Bernie Sanders retracts Cenk Uyger endorsement after backlash

Sanders had come under fire from supporters for backing someone who had made demeaning and controversial comments about women, Muslims and African Americans.
Image: Cenk Uygur
Cenk Uygur speaks during day one of Collision 2018 at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans on May 1, 2018.Seb Daly / Sportsfile via Getty Images file

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By Gary Grumbach, Shaquille Brewster and The Associated Press

Sen. Bernie Sanders pulled his endorsement for a California congressional candidate on Friday after coming under fire for supporting the online news personality who has made degrading comments about African Americans and women.

Cenk Uygur, host of the progressive online news and opinion broadcast “The Young Turks,” was endorsed by the Democratic presidential candidate on Thursday in a special election to replace former California Rep. Katie Hill's seat after she resigned in October.

In a statement posted online, Sanders said Uygur “will serve ordinary people, not powerful special interests. He is a voice that we desperately need in Congress & will be a great representative for CA-25 and the country.”

In one blog post from 2000, Uygur wrote that “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.”

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Uygur also came under fire for using the N-word on his show multiple times. He acknowledged this week that “The Young Turks" had a policy of using the N-word when quoting racists as a means of mocking them but stopped after complaints.

In 2012, he said orthodox Jews and Muslims are teaching their children things that are “Looney Tunes.”

Ahead of Sanders’ endorsement, The Los Angeles County Democratic Party said as a result of Uygur’s past comments, “he does not belong in Congress.”

Almost immediately, calls began for Sanders to disavow Uygur. “If Bernie Sanders is a real progressive – he will disavow Cenk Uygur," wrote the Hollywood chapter of the National Organization for Women.

By Friday afternoon, Sanders retracted his endorsement.

“I hear my supporters who were frustrated and understand their concerns. Cenk today said he is rejecting all endorsements for his campaign and I retract my endorsement,” the Vermont senator wrote on Twitter.

This is not the first time the Democratic presidential candidate has found himself associated with controversial supporters. The campaign earlier this month parted ways Darius Gordon, their newly-hired deputy director of constituency organizing after old tweets, including homophobic slurs and anti-Semitic tropes, resurfaced. In October, a hire on the digital team, Matt Orfalea, resigned from the campaign after 24 hours when offensive videos about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and Hillary Clinton were discovered.

The primary is scheduled for March 3. The general election for the 25th Congressional District, covering parts of Los Angeles and Ventura counties, is May 12.