LOS ANGELES -- Bernie Sanders withdrew his endorsement of California congressional candidate Cenk Uygur on Friday after reports about the online talk show host making crude and degrading comments about women and provocative statements about Jews, Muslims and other groups.
The Democratic presidential candidate had said Thursday that Uygur, founder and co-host of "The Young Turks" online talk show, is "a voice that we desperately need in Congress" to fill the seat of former Rep. Katie Hill of Santa Clarita. Friday, he took back the endorsement.
In one episode in 2013, Uygur ranked women on a scale of 1 to 10 on how likely men would be to let them perform oral sex on them.
Uygur also defended the Harvard University men's soccer team in 2016 for ranking the sexual appeal of female students on a scale of 1 to 10 on a widely shared "scouting report," including explicit descriptions of potential sex acts with the women.
"We've been doing it for as long as humanity has existed, so they put it in a Google doc -- not guilty," said Uygur, who has promoted Sanders on his program.
In 2007, Uygur used the N-word multiple times in a show about Duane "Dog" Chapman after the celebrity bounty hunter used the racial slur.
Uygur, 49, described himself in a telephone interview as a champion for women's rights who should not be criticized for having "frank conversations about sex" on his show. The problem with the Harvard team's appraisals of the women, he said, was not that they rated their sex potential; it was that the roster became public.
"I'm not going to be the thought police and police what their private comments were," he said.
He also said "The Young Turks" used to have a policy to use the N-word epithet when quoting racists in order to mock them, but stopped doing it after complaints from black activists.
Will Rodriguez-Kennedy, president of California Young Democrats, a group that backs Sanders, had called on the Vermont senator to withdraw his endorsement of Uygur.