Cenk Denied The Genocide


– Including On The Young Turks Website

Cenk Uygur founder and CEO of The Young Turks[1] has a long and sordid history of Armenian Genocide denial both before and after he created his The Young Turks show. Many people know about Cenk’s article, “Historical Fact or Fiction” [2] in The Daily Pennsylvanian, but most don’t know that before writing that article Cenk went as far as trying to remove funding from the Armenian Club at the University of Pennsylvania in an attempt to silence them from placing ads in that same newspaper raising awareness about the Genocide.[3]

Many people know about Cenk’s infamous letter to the editor at Salon, written when he was 29 and working as a writer and commentator for The Times on Wami 69, where he called the Armenian Genocide American propaganda[4]. What many don’t realize is that Cenk’s letter was edited by Salon and that he wrote another article, one that went much further in denying the Genocide, which he placed on The Young Turks website [5]; It remained there for years[6]  after his show was featured on Sirius Radio.[7]

I wonder if Ana Kasparian knows that four years before she joined The Young Turks, Cenk had an article denying the Genocide her ancestors survived on the show’s website? From her public statements on the subject, she appears to be completely unaware.

Cenk has tried to defend his choice to give his show, The Young Turks, the same name as the perpetrators of the Genocide he denied, by saying that he got the definition from the American Heritage Dictionary[8]. The problem for Cenk is that the definition he put on the website didn’t exist when he came up with the name of the show (he purchased youngturk.com[9] and TheYoungTurks.com[10] in 1998) and the definition didn’t feature on the show’s website until years after he’d already put Genocide denial on his the site[11]. This raises the question, was Cenk “progressive” at the time? All evidence points to the fact that he wasn’t, at least in the way he portrays to the media now, (he even voted for John McCain in 2000 and would have in the General Election if he’d won the nomination[12]).

This is a huge problem for The Young Turks brand. Even before we found out that Cenk had Genocidal Denial on his show’s website there have been increasing calls for Cenk to change the name of his show[13]. The mounting pressure became so great that Ana tweeted[14] out a statement by Cenk[15] in 2016. It wasn’t what Cenk said in that statement, but what he didn’t say revealed the most.

In this article, it will become apparent why Cenk’s 2016 statement, simply isn’t good enough and why it’s not enough for Cenk to “rescind” two of his four statements explicitly denying the Armenian Genocide. It’s also untenable for a talk show host who regularly talks about current and historical world politics to say he refuses to talk about this one issue.

If The Young Turks don’t have the editorial procedures in place to deal with their own history how can they expect anyone to take them seriously as a “news” organization? If they aren’t willing to be open and honest about this, why should anyone listen to them on any other issues? And why are they calling on sports teams to change their names for “racism”[16] [17] [18] [19] [20] when their own CEO show has a much worse history of showing insensitivity to the Armenian community and a darker past of racism and genocide denial?

The following are the four times we know that Cenk publicly denied the Armenian Genocide. It’s also worth noting that since Cenk claims to have written for The Turkish Times within this same time period, there is a good chance that there may be more.


Cenk tried to remove funding from the Armenian Club for their Genocide Ad

You can read the Drew Zoller’s original, “Turk, Armenian Dispute Raised At SAC” article here.

While Cenk was an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania he used his position as president of the Turkish Students Association to try to remove funding from the Armenian Club. The reason? Cenk  tried to claim that the advertisements that the Armenian Club placed in the student newspaper every year raising awareness about the Armenian Genocide amounted to political campaigning. The day that Cenk chose to do this? 24th April 1991, Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day.

The only reason we know about this at all is because Cenk’s behavior was so outrageous it was reported on in the paper:

“When the name of the Armenian Club was read, Turkish Students Association’s SAC representative Cenk Uygur, began grilling the leader of the Armenian group about his group’s activities.

During the debate, Uygur pointed to the Armenian Club’s request and allocation of funds for purposes such as office supplies, stamps and phone charges, with none allocated for “other programs.” He then asked the group’s representative what activities the group is involved in.”[3]

So Cenk effectively hijacked an otherwise boring budget meeting of the Student Activities Council to try to silence Armenians because that is what he was really trying to do, silence the Armenian Club, by removing their funding or threatening to, because they had the audacity to talk about the Armenian Genocide.

