UPDATED: Sanders Withdraws Cenk Uygur Endorsement*

Sen. Bernie Sanders (right) with Cenk Uygur ahead of a rally in 2016
Sen. Bernie Sanders (right) with Cenk Uygur ahead of a rally in 2016

Sen. Bernie Sanders (right) with Cenk Uygur ahead of a rally in 2016

*Moments after Asbarez posted an op-ed penned by its editor Ara Khachatourian questioning Senator Bernie Sanders’ motives for endorsing Armenian Genocide denier Cenk Uygur, the Democratic presidential hopeful announced that he was withdrawing his endorsement.

“As I said yesterday, Cenk has been a longtime fighter against the corrupt forces in our politics and he’s inspired people all across the country. However, our movement is bigger than any one person. I hear my grassroots supporters who were frustrated and understand their concerns. Cenk today said he is rejecting all endorsements for his campaign, and I retract my endorsement,” said Sanders in a post.

In typically arrogant response to the outcry by Democratic voters Uygur responded with the following statement: “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the endorsements of Bernie Sanders, Ro Khanna, Nina Turner & local progressive groups that gave me their support. Their stance took real courage in the face of the corporate media and Democratic establishment onslaught. I want to be free of any influence other than the voters of CA-25. I will not be beholden to corporations, lobbyists, or special interest groups and I will not stand by while those groups attack my political allies. That’s why I have decided that I will not be accepting any endorsements.”

Below is Khachatourian’s original article.


On the day that the United States Senate unanimously recognized the Armenian Genocide in its historic passage of S. Res. 150, one of the measure’s supporters, Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders announced his endorsement of an often vocal Genocide denier and self-proclaimed progressive Cenk Uygur for his bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

It is inferred that Sanders was part of the unanimous consent in Thursday’s Senate action and his previous statements also cement his support for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide and holding Turkey accountable for its denial.

So, how does endorsing an individual who has made a living hosting and running a broadcast operation called “The Young Turks”—named after the very regime that orchestrated the Armenian Genocide—fit the senator’s progressive agenda on which he has been campaign not just during the 2020 presidential cycle but also in 2016?

Uygur announced his intentions to run for Congress in California’s 25th district, which was left vacant by the resignation of Katie Hill, and endorse Sanders for president.

Last month, I wrote an op-ed saying that Cenk Uygur does not have a place in Congress, not only for his views on the Armenian Genocide and his insistence on sticking with The Young Turks moniker, but also for his record of sexist, racist, homophobic comments, which are in direct contrast to Sanders’ stated progressive agenda.

[Like clockwork, I and Asbarez were attacked on our website and social media platforms by Uygur’s band of blind supporters, who in rabidly none-progressive terms called me an immigrant who doesn’t have a grasp of the English language and other choice words such as “douche bag.”]

Alas, I wasn’t the only one who found Uygur’s candidacy problematic. The Los Angeles County Democratic Party issued an announcement last month categorically rejecting Uygur’s run, saying he “does not belong in Congress,” citing his misogynistic and racist stance.

That is why Sanders announcement Thursday came as a surprise because the positions articulated by Uygur are in direct contrast to the agenda Sanders has been advancing in his bid for the White House.

In his endorsement Sanders called Uygur “one of the outstanding progressive journalists in our country.”

Sanders’ endorsement has also raised concerns with the California Young Democrats, a group that supports Sanders. The group’s president, Will Rodriguez-Kennedy, called on Sanders to withdraw his endorsement of Uygur.

“We think that he doesn’t necessarily reflect the movement that Sen. Sanders has built,” Rodriguez-Kennedy told the Los Angeles Times.

Similarly, the L.A. County Democratic Party, in a statement issued on Friday called on Sanders to “disavow” Uygur.

“Progressives across America have shown they love Bernie Sanders – but – if Bernie is a true progressive – then he will disavow Cenk Uygur – and un-endorse this sexist, racist, homophobic man who supports legalizing bestiality,” said Mark J. Gonzalez the president of L.A. County Democrats.

“This man has spent decades, including up until recently, attacking women, the LGBTQ community, Jews, Muslims, Asian Americans and African Americans. His vulgarity, his hate speech and divisive rhetoric have no place in our party. This man has endorsed bestiality, said women are genetically flawed, that Jews and Muslims are wasting their lives and live in a fantasy land, said gay men cannot be sexually harassed, was sued for racial discrimination and has flippantly used the n-word repeatedly on television, gave a platform to KKK leader David Duke, mused about assaulting a female TV anchor after sex and so much more,” added Gonzalez.

It seems Sanders is returning the favor by endorsing him. By doing so, however, he is calling on California voters to send a toxic person to Congress, who, while checking all the so-called right boxes of the progressive talking points, has a damaging record of flip-flopping on some of the basic tenets of the movement.

It is no surprise that Uygur, who founded the Justice Democrats, an organization he founded to support primary challenges, was ousted from the group by his colleagues when the more recent sexist remarks surfaced.

Without an official explanation by Sanders and his campaign, the presidential hopeful is either a hypocrite whose tone-deaf embrace of a man who has branded himself after a Genocidal regime or is desperate for votes.

Senator Sanders should reflect on his own record and immediately withdraw his endorsement of Uygur or he risks losing the mantle of the top Democratic presidential candidate in California.

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One Comment;

  1. Tsoghig Hekimian said:

    Thank you for this op-ed Ara, another pithy and forceful piece. So glad my fav presidential hopeful listened!