Current TV's Cenk Uygur: Ronald Reagan Would Be a 'Huge Liberal' Now

Mon Dec 5, 2011 8:30am EST

Cenk Uygur promises a stepped-up version of "The Young Turks" when it debuts on Current TV Monday.   

The former MSNBC host told TheWrap that he planned to make use of the new platform for the online show with panel discussions and guests. 

He said that the show will easily stand out from other cable news shows populated with "plastic robot anchors."

"We’ll be much more irreverent, in your face and genuine," he promised.

Uygur discussed his plans for the show, which candidate he’ll vote for 2012 and the future of the Occupy movement in his interview with TheWrap.

How will this show differ from "The Young Turks" people see online?

First of all, we’ve got a production that will be really stepped up – the graphics, the intros -- even being able to talk to everyone on the set. I am also looking forward to the panel conversation at the bottom of the hour -- bringing in the smartest progressives from across the country, and sometimes non-progressives to have a great conversation and an honest conversation. Bringing in guests was hard, technically, on the online show.

Also read: Current TV's Cenk Uygur, Executives Ready for 2012, Talk CNN's 'Fake Neutrality'

Yet you’ve dubbed "The Young Turks" the most largest online news program in the world. How does the Current platform compare to that?

Every platform brings a new and different audience as well. It’s fantastic to have those two platforms working in tandem. We are knee-deep in figuring out synergies and how we can work together. We might do an online poll that we introduce to the TV audience. We might use comments from either format. I aim to have genuine interaction with the audience and use both platforms to drive that audience.

So are the cable news networks your competition? And, if so, how do you make Current distinct?

I don’t think anybody will be confused as to whether we’re different from the rest of cable news. That’s easy. Look, unfortunately for the rest of cable news there are a lot of plastic robot anchors out there who regurgitate what producers put in the prompter. I don’t even have a prompter; the show is unscripted. We’ll be much more irreverent, in your face and genuine.

Right now you’ve got the GOP primary and Occupy Wall Street. What are you most excited to talk about?

The GOP primary race is a lot of fun because there are a bunch of goofballs over there and they provide a ton of entertainment, but I’m probably more excited by the progressive policy points we’re looking at.

People often talk about OWS but don’t give it the right context. It drives me crazy when Fox and other cable outlets play along – "No one knows what they are doing out there. Why don’t they get a job?" They know exactly what they’re asking for.

They are tired of institutional corruption.

Also read: Current TV Sets 'Young Turks With Cenk Uygur' Premiere Date

As winter sets in and various protesters are shut down, do you see the movement dying out or do you think it will come back stronger in the spring as the protesters are claiming?

The occupy movement is not about a couple of tents in L.A. or Zuccotti Park. It’s about the majority of the country that are sick of their politicians not representing them, giving every unfair advantage to the richest people in country. As great a job as they have done to bring the issue to the forefront of the conversation, it’s not just about guys in a park but who they represent. They represent the majority of Americans that say, "Enough is enough, how do we get democracy back?"

Like the Occupy protesters, you’ve been very critical of Barack Obama. Would you vote for another candidate in 2012?

Well if by someone else you mean a Republican the answer to that is a, "Hell, no." They are all cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. Would there be an independent I’d consider? I guess. I think a third party run is generally a very bad idea. It gives the other side an advantage, but I’m open to anything because of the incredible frustration that the Democrats never do anything progressive.

Now you used to be a moderate Republican, no? How do you explain that shift?

It’s not a drastic shift at all. I was a liberal Republican from New Jersey. No such beast exists anymore. It wasn’t that I changed. I changed almost none of my positions. The Republican party has changed where they went from liberal Republicans to despising them. What does it mean to be a liberal Republican? To be liberal on social issues, which I am, and fiscally conservative, which I am.

The Republican party isn’t. They haven’t been fiscally conservative since Dwight Eisenhower.

Even Ronald Reagan would be a huge liberal right now. He would be kicked out of the Democratic party for being too liberal. He negotiated with Iran and sold weapons to terrorists. Obama would be scared out of his mind to have any position remotely as progressive as Ronald Reagan. The Democratic party is far to right of Ronald Reagan.

So if the Republican party has shifted so far to the right, and the Democrats have shifted to adjust, doesn’t that mean the populace has as well?

Those changes are not at all reflective of what the population believes. In nearly every single poll, the country is massively progressive. Cut social security under any circumstances? Eighty-four percent say no. Cost of living? The public option tested in the 70s. In some polls the majority of Republicans were in favor. Should we tax the rich, the top one percent more? Should we get out of the wars? A huge majority is in favor.

So if the country is massively progressive, why is this not showing up in the political results?

We’ve lost our democracy. Votes don’t matter any more. Ninety-seven percent of people who had more money in elections won. Politicians work for the  guys who sign their checks. The fact that the rest of media doesn’t cover it as an absolute fact makes a mockery of rest of the media. It’s basically the only issue that matters. It’s why we’ve had this dramatic shift to the right of Washington.

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