“What are they spending [their budget] on?” Uygur said. “Everything they do is political.” … “I’m sick of them defaming the Turkish people,” he said. “They do it with their flyers, they do it with their advertisements [in The Daily Pennsylvanian.] I’m frustrated by the claims they put against the Turkish people. It’s simply not true.”[3]

What advertisements was Cenk talking about? What was he claiming was “simply not true”? Here’s a copy of the Armenian Club’s ad that Cenk disagreed with as it appeared in the Daily Pennsylvanian on 24th April 1991.[21]

As can be clearly seen the ad quotes the 1987 resolution of the European Parliament, saying,

“the refusal of the Turkish government to acknowledge the genocide against the Armenian people committed by the Young Turk government…(is an) insurmountable obstacle to consideration of the possibility of Turkey’s accession to the (European Economic) Community.”[21]

It’s obvious from the article and from the ad that Cenk was claiming that the Armenian Genocide, perpetrated by the Young Turks didn’t happen, making this his first public statement denying the Armenian Genocide.

His attempt to remove funding from the Armenian Club ultimately failed,

“SAC members dismissed the issue from the floor, overwhelmingly voting not to overturn the Armenian Club’s budget of $228 and uncharacteristically applauding after the results were announced.”[3]

But Cenk didn’t stop there…

Cenk’s “Historical Fact or Fiction” Article in the Daily Pennsylvanian

You can read Cenk’s original “Historical Fact or Fiction” article here.

Trying to remove the Armenian Club’s funding on the Armenian Genocide Memorial day wasn’t enough for Cenk Uygur. No. Later that same year, on 22 November 1991, Cenk decided to write an article in the student newspaper completely denying the Armenian Genocide.

“The claims of an Armenian Genocide are not based on historical facts. If the history of the period is examined it becomes evident that in fact no such genocide took place.” [2]

In his article, Cenk mentioned the ad that named the Young Turks as the perpetrators of the genocide before asserting that the claims of the Armenian Genocide are a result of propaganda. He then concluded:

“Hence, once you really examine the history of the time it becomes apparent that the allegations of an Armenian Genocide are unfounded. So the question arises of why the Armenians would bother to conjure up such stories, and even go as far as, committing approximately 200 acts of terrorism since 1973 to further their cause, resulting in countless deaths and injuries to government officials and civilians.

The answer is that they want their demands met. Their demands are that they receive close to one-half of the land of the Republic of Turkey for a new Greater Armenia, and that every Armenian claiming to be injured by the alleged genocide be compensated with cash reparations.”[2]

Making this the second time Cenk Uygur publicly denied the Armenian Genocide.

Those trying to defend The Young Turks will say, “Sure, Cenk denied the Armenian Genocide and tried to silence the Armenian club when he was in college, but everyone does crazy stuff while they are in college” and I completely agree.

The problem for Cenk and his Young Turks is that his Genocide denial didn’t end there…

Cenk’s letter to the editor at Salon

You can read Cenk’s letter to the editor at Salon in full here.

On 6 June 1999 Cenk wrote a letter to the editor at Salon denying the Armenian Genocide. Cenk was 29 years old, he was working at The Times at Wami 69 as an irreverent conservative talk show commentator and writer. Almost a decade after his earlier article Cenk’s views remained the same, that the Armenian Genocide was the result of American propaganda.

He summed up his article as follows:

I once asked a professor of mine who taught a class on the laws of war and war crimes at Columbia Law School to deprogram me from all the propaganda I had received growing up Turkish. I asked him to please find me evidence of the genocide by neutral scholars so I could know the truth.

After investigating the issue, he came back and said that he could not find one non-Armenian scholar who believed this was a genocide, but since “it looked like a duck, it walked like a duck and it talked like a duck, it must be a duck.” If that’s not the product of excellent propaganda, I don’t know what is.[4]

Making this his third time denying the Armenian Genocide. Some people have claimed that the letter published by Salon shows a softening of Cenk’s attitude on the issue or that he didn’t necessarily deny the Armenian Genocide, but that he merely questioned it.

The problem with this position is that Cenk wrote another article shortly afterward, which he put on The Young Turks website…

Cenk’s article on The Young Turks site

You can read Cenk’s full article that appeared on The Young Turks site here.

In 1999, the same year Cenk wrote his “Salon Editorial” as he called it, he wrote another article denying the Armenian Genocide on The Young Turks website, where it remained until 2003.

Throughout his article, Cenk placed the phrase “Armenian Genocide” and the word “genocide” in quotation marks as a snarky way of showing he didn’t accept the Armenian Genocide as fact. Cenk concluded his article with his position:

“However, it is my position, as well as the position of most of the non-Armenian, non-Turkish, non-Turkish sponsored scholars, that what happened was a civil war in which there were a great deal of bloodshed on both sides, including some massacres of Armenians and a deportation of most Armenians. But there was no organized, systematic effort to destroy the Armenian race. Armenians within the Ottoman Empire at the time came to be seen as enemies, just like an outside power such as Russia. At the time, Turkey was in the middle of World War I and had foreign enemies on all sides, and at that point, there was a clear Armenian insurgency that also struck at the Turks.

