There were bound to be melodramatic moments at this year’s Politicon in Los Angeles, an event Splinter’s Libby Watson previously and aptly described as “complete shit” and a space for right-wingers to “own the libs.”
But in one exchange on Saturday, it was Young Turks founder Cenk Uygur who “triggered” Charlie Kirk, the leader of the national conservative youth nonprofit Turning Point USA. At one point, it looked as if Kirk, 25, who was on stage debating The Young Turks’ Hasan Piker, had challenged Uygur, 48, to a fistfight.
Kirk had grilled Piker about his salary and his so-called socialist credentials when the argument broke out, with Uygur interrupting from the audience.
“You brought it up in context. I’m asking why don’t you look like a socialist. Go look like a socialist,” Kirk said to Piker, referring to the question about Piker’s salary.
At that point, Uygur asked from the audience how much Kirk makes for shilling for wealthy Republican donors and right-wing organizations like the Heritage Foundation and the National Rifle Association.
“I asked him what his salary was. Same question he asked @hasanthehun. I want to know how much it took for the richest people in the country to buy his services. He claims he took a risk to start his organization. How much risk is there to do propaganda for the rich?” Uygur tweeted later.
Instead of answering the question, as Kirk had expected of Piker, Kirk flipped out, shouting, “I’ve lived like a capitalist every single day, Cenk. I’ve lived as a capitalist.”
Kirk stood up to approach the edge of the stage, still yelling, “I live what I believe. What do I do? I give charity every single year. What’s my salary? Less than his.”
Then, he said: “Come on, Cenk—let’s go.”
The moderator tried to get everyone seated again, but Kirk kept going. (The video doesn’t show what Uygur was doing at this point.) “I practice what I preach, Cenk. You, you do not practice what you preach,” Kirk shouted, pointing at Uygur. “Thirty-five thousand donors across the country…We are funded by the grassroots of this country. You can try to demagogue it all you want.”
Uygur added on Twitter, “He apparently thought it was a fair question since he asked it. But when I asked him, he flipped out. Why? Because he knows he’s an errand boy and it’s probably embarrassing how much he gets paid to do the bidding of the richest people in the country…He gets triggered by that topic because it goes to the core of how fraudulent his organization is. They get paid by the wealthiest people in the country to push for tax cuts and deregulation under the guise of principles. It’s corruption defined.”