Fireworks sparked Wednesday morning on the Squawk Box set as CNBC anchor Andrew Ross Sorkin blasted his own colleague Joe Kernen for dismissing the severity of the coronavirus pandemic that has now killed 100,000 Americans. At one point, Sorkin accused Kernen of trying to help his “friend” President Donald Trump “every single morning.”
As the two discussed the recent stock-market gains, the segment grew increasingly heated as Kernen openly bashed Sorkin and “other smart people” for not being able to see why the market is rising despite the current poor state of the economy.
“Joe, you missed it a hundred percent on the way down and you missed 100,000 deaths,” Sorkin snapped back. “So we can have this debate back and forth and you can try to question the questions I’m asking.”
Kernen attempted to talk over Sorkin, prompting the usually mild-mannered business host to angrily interject.
“Hold on, hold on,” Sorkin shouted. “I’m not going to do this with you Joe! Every morning, you try to question the questions I’m asking—these are questions investors are asking every single morning. I’m just trying to get through some of this clutter. I may be right or wrong. Investors may be right or wrong. That’s what makes the market. It doesn’t make people good or bad or right to act the way you are. I’m sorry.”
After a dramatic sigh, Kernen began chiding Sorkin for scolding him as well as lecturing others over the pandemic, causing Sorkin to wave him off and tell him to read the news.
“I’m sorry?” Kernen asked, prompting an incensed Sorkin to exclaim: “No you’re not. No you’re not!”
At this point, Kernen began running down all the things his colleague “panicked” over, such as the virus itself, ventilators, and personal protection equipment, causing Sorkin to lose it.
“Joseph, you didn’t panic about anything,” he shouted as Kernen objected. “One-hundred thousand people died. One-hundred thousand people died, Joe, and all you did was try to help your friend, the president—every single morning on this show. You abused your position!”
Kernen, one of the few non-Fox hosts Trump grants interviews to, claimed Sorin was being “unfair” and that all he’s been trying to do is help “investors keep their cool and keep their heads, and as it turned out that’s what they should have done.”
“Do the news,” Sorkin growled back. “I was not arguing to go sell your stocks, Joseph! I was arguing about people’s lives. Do the news, I’m begging you to do the news, Joseph!”
Kernen, before getting to the news, got in the last word, saying the number of American deaths was terrible “but it was never going to be that we weren’t going to come back and return to normal,” insisting he wasn’t “trying to help Donald Trump.”