It was the view of the Turkish government that the best way to combat this insurgency was deportation. And along the way there were many innocent civilians who were killed. But there was a great deal of chaotic fighting on both sides. In the end, many Armenians were killed and many more were moved out of their homes and the Turkish government lost the war and three million people (the Turks lost at least twice as much people as the Armenians, but that is not a fair number since the Turks were fighting many different enemies, not just the Armenians). After the war the Ottoman Empire was split up by its enemies and occupied.

My conclusion, for what it’s worth: this was a civil war — that both sides lost.

I encourage everyone to read neutral scholars in the field to reach their own conclusion.” [5]

So Cenk was saying that he completely denies that there was an “organized, systematic effort to destroy the Armenian race” and that in his opinion it was a “civil war“. This remained on his The Young Turks site for years after his show appeared on Sirius, and after Ben Mankiewicz[22] and Jill Pike[23] joined the show.

It was finally removed in February 2003[24], when Cenk was 32 years old. The American Heritage Dictionary definition didn’t appear until October 2003[25], 8 months after the article denying the Armenian Genocide had been removed.

About four years later in 2007 Ana Kasparian would join The Young Turks[26]. Cenk made the claim to her that he’s made multiple times since, that The Young Turks name came from the American Heritage dictionary definition that appears on the site[27], but does that make any sense?

Why Cenk’s dictionary definition excuse doesn’t add up

There are a number of problems with Cenk’s excuse for The Young Turks name; the dictionary definition quoted on the site didn’t exist in the American Heritage Dictionary at the time he came up with the name, so Cenk couldn’t have used that definition when he came up with the name. So the definition was added years after the fact, but before it was added, as pointed out above, Cenk actually had an article denying the Genocide on TYT’s website. The fact that Cenk wasn’t really “progressive” at the time he came up with the name is just another nail in the coffin to his post hoc justification for the name.

Cenk’s first The Young Turk show appeared in 1995 on public access television. In 1998 he purchased the domains for Youngturk.com[28] and TheYoungTurks.com[29]. These domains still redirect to The Young Turks website. It’s safe to say that he came up with the name for his show in the mid to late 90s. The dictionary definition didn’t appear on The Young Turks website until October 2003 and is part of the definition found in the American Heritage Dictionary 4th Edition:

Young Turk (n),

1. A member of a Turkish reformist and nationalist political party active in the early 20th century.

2. also young Turk
a. A young progressive or insurgent member of an institution, movement, or political party.

b. A young person who rebels against authority or societal expectations.

(American Heritage Dictionary, 4th Edition)”[30]

The definition relating to the Turkish nationalists who perpetrated the Genocide is excluded from The Young Turks site.

But the 4th edition of the American Heritage Dictionary didn’t come out until the year 2000 and so it couldn’t have been used when Cenk came up with the name, The Young Turks. The definition in the 3rd Edition, which would have been around at the time Cenk came up with the name reads as follows:

Young Turk (yung turk) n.

1. A young progressive or insurgent member of a collective enterprise, such as a political party.

2. A member of a Turkish reformist and nationalist political party active in the early 20th century.

[After the Young Turks, a late 19th- and early 20th-century revolutionary party in Turkey.]”

(American Heritage Dictionary, 3rd Edition)”[31]

The part about rebelling against authority is completely missing from this earlier definition placing the focus on young and progressive. Surely Cenk was progressive in the mid to late 90s when he came up with the name for his show?

Unfortunately no, no he wasn’t.

At the time Cenk came up with The Young Turks name he was a staunch conservative, both on his own talk show and when he worked as a political commentator and writer at The Times for Wami 69. He voted for John McCain in 2000 and would have for president if he’d won the nomination.[32] So why would he choose a name that meant progressive? Unless that wasn’t the reason he chose the name. Surely, he wouldn’t have deliberately given his show the same name as the perpetrators of the Genocide, would he? Who would do something like that?

The unfortunate answer is Cenk Uygur, an Armenian Genocide denier who deliberately and consistently went out of his way to court controversy at the time. Cenk also at the time placed an article on The Young Turks official website calling Native Americans greedy redfaced Redskins because they had the audacity to sue big tobacco for targeting Native American teens in their advertising campaigns. He recognised that the term “redskins” was racist, but said that he was using it anyway because they made him mad.[53]  He called Bryant Gumbel “uppity” while accepting it as racist because if anyone could be described as uppity, it’s Bryant Gumbel. Cenk while working for Wami 69 decided to hold a counter protest outside the house of the relatives of Elián González for fun, resulting in him needing a police escort. That’s who Cenk was at the time and in many ways his desire to be deliberately controversial hasn’t changed.

