Two CNBC hosts once again tore into each other on Friday morning in yet another extremely heated and personal dispute over coronavirus restrictions and masks, eventually resulting in a shouting match in which Andrew Ross Sorkin and Rick Santelli each accused the each other of doing a “disservice” to their audience.
With coronavirus cases and deaths surging and public-health experts warning that the U.S. may be headed for a dark winter before the wide distribution of vaccines, local and state leaders have implemented stay-at-home orders in an effort to stem the pandemic’s spread and prevent hospitals from exceeding capacity.
The shutdowns, unfortunately, have caused undue hardship for small businesses, especially bars and restaurants. The impact is amplified due to the lack of an additional coronavirus stimulus bill, which has been stalled in Congress for months. At the same time, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, has warned that indoor dining and drinking is a leading spreader of the disease.
CNBC host Rick Santelli, a godfather of the tea-party movement, took issue with politicians targeting bars and restaurants with restrictions while allowing large retailers to remain open, wondering aloud how it’s any safer to shop in large stores than to eat indoors. He also lamented about the job losses that result from lockdowns.
“You can’t tell me that shutting down, which is the easiest answer, is the only answer,” Santelli groused.
“Rick, just as a public-health and public-service announcement for the audience, the difference between a big-box retailer...” fellow host Andrew Ross Sorkin began before Santelli immediately fired off.
“Who is this?” Santelli asked before someone off-screen could be heard telling him, “Who else?”
“The difference between a big-box retailer and a restaurant or frankly, even a church, are so different it’s unbelievable,” Sorkin finished his thought. “Going into a big-box retailer, you’re wearing a mask.”
Santelli, who just months ago called on everyone to deliberately get infected with the deadly virus in order to achieve herd immunity, shouted back, “I disagree! I disagree! I disagree! You can have your thoughts and I can have mine!”
As Sorkin attempted to tout the science behind mask-wearing and social distancing, Santelli—with arms crossed and wild gesticulation—blew the entire segment up and began shouting at his colleague.
“It’s not science! Five hundred people in a Lowe’s aren’t any safer than 150 people in a restaurant that holds 600,” a red-faced Santelli screamed as Sorkin merely shook his head. “I don’t believe it! I’m sorry. I don’t believe it. I don’t and I won’t!”
Sorkin told his co-worker that he was “doing a disservice” to their audience, prompting an animated Santelli to deploy a classic schoolyard tactic.
“You are doing a disservice to the viewer! You are. You are,” he yelled.
The shouting match eventually came to a close with Sorkin noting that he just wanted to keep CNBC viewers as “healthy as possible” while Santelli insisted that they “are smart enough to make part of those decisions on their own.”