CNBC reporters get into heated on air row over face masks

Rick Santelli accused of ‘doing a disservice to the viewer’ by colleague

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Friday 04 December 2020 22:13 GMT
CNBC reporters get into heated on air row over face masks

Two panelists on a financial news show became embroiled in a heated on-air row over face masks and restaurant closings.

Andrew Ross Sorkin and Rick Santelli got into the fierce argument as they discussed how coronavirus restrictions have hit businesses.

Tension between the two bubbled over when Mr Santelli denied that wearing a face mask was backed up by science.

Bonds expert Mr Sorkin accused his CNBC colleague of “doing a disservice to the viewer” for suggesting that restaurants should be kept open despite the virus surge.

Veteran business personality Mr Santelli sparked the row by saying US lawmakers should balance virus restrictions on business with public health concerns.

He then added that it made no sense to shut down restaurants while big-box retailers were full of customers.

“Rick, just as a public health and public service announcement for the audience, the difference between a big box retailer,” said Mr Sorkin, before Mr Santelli cut him off.

“Who is this?” asked Mr Santelli as the pair were talking from different locations on a panel of guests.

Somebody off screen could then be heard saying: “Who else, who else.”

Sorkin then held his arms out so Mr Santelli would let him speak.

“The difference between a big box retailer, and a restaurant or frankly even a church, are so different it’s unbelievable,” said Squawk Box co-host Mr Sorkin.

The two then yelled over each other, with Mr Santelli saying, “I disagree, I disagree. I disagree. You can have your thoughts, and I can have mine.” 

Mr Sorkin replied by telling his colleague, “You’re required to wear a mask. It’s science. I’m sorry, it’s science.”

“It’s not science,” said an annoyed Mr Santelli.

“Five hundred people in a mall aren’t any safer than 150 people in a restaurant that holds 600," he added.

“I don’t believe it. Sorry, I don’t believe it.

“And I live in an area where there are a lot of restaurants that have fought back and they don’t have any problems and they’re open.”

Mr Sorkin then took firm aim at Mr Santelli.

“Well you don’t have to believe it, but you’re doing a disservice to the viewer,” said Mr Sorkin.

“You’re doing a disservice to the viewer. You are. You are,”  Mr Santelli replied angrily.

Mr Sorkin then told his rival that he “would like to keep our viewers as healthy as humanly possible.”

“I think our viewers are smart enough to make part of thsoe decisions on their own,” said Mr Santelli talking over him.

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