Did Cenk inadvertently admit that he named The Young Turks after the perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide?

In 2012 Cenk Uygur was due to speak at the Democratic Progressive Caucus. The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region and the Southern California Armenian Democrats lodged complaints with the California Democratic Party for providing a platform to an unapologetic Genocide denier; especially given the name of his show. Caro Avanessian of the California Armenian American Democrats also wrote a formal letter expressing the concerns of the statewide charter organizations. Candidate Torie Osborne, removed herself from the panel deciding she didn’t want to share a platform with Cenk Uygur increasing pressure on him to address the issue[33], which he did by making the following statement:

“Tonight I’m going to speak about how progressives can reclaim the Democratic party, but first I understand that, um, about the issue that was discussed here earlier, I just want to make a really quick statement on that. Look, I understand completely the tremendous pain the Armenian community feels about the historical situation that happened in that era and, uh and I understand the concern about the name of the show and I want to reassure everyone that it has no historical reference whatsoever and we, the dictionary definition we looked up literally said young progressives looking to overthrow an established system and that is exactly what we wanted to do and who we were at the time. I’m no longer that young, so the time has passed and I want to work with the Armenian community further at a different time. I work with Armenians every single day because my co-host is Armenian and we’ve done the show together for five years now and we’re trying to reach understanding for all of us going forward together in America where we all work together for a better future.”[34]

As a result of Cenk refusing to say he had changed his opinion and now knew that what happened to the Armenians was Genocide many silently protested through the remainder of his remarks with a number walking out.[34]

There are a number of problems with this statement.

Firstly, as previously discussed above, Cenk Uygur was not a progressive at the time he came up with the name, The Young Turks.

There are however copious examples of academics and historians who describe the historical genocidal Young Turks as “overthrowing” the Ottoman Empire because that’s exactly what they did[35][36][37][38][39]. For example:

“In 1908, The Young Turks effectively overthrew Abdul Hamid II’s traditionalist regime. In their initial enthusiasm, many Armenians made an understandable but deadly miscalculation. They assumed that the overthrow of the inefficient and corrupt regime by one that was less corrupt and more rational augured well for their own community. The Young Turks had given public assurances of equal treatment of the empire’s non-Muslim minorities, but the logic of their modernizing revolution made ethnic homogenization rather than diversity the almost inevitable outcome.”[40]

If the word “overthrow” is used in literature to describe the orchestrators of the Armenian Genocide, did Cenk inadvertently admit that he named his show after the perpetrators of the Genocide?

It’s possible that he could have been loosely paraphrasing the rebelling against authority part of the definition on the site, but rebelling isn’t synonymous with overthrowing and as pointed out above that wasn’t in the dictionary at the time he came up with the name for his show either. We also know that Cenk had read up on a lot of literature on this subject before he came up with the name of his show from the articles he wrote denying the Genocide.

What is missing from Cenk’s 2016 statement?

Cenk Uygur CEO and founder of The Young Turks has received growing criticism to address his past Genocide denial and to change the name of his show.

In 2012 there were protests at the Democratic Progressive caucus.[33]

In 2013 in his Ask Me Anything on Reddit[41], Cenk refused to answer any questions about his history of Genocide denial despite four of the top ten most voted questions being about it; I guess he meant to say ask me anything but that.

The top voted question was, “Why do you deny the Armenian Genocide?”[42] The third highest voted question was about the show being named after the perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide.[43] The sixth highest voted question was an Armenian American asking a question about how Armenians and Turkish people can reconcile, while affirming that the Armenian Genocide happened.[44] The seventh highest voted question provided links to some of Cenk’s previous statements and asked, if Cenk had changed his view on the topic or just avoids talking about it.[45]

Cenk didn’t respond to any question about the Armenian Genocide.

Over the years Ana Kasparian has made a number of confusing claims, including the claim that Cenk had never denied the Genocide and then later that he had changed his position on the Armenian Genocide. In 2015 when asked to provide a link or reference to Cenk’s new position she completely failed to do so.

So in 2016, Ana tweeted[46] out a link to a new statement by Cenk on the Armenian Genocide. Finally, had Cenk addressed his history of denying the Armenian Genocide?

