counteract the image of Uygur basically going ballistic on him and a supervisor, demanding answers they obviously didn't have. Remember, again, the whole time this is going on, Uygur has no compunction whatsoever about sending images of his obnoxious ranting to anyone following him.
It all came to a point of critical mass when the plane finally arrived but Uygur wasn't allowed to board. He both tweeted out and video-streamed the fact that American Airlines had kicked him off the flight. Uygur called it "vindictiveness" on the part of the supervisor he'd yelled at, while the reason that supervisor gave for the ejection was that the captain of the flight "didn't feel comfortable" with Uygur being on the plane. The captain didn't want on his or her flight a giant, lumbering ox with apparent anger issues and a need to make the airline he or she worked for look bad to the world. Imagine that.
If you've followed Uygur's career at MSNBC, Current TV and the Young Turks at all, you know his shtick. When he needs to make a point, he makes it loudly and boisterously. When he argues, he generally looks like he's about a second-and-a-half away from challenging the person he's arguing with to a running-start rochambo. And when he really gets pissed, he shouts and swears and blurts. The thing is, it's not exactly a shtick -- that's who Cenk Uygur really is. That's always who he's been.
A friend of mine whom I trust implicitly told me a great story about Uygur once. Apparently, back when he worked for Current, just before each broadcast of his show he'd read a live tease for what was coming up. This is standard stuff in news; every local anchor does this every single day with no fanfare. But every day after Uygur did it, the Current newsroom would erupt in applause for him. Again, every single day this would happen. Knowing that reading a bullshit tease was rote, you'd think he would've at some point told the newsroom that applause wasn't necessary, but no -- according to my friend, he ate it up. Because that's just Cenk for you.
Beyond the applause he apparently welcomes for doing the most basic tasks his job requires, there's so much more. There's the fact that he made a big show of storming out of MSNBC, citing his integrity and the feeling that he was being unfairly slighted, when the reality was he was an interim host brought in from the internet and given a chance he should've been fucking grateful for. There's also the fact that he accepted $4 million in seed money from a conservative source for his online network but still maintains that he's a better liberal than pretty much anyone. And there's the accusation by Sam Harris that he "systematically acts in bad faith."
Those are just a couple of examples of his boorish or questionable behavior, but really it's not the kind of thing you can quantify. He's just, you know, an asshole. And his little meltdown at LAX -- over something as simple as a delayed flight -- goes a long way in making that clear to people who maybe hadn't figured it out yet.
By the way, Uygur did eventually make it to Florida where he posted yet another video, this one claiming that he was contacted by American Airlines. Their stated reason for booting him from the flight: he was recording airline personnel. Or, as the valiant warrior Uygur sees it, "Power doesn't like to be challenged." Jesus, what an asshole.