Not exactly. Here’s what he said:

“Today, I rescind the statements I made in my Daily Pennsylvanian article from 1991 entitled, “Historical Fact of Falsehood? When I wrote that piece, I was a 21 year-old kid, who had a lot of opinions that I have since changed. Back then I had many political positions that were not well researched. For example, back in those days I held a pro-war rally for the Persian Gulf War. Anyone who knows me now knows that I am a very different person today.

I also rescind the statements I made in a letter to the editor I wrote in 1999 on the same issue. Back then I had a very different perspective and there were many things that I did not give due weight. On this issue, I should have been far, far more respectful of so many people who had lost family members. Their pain is heart-wrenching and should be acknowledged by all.

My mistake at the time was confusing myself for a scholar of history, which I most certainly am not. I don’t want to make the same mistake again, so I am going to refrain from commenting on the topic of the Armenian Genocide, which I do not know nearly enough about. Thank you for being patient with me on this issue, though I might not have always merited it.”[15]

What does Cenk Uygur say his mistake was in the above statement? Was his mistake denying the Armenian Genocide? Or was it not being “respectful of so many people who had lost family members” and “confusing [himself] for a scholar of history”?

The above is an obfuscating non-apology. Instead of addressing the actual issue he decided to apologize for being disrespectful and for confusing himself as a scholar of history. It’s an untenable position unless he has decided he’s not going to be a political talk show host anymore.

If anyone has a recording of Cenk covering it in the past I’d be interested in someone providing it. The Postgame show in 2013 in which he misrepresents Armenians at his college doesn’t count and he doesn’t say he views it as a Genocide now in that video. Instead of choosing to honor the memory of  survivors of the Genocide Cenk chose to try to paint Armenians as unreasonable and to claim that he didn’t bring the fight to them, but they “brought the fight” once again.[47] Every time I’ve asked someone for verifiable evidence of Cenk affirming that the Genocide is a genocide they have failed to do so.

Every day Cenk talks about historical issues, every day, is he going to stop talking about all of them or just the Armenian Genocide? The Armenian Genocide hasn’t been covered on the Memorial day once from what I can see as a story on The Young Turks Youtube channel while Cenk was in the studio, including on the 100th Anniversary. If anyone has a recording of Cenk covering it in the past I’d be interested in someone providing it. The Postgame show in which he misrepresents Armenians at his college doesn’t count and he doesn’t say he views it as a Genocide now in that video, where he claims he didn’t bring the fight to them, but the Armenians “brought the fight” to him.

Why didn’t he apologize for the time he publicly denied the Armenian Genocide while trying to remove the Armenian Club’s funding?

And more pertinently, why didn’t he apologize for his article denying the Armenian Genocide on The Young Turks website?

How respectful does he think it is for the many people who lost family members that he gave his show the same name as the perpetrators of that Genocide?

Notice that Cenk didn’t actually state he now views the Armenian Genocide as a Genocide, instead choosing to state that his views have changed, but why doesn’t he say what his views have changed to? If this was the last time he was going to talk about the Armenian Genocide then why wouldn’t he do that?

Cenk confirms he’s still on the fence on Armenian Genocide in 2016

From an interview on 22 August 2016 Cenk was asked once again about his record of Armenian Holocaust when fans made it their top question for him. The question itself wasn’t ideally phrased, but Cenk did go into some detail about his current position and stated that

Charles: And I want to do one final question and this is one where I’m not going to take a huge stance on because I don’t know foreign policy all that well, I’m more of an economics guy, but I did put up on the page what is the question you’d like to ask Cenk, what would you wanna do and the most popular one was you can probably guess it the Armenian Genocide, which is something I don’t know much about, but they’ve said you’ve had some opinions on it that differ from Barack Obama’s, uh, do you have any stance you’d like to put on that? Quick just to wrap up here, because that’s the final question I’ve got to give it to the people.

Cenk: Yeah, I hear you, um. So I wrote about that on our website and so I pretty much want to leave it at that thing that I have on, I wrote some, they were bias things when I was younger about it because I grew up Turkish and I only heard basically the Turkish side of the story, uh so I went through those things that I wrote earlier and uh, you know like you said you’re not an expert on this stuff and I certainly wasn’t an expert on it and to this day I’m nowhere near an expert on it. Sometimes people want to say okay no Cenk you have to adjudicate this one, and I get it because on the show and we have opinions on a lot of things, um, so they want me to have a strong opinion and decide which side is, uh, you know?

Charles: Okay.

Cenk: You know even that question, people just find [inaudible because of audio quality with Charles interrupting].

Charles: You know, say no more on it. I think your background..

Cenk: I shouldn’t have gotten into it when I was younger and I don’t wanna make that same mistake. So a lot of people know a ton about this issue, I’ll let them handle it and for once show some, you know, staying out of things I don’t know about.[48]

However, Cenk’s answer is enlightening on a number of points and does clarify Cenk’s 2016 statement in a number of ways.

  1. He wanted his 2016 statement to be the last time he talked about it. This wasn’t the beginning of him moving from one position to another but he wanted that statement to be the final word on his Genocide denial.
  2. He admits that his earlier articles were biased on the Turkish side, but he doesn’t say in which way it was biased. He also doesn’t mention the fact that his previous two articles showed extensive research of his own, including conversations with his law professor. Even in Cenk’s article denying the Armenian Genocide on The Young Turks website he admitted there was Turkish bias.
  3. Cenk repeats he’s not an expert, he wants it to be left to the experts.
  4. He seems to recognize the hypocrisy that people criticize him for taking positions on every other issue on his show.
  5. He says people want him to adjudicate whether the Armenian Genocide was Genocide and that he doesn’t want to take a side on the issue anymore.
  6. He regrets ever talking about it and doesn’t want to repeat that mistake.

It is obvious from the above exchange that Cenk does not acknowledge that the Armenian Holocaust was Genocide, which explains why he has never said he considers it to be Genocide publicly. His position has “evolved” and changed, it’s changed to not wanting to talk about it.

Cenk’s responses to Armenian protests at 2016 Fusion events at colleges

The Young Turks had a number of protests and objections expressed at college campuses as part of their tour in collaboration with Fusion. Initially, a number of students chose not to protest due to the focus on the 2016 General Election, but once the election was over the protests became increasingly vocal.

In response to these protests Cenk Uygur made a number of public statements about the objections to his show’s name.

When objections were raised by students and professors at USC.

“If me and my friends started a YouTube channel and we were to be talking about environmentally clean energy and how to end world poverty, yet we called ourselves the neo-Nazis or we called ourselves ISIS or another sensitive name, I don’t think USC would invite us to talk and broadcast from Annenberg, no matter how intriguing our content was,” ASA events coordinator Zaven Charkchyan said.

Many Armenians, though, feel that simply discussing a controversy is not enough. Salpi Ghazarian, director of the USC Institute of Armenian Studies, said that having a dialogue shouldn’t distract from necessary action to be taken.

“I’m hoping what will happen is the students of Annenberg, the administration at Annenberg, and throughout USC, will understand that this is a concern — a complaint — about glorifying violence. Violence by a government,” Ghazarian said. “By condoning this kind of collaboration with an organization that chooses to call itself The Young Turks, that’s what we’re doing.”

Charkchyan said that supporting and promoting The Young Turks could make the university seem hypocritical.

“In a university where we’re known worldwide for our genocide awareness and prevention institute [the USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research, in a university where our president is the descendant of people of Greek ancestry who were persecuted by the Ottomans,” Charkchyan said, “we cannot accept a group like this known as The Young Turks to come onto our campus and broadcast themselves in a positive light.”

Gabriel Kahn, a USC Annenberg professor who organized a separate TYT event last semester, said he was taken aback by the response the event received from the Armenian community. He hoped that The Young Turks as an organization would address the issue on their own as their reach grows online.

“It’s sort of like the Redskins in the NFL. And now we’re starting to see a growing awareness of the significance of this term, how it is in many respects incredibly inappropriate,” Kahn said. “The truth is that while the Armenian students here have a very clear understanding of why they find this to be offensive, the rest of the world does not.”[49]

Zohrabyan explained that a political group in the Ottoman Empire called the “Young Turks” implemented the systematic genocide of the Ottoman Armenians and other ethnic groups of the empire in 1915.

“What if this was instead the ‘The Neo-Nazis’ or ‘The KKK’ coming to speak and broadcast live from Annenberg to discuss global climate change?” Zohrabyan said. “For USC to give a platform to an organization that glorifies a government killing its own people is degrading to this University’s reputation.”[50]

When asked by the Daily Trojan for comment Cenk responded with the Young Turks usual approach to obfuscating on his Genocide denial,

Uygur explained that the show’s name “has nothing to do” with the historical reference.

“Young Turks means young progressives looking to overthrow the established system,” Uygur said. “There’s a common English definition of that phrase, and that’s what we’re going for.”[50]

As has been shown above, this excuse for Cenk naming his show The Young Turks and placing Genocide denial on the show’s website not only doesn’t add up, but is insulting to the intelligence of anyone who knows the history of Cenk’s Genocide denial.

Cenk made the following statements when asked for comment by USC Annenberg Media,

“They were right to criticize me and it is obviously an enormously important issue, so I don’t have a beef with them at all,” Uygur said. “That’s why I retracted [my statements]. Because I think that they were right.”[49]

If Cenk really thinks that students were right to criticize him for his Genocide denial and for the name of his show, The Young Turks then why doesn’t he change the name? Why won’t Cenk say that the Armenian Holocaust was Genocide? It seems that Cenk doesn’t actually believe that they were right and is actually just engaging in public relations to avoid addressing his continuing refusal to acknowledge that the Armenian Holocaust was Genocide or to change the name of his show, a name he chose while he was a vocal Genocide denier.

Unfortunately for Cenk his Young Turks, that it didn’t end there. Protests and objections were expressed at many of the campuses that The Young Turks appeared at, but the issue really came to a head when The Young Turks appeared at California State University where a student in the audience attempted to ask The Young Turks about their choice of name and their CEO’s Armenian Genocide denial and was immediately shut down while The Young Turks went to a commercial break. The protesters were respectful and merely wanted to express their concerns about the name of the show.

“We don’t have a problem with the show necessarily, is just the name” Maavanin said. “The genocide that was committed against the Armenians by the Turkish government, was under the Young Turks political party.”[51]

The Young Turks response was to start shouting from their pulpit, with Ana Kasparian in particular, screaming, “I don’t deny the Genocide.” The issue, she is surely aware is not her recognition of what happened to her ancestors who were fortunate enough to survive the Genocide, but that her boss who chose the name for the show has a long history of Genocide denial and even as late as in 2016, he won’t acknowledge that the Armenian Holocaust was Genocide.

When asked more recently in another interview on the topic, Cenk’s claims that the students objections were correct and that they were right to express them seems to have disappeared entirely.

Uygur argues that the name “is in no way a historical reference,” as he made clear in a five-paragraph response to a request for comment. “No matter how often we explain the actual meaning of our name, some critics will never be appeased. Their true intent is not to help Armenians, but to attack us by any means necessary. It’s sick that they use such an important issue for their own political purposes. For those who have legitimate questions about our name, we hope they understand the true meaning of the phrase and our intent in using it so that we can work together to knock down the political establishment that’s keeping all of us down and relentlessly fight to make our country better.”[52]

Notice how Cenk tries to delegitimise those who object to his Genocide denial and choice to name his show after the perpetrators of that Genocide as not helping Armenians, which is funny because most of the protests have come from Armenians. If Cenk Uygur really wants everyone to move on he should acknowledge and apologize for his Armenophobia and Genocide denial, including on the Young Turks website, he should acknowledge that the Armenian Holocaust was Genocide and he should change the name of his show. Once Cenk has made those changes there will be nothing for his critics to focus on but the actual content of his show and I have no doubt the Armenian community will actually applaud his decision to do the right thing. Until then, the skeletons in his closet and the weight of his past is going to continue to bear down and may even overshadow the causes he claims to care about.

Cenk has also failed to answer any questions about his affiliations with organizations that deny the Armenian Genocide.

It’s not good enough. We’re calling for three things.

  1. For The Young Turks to change their genocidal name to anything else given the facts about their founder’s Genocide denial before and after he came up with the name of the show.
  2. For The Young Turks to donate all of their domain names, including names and abbreviations, to Armenian charities to raise awareness of the Armenian Genocide.
  3. For Cenk Uygur to publicly denounce all his past denials of the Armenian Genocide including his denial on The Young Turks website and for him to state on his Youtube channel that he now accepts the Armenian Genocide as a genocide in every sense of the word.

If you agree with us, why not join us? Even if you are fan of The Young Turks getting them to change their toxic name is probably the best thing for their show, once Cenk has publicly recognized the Armenian Genocide and changed the name of his show everybody can then focus on the content of their news shows and on getting Turkey, the US and UK governments to recognize the Genocide. Unless, of course, that isn’t what Cenk wants.


[1] Madlena, Chavala (April 26, 2010). “Cenk Uygur on the success of The Young Turks”. Guardian.

[2] Cenk Uygur, “Historical Fact or Falsehood?” The Daily Pennsylvanian, 22 November 1991 p. 6 http://www.library.upenn.edu/docs/kislak/dp/1991/1991_11_22.pdf

[3] Drew Zoller, “Turk, Armenian dispute raised at SAC”, The Daily Pennsylvanian, 25 April 1991  p. 10 http://www.library.upenn.edu/docs/kislak/dp/1991/1991_04_25.pdf

[4] http://www.salon.com/1999/06/16/punk_2/

[5] https://web.archive.org/web/20000115191936/http://youngturk.com/newpage15.htm

[6] As can be seen here, the article is still linked to as late as 2003. https://web.archive.org/web/20030205132859/http://www.youngturk.com/Archives.htm

[7] https://web.archive.org/web/20030205100104/http://www.youngturk.com/

[8]  American Heritage Dictionary 4th Ed (2000)

[9] Youngturk.com purchased on 17th May 1998 https://whois.icann.org/en/lookup?name=youngturk.com

[10] theyoungturks.com purchased on 31st December 1998 https://whois.icann.org/en/lookup?name=theyoungturks.com

[11] https://web.archive.org/web/20031003121918/http://www.youngturk.com/

[12] http://www.politico.com/story/2008/03/not-the-candidate-he-used-to-be-009000

[13] http://asbarez.com/101017/armenians-protest-uygur-talk-at-democratic-convention/

[14] https://twitter.com/AnaKasparian/status/724053960730890241

[15] https://tytnetwork.com/2016/04/22/rescinding-daily-pennsylvanian-article/

[16] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QR6sPjrmC4Q

[17] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Da9bFs9hfMg

[18] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ayMIDzZXvg

[19] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DImUjI2IEbg

[20] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7Pgcz-2acI

[21] Armenian Club’s Armenian Genocide Ad, p. 12 http://www.library.upenn.edu/docs/kislak/dp/1991/1991_04_24.pdf

[22] https://web.archive.org/web/20020821093109/http://www.youngturk.com/

[23] https://web.archive.org/web/20021120234531/http://www.youngturk.com/

[24] https://web.archive.org/web/20030215001019/http://youngturk.com/

[25] https://web.archive.org/web/20031017113413/http://www.youngturk.com/

[26] https://web.archive.org/web/20080918135448/http://www.theyoungturks.com/user/AnaKasparian

[27] Ana Kasparian of TYT Talks About the Other Side of News https://youtu.be/lBIxIdOqi_0?t=271

[28] https://whois.icann.org/en/lookup?name=youngturk.com

[29] https://whois.icann.org/en/lookup?name=theyoungturks.com

[30] American Heritage Dictionary 4th, Ed. (2000)

[31] American Heritage Dictionary 3rd Ed. (1992)

[32] Cenk Uygur, “Not the candidate he used to be”. http://www.politico.com/story/2008/03/not-the-candidate-he-used-to-be-009000

[33] http://asbarez.com/101017/armenians-protest-uygur-talk-at-democratic-convention/

[34] The Armenian and Greek protesters can just be seen when the camera pans over near the end of the talk at 37:57 and at 39:33 mark of this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nql75Xn4d44

[35] Rubenstein, Richard L. (2011) Jihad and Genocide p.49

[36] Alvez, Alex (2001) Governments, Citizens, and Genocide: A Comparative and Interdisciplinary Approach p.11

[37] Tutunjian, Jirair (2001) Convent of Cypresses, a Hill of Bones p.16

[38] The International Legal System: Cases and Materials (2001)

[39] The Muslim World League Journal, Vol 25 (1998)

[40] Jacobs, Steven L. (2009) Confronting Genocide: Judaism, Christianity, Islam p.129

[41] https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1e94kj/i_am_cenk_uygur_political_commentator_internet/

[42] https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1e94kj/i_am_cenk_uygur_political_commentator_internet/c9xzurx

[43] https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1e94kj/i_am_cenk_uygur_political_commentator_internet/c9xzdv4

[44] https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1e94kj/i_am_cenk_uygur_political_commentator_internet/c9xzmqv

[45] https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1e94kj/i_am_cenk_uygur_political_commentator_internet/c9y175o

[46] https://twitter.com/AnaKasparian/status/724053960730890241

[47] https://tytmembermedia.s3.amazonaws.com/pg-20130423.m4v?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIV54CDW76NAM2W5Q&Expires=1473751184&Signature=8CwhS4GV1Hxim9k3F67cwr5dhvY%3D

[48]  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85NB1Zn6gAk

[49] http://www.uscannenbergmedia.com/2016/09/12/armenian-students-at-usc-upset-by-the-young-turks-broadcast/

[50] http://dailytrojan.com/2016/09/12/young-turks-films-live-campus-discusses-election/

[51] http://sundial.csun.edu/2016/11/the-young-turks-host-gets-into-heated-exchange-with-heckler-during-filming-at-csun/

[52] https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2017/01/why-cenk-uygur-is-getting-confronted-about-the-nam.html

[53] https://web.archive.org/web/20020908173451/http://www.youngturk.com/newpage2.htm